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Baseball Preview: Georgia

To close out the season, the Tigers will make the trip to Athens

via @BaseballUGA

With only a sliver of hope left of making the SEC Tournament, the Tigers will try to win as many games as they can in the final weekend and hope that Mississippi State and Kentucky falter. The good news for Missouri is they own the tiebreaker with each of those teams; the bad news is that Georgia is good team and a tough place to play.

Pitching

On Thursday night, the Tigers are going to turn back to Spencer Miles this week, and he will be opposed by Nolan Crisp. A Georgia native, Crisp has had his fair share of ups and downs this year. The righthander started his season in the bullpen but moved to the rotation mid-season, and in his new role, he’s shown some weakness when stretched out. Luckily for the Bulldogs, Crisp should be full of confidence after a quality start against Tennessee last weekend. On the year, Crisp has a 5.08 ERA and 41 K’s in 44.1 innings.

Fans shouldn’t expect to see stuff that blows you away from Crisp, but rather a crafty righty that’s just looking to find outs. He doesn’t have a true 4-seam fastball but will use his sinker which sits in the high 80s to low 90s to get outs and mix in a changeup and breaking ball. If the Tigers can find some sinkers up in the zone or get to his breaking pitches, they should find success.

Here’s some of the intensity and energy that Crisp brings to the mound (this is from his time at Florida):

On Friday, the Tigers will see Georgia’s best arm, Jonathan Cannon. The 6’6, Georgia native is intimidating on the mound because of his stature, and he backs it up with his numbers. For the year, Cannon has a 3.01 ERA with 63 K in 68.2 innings, and in all but one of his starts, Cannon has gone five or more innings. If the Tigers are looking for some good news, that start he didn’t make it through the 5th was his last against Tennessee.

With his big body, Cannon packs a big fastball that’ll sit around 93 mph. However, Cannon is much than just a guy who will blow it by you as he mixes in a variety of other pitches including a great breaking ball, changeup, and cutter. Righties especially will need to be on the lookout for his wipeout slider.

In the series finale on Saturday, the Tigers will see Liam Sullivan. Although he’s started every one of his appearances, Sullivan is much more of an opener than a starter. His longest start of the year is 5.2 innings, and more often than not, he’s going to go 3-4 innings. On the year, Sullivan has a 5.22 ERA and 39 K in 39.2 innings.

Like Crisp on Friday night, Sullivan is going to be crafty with a sinker and breaking pitches. The only difference is he is a lefty so he could cause problems for key Mizzou hitters like Fox Leum and Luke Mann. Nevertheless, he’s a very hittable arm who the Tigers should be able to barrel up and find some runs.

Here’s what the rest of the Bulldog arms have done this year:

via georgiadogs.com

Hitting

When you talk about the hitters in Georgia’s lineup there are three big threats that immediately will garner attention from Missouri pitchers. Connor Tate, Parks Harber, and Corey Collins all have 10 HR this year and are in a three-way tie for the team lead while also being 1-2-3 in SLG%.

Connor Tate is the guy in this Bulldog offense. This year Tate is slashing .349/.440/.595 and is by far the best hitter in this lineup. The Tigers will surely be very careful with Tate, as it’s well known he’s the Bulldogs' biggest weapon, but I’d still expect him to do damage this weekend.

If the Tigers are going to get Tate out, they’ll need to rely on breaking pitches. He mashes fastballs, and if he sees one in the zone, you can bet he’s going to crush it.

Parks Harber is the second best hitter in the Bulldog lineup, but he’s still a far cry from the player that Tate is. Harber is slashing .296/.361/.495 this year with those team-leading 10 HR’.

Harber is an extremely aggressive hitter who loves to jump on the first pitch, but with that aggressiveness, Harber can have a tendency to chase pitches. If the Tigers can get ahead in the count on Harber, they should be able to eliminate some of his power and neutralize him. Eliminating people not named Connor Tate may be the Tigers’ best bet for success in this series, and that starts with Harber.

Corey Collins is the third hitter I want to highlight. He’s one of those high-power, high on-base guys that are flooding baseball currently. He may only hit .268, but Collins’ OBP is .405, which is well above average. However, as he draws all those walks and hits all his homers, there’s always a give and take as Collins is also a strikeout machine, leading the team with 57.

From the left side, Collins has a great power swing, but he does have a high tendency to pull the ball. Lefthanders give him fits, but the Tigers currently have no lefties scheduled to pitch this weekend unless Neubeck gets the ball in Game 2. If he sees only righties, Collins might be a problem for the Tigers, but he is a very beatable hitter despite his patience and immense power.

Game Schedule

Thursday | 5:30 pm | SEC Network +

Friday | 5:30 pm | SEC Network +

Saturday | 1 pm | SEC Network +