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Baseball Preview: Mizzou welcomes Alabama to Taylor Stadium

The Tigers are looking for their first series victory since the Tennessee series

via Twitter / @AlabamaBSB

Alabama got off to a flying start this season. They won their first 14 games and were ranked in the top 20 nationally. Since that early season success, though, the Tide has slowed a bit, but should still be a difficult opponent for a Missouri team that desperately needs a series victory.

At the Plate

Alabama should give a depleted Missouri pitching staff a number of problems this weekend. The Tide is fourth in the SEC in runs and batting average, and with the injuries to their pitching staff, they’ll know maintaining their strong form will be essential to success this weekend in Columbia.

The anchor of the Alabama offense is 1B Drew Williamson. The fifth year is having a career year in his final season in Tuscaloosa. With a .353/.467/.596 slash line, 10 HR, and a 149 wRC+ Williamson has been close to unstoppable at the plate this season.

He’s had a surge in power this year and 23.8% of his fly balls are leaving the yard compared to last year’s 12%. Williamson also provides plus defense at 1B, and is the face of this Alabama team. If the Tigers want to have success this week, slowing down Williamson will be one of the keys.

Opposite Williamson at the other corner infield spot is 3B Colby Shelton. Only a true freshman this year, Shelton is having one of the best seasons of any freshman in the SEC not named Ethan Petry.

Shelton sports a .289/.406/.684 slash line with 13 HR and a 147 wRC+. He does a fantastic job of hitting the ball in the air with a 55.6% fly ball rate and 28.9% of those fly balls are homers this season.

The only flaw in Shelton’s game is his plate discipline. He’s striking out on 24.6% of his plate appearances and walking just 11.6% of the time.

The Bama lineup is deep and tough to navigate, but the final name notable for inclusion in this preview is OF Tommy Seidl. After transferring from Harvard two years ago, Seidl was mediocre in his first season in Tuscaloosa but has ascended to a new level this year.

Seidl is slashing .364/.492/.525 and has a 146 wRC+. He has just four homers, but has been fantastic at the plate all year, nonetheless.

On the Mound

Much like Mizzou, Alabama has been a victim of the injury bug on the mound. Potential first pitcher Grayson Hitt was ruled out for the year with an elbow injury on Thursday, and weekend starter Ben Hess isn’t available this weekend.

Luke Holman, who began the year as a midweek starter, will get the ball for the Tide on Friday night. Holman has thrown 41.2 innings this year and has been extremely effective. He has a 3.24 ERA and 50 strikeouts to just 15 walks. Opponents also have just a .560 OPS against him.

Holman’s 4.48 xFIP indicates he might be getting a tad lucky, but his raw numbers have been good to the point that you can’t really fault him. He’ll feature a low 90s heater and a big curveball while mixing in a changeup, too.

Garrett McMillan is the Crimson Tide’s Saturday starter. A shoulder injury kept McMillan out of the rotation for the first half of the season, but he’s returned and found success in limited action so far.

Last year McMillan was a big part of the Alabama staff, throwing 86 innings with a 4.29 ERA. This year he’s thrown just 7.1 innings but he has surrendered just 3 ER. In his last time out, McMillan threw five shutout innings against Auburn, allowing just one hit.

Jacob McNairy gets the start on Sunday for Alabama. He’s made nine starts this season but has thrown just 38 innings. His longest appearance of the season was just five innings.

While McNairy doesn’t have a tendency to go deep into games, he does have good stuff. A low 90s heater with a good changeup are the hallmarks of McNairy’s arsenal, which got him selected in the 16th round of last summer’s draft.

He has great control with just six walks and 34 strikeouts. His 3.6% walk rate is astonishingly low, so Mizzou hitters will need to step into the box ready to put the barrel on the ball. McNairy also has a 4.26 ERA this season.

While last week felt like a must-win series for Mizzou, this weekend feels even more crucial. The Tigers are back at home where they have played much better all year, and Alabama is good, not great. It’s unfortunate to say, but the Tigers are getting the Tide at a good time with the injuries to their pitching staff, and Missouri needs to capitalize. Anything less than a series victory this weekend is not a success.


Friday @ 6 pm on SECN +

Saturday @ 5 pm on SECN

Sunday @ 1 pm on SECN +