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Baseball Preview: Mizzou visits Auburn in pivotal final series

Auburn is the hottest team in the country with four straight SEC series wins

COLLEGE BASEBALL: APR 04 Auburn at UAB Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

At the start of this year, not much was expected of Auburn. They were an intriguing team, but no one expected them to be a threat in the SEC. Now as the regular season winds down, no team in America wants to see the Tigers on their schedule. Unfortunately for Mizzou, their path to extending their season runs through Auburn.

The opposing Tigers come into this series red-hot. They’ve picked off four consecutive series wins, including ones over South Carolina and LSU, and they might have the only offense in better form than Missouri’s right now. To make things worse for Mizzou, the Tigers are just 1-11 in road SEC games this year, and they need to win three this weekend. It’ll be no small task for Mizzou to take this series, let alone sweep it. However, the Tigers have been pretty successful against The Plains Tigers, per Matt Michaels. Let’s break down what you can expect from Auburn this weekend.

At the Plate

Auburn’s offense is the key to their recent success. Last weekend in a sweep over Ole Miss, the Tigers scored 37 runs. Six guys in the Auburn lineup have an OPS over .900 and two have OPS over 1.100.

The main man in Auburn’s lineup is 3B Bryson Ware. The senior is in his third season with Auburn and was essentially a non-factor in his first two never having a wRC+ over 100. But this offseason, Ware reworked his swing to make it simpler and more compact, and it’s worked wonders.

Ware is slashing .352/.439/.715 with 19 HR this season and has a 158 wRC+. He’s gone from almost no one knowing his name, to spearheading one of the nation’s most dangerous offenses.

1B Cooper McMurray is the next name you need to know. While he’s seen limited action this year thanks to an injury at the start of the season, McMurray has been absolutely lethal since transferring from kU. He’s slashing .297/.474/.685 with 13 HR and a 161 wRC+ this year.

McMurray was alright at kansas, but has found a new groove with Auburn. He works a good AB, with a 23% walk rate, and obviously has plenty of pop. His return to the lineup was right around the time this Auburn team started to kick in gear, and it’s no secret he’s one of the main reasons why.

I’ve followed McMurray for a while because we grew up playing high school baseball against each other. I never really saw this from him, but he’s been spectacular this season. I will also add that the only time I faced him, I struck him out with my lethal 74 mph fastball. If he gives Mizzou problems, I hope Bieser knows I’ve got some eligibility left and a well-rested right arm.

While there are plenty of important bats to know in this Auburn lineup, the final player I want to highlight is SS Cole Foster. Considered a high MLB Draft prospect coming into the season, Foster has done nothing but help his case with a strong 2023.

He’s slashing .337/.430/.448 with 10 HR and 12 doubles. His 135 wRC+ is the highest of his career. Last weekend against Ole Miss, Foster went 9-15 with 3 HR and had multiple hits in each of the games. While he may not bring the pop of McMurray or Ware, Foster is certainly just as intimidating of a hitter.

On the Mound

Pitching is where things get dicey for Auburn. They have a team ERA of 6.01, and they don’t really have any arms that they can truly rely on to get outs after Joseph Gonzalez went down with injury earlier this year. With how hot Mizzou’s offense is, it will be crucial to capitalize on this weakness if MU is going to take this series.

Chase Allsup gets the ball for Auburn in Game 1. Allsup is just a sophomore and was successful as a reliever as a freshman. This year he’s functioned as a reliever and opener. His longest start of the year was 4 innings against LSU, so don’t expect him to give the Tigers too many innings in Game 1.

Allsup has thrown 32.1 innings this year and has a 7.24 ERA with a 7.51 FIP. There hasn’t been much good from the righty, and his .948 opponent OPS really raises your eyebrows. His start will be a huge opportunity for the Tigers to get off to a good start in the series. Chandler Murphy will oppose him, and if he gives the Tigers 5-6 solid innings and Missouri gets to Allsup, you’d like their chances to take that game.

Allsup’s go-to pitch is his big time heater. He runs it up into mid-to-high 90s and has a couple of decent off-speed offerings. According to D1Baseball, he has big-league stuff, but it just hasn’t materialized with his numbers this year.

The only other starter Auburn has named is Tommy Vail in Game 2. Vail is graduate transfer from TCU, and he’s been everything Auburn could’ve hoped and more this year. He has a 3.34 ERA in 59.1 innings and has made 12 starts. He also has 72 strikeouts to just 36 walks this year. Vail will come into this weekend’s contest full of confidence after throwing 8 innings against Ole Miss last weekend allowing just 2 hits and 1 ER.

Vail doesn’t have the velo that Allsup brings. He sits in the low 90s but he brings some late life with his heater. His curveball is his go-to secondary pitch.

Auburn listed Sunday’s starter as TBA, but there’s a good chance it could be Christian Herberholz. He got the start last Sunday, and tossed a scoreless two innings against Ole Miss. Herberholz has a 4.18 ERA in 47.1 innings this year.


Thursday @ 6 pm on SECN+

Friday @ 6 pm on SECN+

Saturday @ 2 pm on SECN +