It's going to become cliche over the next few weeks to say that "every game matters" on LSU's path to the post season, but that is the reality that we face thanks to the skid. Winning our last 3 SEC series is vital to us recovering our seeding in Hoover and our chances at SR hosting. Lest you think I'm over-reacting, I'm pretty sure that hosting v. non-hosting Regionals and Supers has a profound effect on whether or not LSU makes it to Omaha. (I'll back this up with statistics early next week.)
But lets not get ahead of ourselves. The 'Dores (33-12, 10-9 in league play) are coming off a series loss to Tennessee, a mid-week stunner at Austin Peay (lost on a go-ahead run on a wild pitch of all things) and a single game over UGA last Friday. While they are just behind us in the standings, it's a given fact that they would have swept UGA and would currently be ahead of us if not for the several feet of water on Vandy's Nashville campus last Saturday morning. You may think that Vanderbilt will come in a little too rested due to the 2 canceled games and recovery efforts from severe flooding, but their field was in playable shape on Tuesday and thanks to the cancellations effect on their record, they are under just as much pressure to come away with a few wins this weekend.
The 'Dores bring in yet another league-leading pitching staff (ERA 3.31 with 135 Ks) with good fielding. If it seems like a Vandy team you've seen before, it's because that's the way they build their team. Conventional Wisdom says that Vandy plays in a pitcher's park and their tendency to give up more runs on the road, even in wins, kinda bears that out. But make no mistake, they are the best staff in the league and we will truly know on Sunday if the Tigers have gotten out of their hitting slump. The only known weakness in their staff is that they only have 1 experienced lefty reliever, but Grayson Garvin's recent success lessens even that advantage. If you have forgotten, below is why they only have one experienced lefty reliever left.
Our own pitching woes continue (team ERA is all the way up to 6.58) as yet again CPM will make a gametime decision on the Saturday and Sunday starters. Ross' Jekyll-and-Hyde performance on Tuesday did nothing to change his outlook, but I have to believe he is gonna get one of those starts. If Ranaudo can avoid high-winds and being beaned with his own pitches, we should be just fine Friday night. I highly doubt we will ever see Ott start again in a normal situation. However, they will all have to deal with Anthony "Go-Go" Gomez all weekend. He's the best hitter in the league and one of the top freshmen in the country with a .445 BA and only 5 K's in 119 at-bats.
TV is simple this weekend for once, Saturday and Sunday on Cox Sports (Saturday also on Comcast sports in some regions). No TV Friday. Also note that Saturday is another night game. Scuttlebutt around the league is that the SEC will be scheduling more Saturday night games next season due to crowd response this season and I think that's a great idea. Saturdays game is also on the ESPN3.com service where supported.
Weather is hot and cloudy today with a "cool" front passing through sometime saturday, dropping the temps about 10 degrees and bringing a slight chance of rain on Saturday, but it should be done by gametime.
Game 1-7pm-No TV
LSU - Jr. RHP Anthony Ranaudo (2-2, 7.01 ERA, 25.2 IP, 12 BB, 26 SO)
VU - So. RHP Sonny Gray (6-4, 2.22 ERA, 69.0 IP, 31 BB, 72 SO)
Game 2-6pm-Cox, Comcast, ESPN3.com
LSU - TBA
VU - So. RHP Jack Armstrong (5-1, 3.83 ERA, 51.2 IP, 22 BB, 33 SO)
LSU - TBA
VU - Jr. RHP Taylor Hill (4-3, 3.38 ERA, 72.0 IP, 17 BB, 50 SO)
After the break, Inside LSU Baseball with CPM