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Weekend Series Preview: Tennessee @ LSU

Fresh off an embarrassing loss to Nicholls State, LSU will take its #1 overall ranking to a weekend series with probably the worst team in the conference.  

Sorry, I still can't quite understand the Nicholls State thing.  They threw 8 different pitchers.  How did every single one of them have success against us?

Baseball is a funny sport.  Sometimes good teams lose to bad teams and there's nothing you can do about it.

Anyway, on to the weekend series.  At 3-12 in the conference, Tennessee is two games behind Mississippi State for the worst record in the league.  What's more, every one of their wins has come at home.  On the road, they are 0-6 in the SEC, with losses to Alabama and Florida.  

It's no surprise if you follow LSU baseball that we're going with Anthony Renaudo on Friday night.  He will stack his 2.68 ERA against righty Aaron Tullo's 4.89 ERA.  Renaudo is one of the most dominating pitchers in the conference.  Tullo... isn't.

LSU has rotated the Saturday start between Louis Coleman and Austin Ross.  Coleman is the second part of a devastating 1-2 punch, and according to LSUSports.net, we will be going with Coleman on Saturday and Ross on Sunday.  Either way, on Saturday LSU will likely be going against lefty Nick Hernandez, who sports an ERA of 5.29.  

Call me crazy, but I get a little nervous whenever we're scheduled to go against a left-handed starter.  Granted, Nick Hernandez's ERA is not particularly scary, but LSU's lineup is stacked with left-handed hitters, and some of them have always seemed particularly inept at hitting left-handed pitchers (Jared Mitchell comes to mind).

As a whole, Tennessee is one of the worst hitting teams in the conference, sporting a .291 batting average (compared to LSU's .309), which is good for 11th in the league.  They actually hit with decent power, so their slugging percentage is closer to mid-pack.  They don't get a lot of walks and they are 11th in the league in number of stolen bases (though the percentage successful is comparable to LSU's).  It all adds up to a poor offense, ranked 9th in the league in runs scored.

The pitching is nothing to get excited about either.  They are 11th in the league in ERA and 10th in runs allowed.  Their pitchers give up a LOT of home runs.  For comparison, Alabama, Arkansas, and Ole Miss have given up the fewest home runs in the league with 27 each.  Tennessee has given up 52, almost double the leaders, and 11 more than the second worst team in the league.  

On the bright side for Tennessee, they actually lead the league in fielding percentage.  So, there's that.  Also, teams don't seem to want to test their catcher by stealing bases.  I'm not sure exactly why.  Maybe it's because they pitch so poorly that no one wants to get out on the bases.  Those of you paying attention know that we give up a lot of outs on the bases.

All this points to LSU looking for a big weekend, possibly even a sweep.  However, if you paid attention last night, you know that you are sometimes very, very wrong about these things.