Arkansas Razorbacks - 10-9 (0-3 SEC)
LSU travels to Fayettenam this weekend for a three game series against the Razorbacks of Arkansas. Arkansas has had a brutal start to their season, but they have played a lot of solid out of conference competiton. They lost to UCF and Maryland in a weekend tournament in Mobile, dropped two games to Gonzaga at home, and then were swept by Vanderbilt last weekend. They played really well in the Vanderbilt series, losing two of the three games by one run, but I doubt this was the start that the Hogs expected.
Bobby Wernes - 355/467/597
Rick Nomura - 343/395/507
Andrew Benintendi - 288/390/591
One thing the Hogs have in spades is big hitters. The team is hitting 0.295 overall, which is fifth in the SEC. Their 18 home runs are good for fourth in the SEC. Four of their six everyday players have at least two home runs. One thing they don't do is play small ball. Arkansas has only 4 sac bunts on the season.
Andrew Benintendi is the big bat in the lineup, having smacked five home runs on the season. Wernes and Nomura are both middle of the lineup guys that give the Hogs real depth. Both have two homers on the season and have really good power. Wernes leads Arkansas in triples with four, and Nomura has five doubles.
Thurs - Dominic Taccolini (3-2) - 3.58 ERA, 27.2 IP, 0.228 OBA, 29/8 K/BB
Friday - Taco Bell Anderson
Saturday - Trey Killian (2-2) - 0.84 ERA, 10.2 IP, 0.121 OBA, 9/0 K/BB
Josh Alberius - 2.45 ERA, 11.0 IP, 0.244 OBA, 10/3 K/BB
Lance Phillips - 3.38 ERA, 10.2 IP, 0.286 OBA, 13/6 K/BB
Jackson Lowery - 4.40 ERA, 14.1 IP, 0.306 OBA, 6/6 K/BB
Here is where Arkansas takes it on the chin a bit. Arkansas ranks last or in the bottom third of the SEC in almost every major pitching stat category. Arkansas is last in team ERA (4.43), tied for last in runs allowed (102), last in earned runs (82), and second to last in walks allowed (98). They've also hit the most batters in the SEC (28). Part of these stats is that Arkansas has played some really good teams (UCF, Maryland, Vandy), but that doesn't explain everything here. This just isn't a good pitching staff at the moment.
Arkansas has decent if unspectacular starters. Taccolini was slated to be the No. 3 starter at the beginning of the season, but he's moved into the Friday starting spot. He's got decent stuff, but won't match what we saw last weekend from Brady Bramlett. Taco Bell Anderson occupies the Friday spot, so LSU should be able to Live Mas on Friday. Trey Killian starts Saturday and will be getting his third start of the season and impressed in his last starts against Vandy. Killian went seven innings without giving up a hit against Vanderbilt.
Keys to the Weekend
Limit Big Innings: Arkansas has plenty of firepower in their lineup, so the LSU starters need to hit their spots consistently and not give the Arkansas bats gifts at the plate. The middle of the Arkansas lineup is especially potent, so keep an eye out for them.
Be Patient: Arkansas walks more batters than any team in the SEC. The bats need to be patient at the plate and really work the Arkansas starting pitchers. If they can chase their starters out early, the bats have the potential to really rough up the Arkansas bullpen.
Handle the Environment: It's the first away series in the SEC, so I'm sure the Arkansas faithful will give the guys hell at the plate and in the field. Just handle the environment and play your game Tigers, and you should come out with a series victory.
The Tiger bats are too much for the Arkansas pitching staff, and the Tigers take two of three from the Hogs.