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Weekend Preview: UK @ #1 LSU

Time to solidify that #1 ranking.

via Watson Tiger
Kentucky Wildcats - 16-9 overall, 2-4 SEC
Warren Nola RPI:  51st
ISR: 68th
Rank: N/A

After surviving the trip to Fayettenam last weekend, the Tigers get to host Kentucky at the Box.  The weather should be fantastic for the series this weekend with average temps in the mid 70's.

Kentucky comes into Alex Box with at 16-9 record overall, and 2-4 in the SEC.  They opened SEC play by getting swept at South Carolina, but bounced back last weekend taking two of three from Mississippi St. in Lexington.  But I doubt anyone in Kentucky noticed because they're all busy drooling over the basketball team.

The Bats

Ka'ai Tom - 402/474/567
Kyle Barrett - 391/432/464
JaVon Shelby - 322/466/456

Kentucky definitely has some firepower in their lineup.  Tom leads the team overall with his .402 batting average, but he's been less than impressive in SEC play so far, only hitting 0.269.  Barrett and Shelby have been tearing it up though.  Barrett is hitting 0.444 in SEC play, but only has one extra base hit (a home run).  Shelby is hitting an even 0.300 in conference and has two doubles.

Kentucky overall has five guys batting over .300, so they do a decent job at the plate.  They're in the top 5 of the conference in hitting, and hover about mid pack in all of the other hitting stats.  They don't do anything really exceptionally, but they don't do anything wrong either.  I imagine this could be infuriating.

What the ATVS people will be doing on Saturday

the meats

There will be BBQ, and tailgating, and it will be glorious.

The Arms

Starters
Fri - Zach Brown - 2-2, 2.43 ERA, 33.1 IP, 0.182 OBA, 31/15 K/BB
Sat - Dustin Beggs - 3-2, 3.44 ERA, 36.2 IP, 0.222 OBA, 28/10 K/BB
Sun - Kyle Cody - 2-2, 4.88 ERA, 31.1 IP, 0.237 OBA, 30/7 K/BB
Bullpen
Brad Schaenzer - 2.12 ERA, 17.0 IP, 0.214 OBA, 10/5 K/BB
Zach Logue - 5.49 ERA, 19.2 IP, 0.284 OBA, 19/4 K/BB
Dylan Dwyer - 2.19 ERA, 12.1 IP, 0.229 OBA, 8/6 K/BB

Well, two weekends in a row LSU gets to face a bottom of the conference pitching staff.  Kentucky ranks second to last in ERA (4.29), has given up the most home runs in the SEC (21), and is second to last in runs allowed (135).  I suspect part of the home runs is the weird configuration of Cliff Hagan Stadium (only 310 ft. to right field).  Still, it's worth watching, especially with the Tigers hitting the long ball pretty well this year.

Kentucky's starters are a solid and fairly reliable bunch it seems.  Brown has solidified himself as the Wildcat's Friday starter, and has the potential to give the Tigers fits in the opening game.  Beggs and Cody are a bit more hit-able, and have given up nine home runs and 15 doubles between them.

The bullpen is struggling for Kentucky.  I usually look for innings pitched to see who a team turns to from the pen, and the three guys I've listed above don't really scare you with those stats.  If anything they make you wonder how much damage the LSU lineup might do to them.  They throw a lot of strikes, but they get hit on a bunch.  Only two players in their bullpen have an OBA below .200.  If LSU can get the Kentucky starters out of the game early, they might be able to pour some runs on against the Wildcats bullpen.

Keys to the Weekend

Get to their Bullpen: After mentioning the struggles of the UK bullpen, the Tigers should look to pounce on the UK starters early and chase them out of the game.  Get to the UK bullpen, and hope the floodgates open.

Steal Steal Steal: UK has the third most stolen bases against them in the SEC with 27 on the season.  As proficient as LSU has been on the base paths, I would expect they test the UK catcher early to put as much pressure as possible on the UK starting pitchers.

Horrible Prediction

LSU should sweep this series.  The Tigers possess better starting pitching and a deeper lineup.  Couple that with UK's bullpen struggles, and the Tigers should have a pretty good weekend.