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Weekend Preview: #2 LSU @ Georgia

The Tigers head to Athens to face the free falling Bulldogs.

Georgia Bulldogs - 20-18 Overall, 6-9 SEC
Rank: N/A
RPI: 96th
ISR: 96th

I'm trying to come up with an overarching theme to the competition that LSU has played thus far, and the word that comes to mind is lackluster.  Every team LSU has played so far has a losing record in conference.  Arkansas and Ole Miss have the best records of any teams LSU has played, and they are both 7-8.  Kentucky, the only team to take a series from the Tigers, owns a 5-9 record.  Basically, most of the SEC isn't very good this season.  And things really aren't getting any better with the Tigers heading to Georgia for the weekend.

Georgia is 20-18 overall, and 6-9 in the SEC.  They come into the weekend losing eight of their last ten games.  Georgia has faced some stiff competition so far this season.  They won a tought out of conference series against FSU, got swept out of conference by Georgia Southern, got swept by the surprising Missouri, and got swept by Vanderbilt.  The Bulldogs did sweep Tennesse and take a series from South Carolina, but dropped their most recent series on the road at Alabama. Basically, they are decent against lower to mid teir competition, but struggle against really good teams.

Note:  All stats below are conference only stats

The Bats

Stephen Wrenn - 297/384/438
Skyler Weber - 217/333/333
Keegan McGovern- 314/415/457

The Bulldogs don't do a whole lot at the plate that really impresses me from a look at the numbers.  In conference play, Georgia is second to last in batting average at 0.239, only ahead of Ole Miss.  They aren't really a power hitting team.  They only have 28 extra base hits in conference play, but nine of those are home runs.  They are somewhat patient at the plate with the fifth most walks in the SEC, but they are also fifth in strikeouts.  They do small ball more than anybody with 16 sac bunts, which leads the SEC.  They do steal bases pretty effectively.  Their 23 stolen bases are good for fourth in the conference, and they have only been caught once in SEC play.  Basically, they look to manufacture runs instead of overpowering you with offense like LSU tends to do.

Most of the offense will run through Stephen Wrenn and Skyler Weber.  Wrenn is the most likely to hit the ball out of the park with three home runs in SEC play.  Wrenn's nine steals leads the Bulldogs in SEC play, so he's also their best base runner.  Weber also has home run power (2 in SEC play), and is fairly effective on the base paths with four stolen bases in as many attempts.

The Arms

RHP Sean McLaughlin - 2-1, 6.21 ERA, 29.0 IP, 0.302 OBA, 27/13 K/BB
LHP Ryan Lawlor - 2-2, 3.60 ERA, 30.0 IP, 0.195 OBA, 44/13 K/BB
LHP Jared Walsh (maybe) - 1-1, 4.12 ERA, 24.0 IP, 0.198 OBA, 21/24 K/BB
Bo Tucker - 3.27 ERA, 11.0 IP, 0.195 OBA, 16/7 K/BB
Jared Cheek - 6.55 ERA, 11.0 IP, 0.341 OBA, 10/10 K/BB
Mike Mancuso - 3.00 ERA, 9.0 IP, 0.235 OBA, 4/2 K/BB

Erratic is probably the best word to describe the Georgia pitching staff.  They are in the top three in strikeouts and are in the top three of hits allowed, but have the most walks in the league.  Those walks are absolutely killing them because they are about mid pack in every other pitching category.  None of there pitchers really scares you, but no one looks like they'll just be a push over either.  If they clean up the walks, they'll probably be a pretty darn good staff.  Hopefully their command is still off this weekend and the Tigers can't get plenty of free passes that lead to easy runs.

Keys to the Weekend

Alex Lange: Lange finally gets the call for the Friday start, so it's up to him to set the tone for the weekend.  Hopefully he's fully recovered from the soreness he felt and is his usual electric self.

PATIENCE: I know I said I was going to stop calling for it, but BE PATIENT AT THE PLATE PLEASE? Georgia walks more batters than anyone else.  Take advantage of it.

Improved Defense: The defense been stellar over the past few weeks.  There have been few mind numbing errors, and generally solid decision making in the field.  Just keep maintaining that high standard.

Horrid Prediction

Ugh.  I want to say we sweep, but I said I'd never do that again.  We should sweep, but I predict we'll take two of three because I'm a baseball fan, which makes me annoyingly supersitious.