As LSU limps into the final series of 2019, the Bayou Bengals are (somehow) narrowly holding onto one of the last regional spots. This week will make or break that projection, starting with the three game set against Auburn Thursday night.
Simply put, LSU must take the series from Auburn to host a regional. The running gag is that the weeklong tournament held in Hoover is the LSU Invitational, but I don’t feel comfortable pinning all the hosting hopes on making a deep run to next weekend. The season so far has been disappointing, but the book on the team hasn’t been closed yet. Get a win and get back in The Box in June. Then we’ll take it from there.
Game Times and Pitching Matchups
Game 1: Thursday, 6:30 p.m., SEC Network+, 98.1 FM
AUB: Elliott Anderson, JR LHP (3.70 ERA, 48.2 IP, 2.48 K/BB [52/21])
LSU: Eric Walker, SO RHP (5.21 ERA, 57 IP, 2.14 K/BB [47/22])
Game 2: Friday, 7:00, SECN+, 98.1
Aub: Jack Owen, SO LHP (1.91 ERA, 42.1 IP, 5.71 K/BB [40/7])
LSU: Landon Marceaux, FR RHP (6.56 ERA, 35.2 IP, 1.53 K/BB [26/17])
Game 3: Saturday, 2:00, SECN+, 98.1
Aub: Tanner Burns, SO RHP (2.83 ERA, 70 IP, 4.55 K/BB [91/20]
At A Glance
RPI 50: 13-17
RPI 25: 7-13
Nobody has played a more difficult schedule than Auburn this season, and yes playing LSU has something to do with that. As important as this weekend is for LSU, it’s equally important to the Plains Tigers. The two teams are nearly identical, with the biggest difference being LSU has won one more game overall and one less in non-conference play while dropping three more. Auburn’s SOS is 1, LSU’s is 6. The two sit back to back in RPI.
In a weird way, this is probably the biggest series happening in the country this weekend.
At The Plate
Edouard Julien: .242/.447/.378, 46 H, 13 2B, 1 3B, 8 HR, 44 RBI, 63 SO, 38 BB
Conor Davis: .304/.454/.363, 59 H, 9 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, 32 RBI, 46 SO, 15 BB
Judd Ward: .284/.401./.398, 56 H, 10 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 26 RBI, 39 SO, 31 BB
Will Holland: .253/.412/.385, 46 H, 8 2B, 7 HR, 25 RBI, 49 SO, 27 BB
Rankin Woley: .280/.405/.341, 56 H, 14 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 26 RBI, 51 SO, 15 BB
Yes, that Rankin Woley. I’m completely expecting him to go off this weekend, but that’s beside the point.
Auburn is nothing to really tremble at. They do a lot of things well and definitely benefit from playing in their bandbox of a ballpark a bit. Quebec’s own Eduoard Julien is the big power threat, but as with most big boppers there is a ton of swing and miss with his swing. Curiously enough, he has a pretty low slugging percentage for a guy with 13 doubles and eight home runs,
Conor Davis is the most well-rounded hitter, the only Tiger with 26+ ABs to hit above .300. Even still, if he were to play red rover and walk across the diamond into the LSU dugout, he would immediately take the team lead in strikeouts.
Hitting is not Auburn’s strong suit, and LSU needs to take advantage of that.
On The Mound
Cody Greehill: 3.05 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 41.1 IP, 3.89 K/BB (35/9), .231 BAA, 9 SV
Brooks Fuller: 4.04 ERA, 1.66 WHIP, 42.1 IP, 1.00 K/BB (34/34), .232 BAA
Will Morrison: 4.74 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 24.2 IP, 1.50 K/BB (15/10), .273 BAA
Wade Garrett: 4.86 ERA, 1.81 WHIP, 33.1 IP, 1.52 K/BB (41/27), .260 BAA
Okay so Auburn has REALLY good starting pitching and a shakey at best bullpen. You all know what that means, so say it with me:
BATTERS NEED TO EAT PITCHER AND WORK COUNTS
LSU’s main objective for the first six or so innings is get as many foul balls and full counts as possible. I realize LSU’s starters are a hodgepodge of band-aids and old bubble gum, but if they can hold the line until the batters can break into the bullpen I can see LSU taking advantage in the late stages of a game.
I’ve been vanilla all year, but I’ll go for it here. LSU Sweep. Tigers hold an advantage in two phases of the game while fielding is pretty much a wash. I don’t expect the home team to blow the visitors back to Alabama, but I can see LSU winning all three games with a run differential less than four.