What a weekend for baseball it's going to be! The weather in Auburn is supposed to be beautiful. The Tigers are ranked. And, they have a chance to make a real statement in the SEC race against another ranked team.
Of course, there is a downside, too. The Tigers enter the series against the 6th ranked Gamecocks unsure of the status of normal Friday night ace Keegan Thompson. Casey Mize will step into the Friday night role with Davis Daniel pitching Saturday. Sunday's starter for the Tigers has yet to be announced. It could be that the coaches decide Keegan is good to go for at least a brief period on Sunday. Or, they could rest him the whole weekend.
From the stats, this should be a pretty even series. What does that mean? Well, to me, it means that the Tigers' pitching is going to be extremely important in this one. If Keegan Thompson can't go Sunday, it honestly wouldn't shock me to see Cole Lipscomb or Gabe Klobosits step in as the starter. Or, possibly, Andrew Mitchell. Sunday's pitcher will probably be determined by how Friday and Saturday's games go. If the Tigers win both, then I don't think there's any way they go with Keegan as the Sunday choice even if he feels healthy. If, however, they go into a Sunday rubber match or facing a sweep, then you may see Keegan for a few innings just to see how he's feeling. I don't think it will be long no matter what. To be honest, I doubt we see him at all this weekend, but we'll see how things play out.
The Tigers are going to need to get the bats back on track against South Carolina's pitching. The batters struggled a bit against Georgia and then Alabama Tuesday night. South Carolina's pitchers are very good, but they're not unhittable. Chasing the starters from the mound early as they did against Florida would go a long way towards a series win.
This isn't a series that Auburn should feel bad about dropping even though it's at home. Winning this series, though, puts Auburn smack into the middle of the talk for who will win the SEC West and maybe the conference as a whole. If you're in town, get out and support your Tigers!