Week after week, we've watched Auburn test themselves against the best in the SEC and come out victorious in all but one series. They've played - and beat - most of the favorites for the 2017 SEC title. Now, for the second weekend in a row, Auburn will face the team leading the SEC race.
The difference this week is that Auburn will have all of its aces available. Will Casey Mize pitch this weekend? I think that's how the first two games go. Auburn hasn't won a middle game in a series since the sweep of Florida in Week 1 of the SEC schedule. If the Tigers go into Sunday looking to sweep, then I think Mize may rest another weekend. If they're in a rubber game or just needing a victory to avoid being swept, then I think Mize will see the mound.
Keegan Thompson and Davis Daniel will be on the mound for the Tigers, though. That's always good news for Auburn fans. Now, let's take a look at Kevin's Always Awesome Infographic and get a look at the numbers in this one.
Updated the Auburn Baseball infographic with the MIss. State Rotation: pic.twitter.com/zhQncRIdoC— PlainsmanParkingLot (@AUPPL) April 27, 2017
UPDATE: Due to weather, the schedule for Games 2 and 3 has changed!
SCHEDULE CHANGE #Auburn and MSU will now play a DH Saturday at 2 & 7 pm due to inclement weather Sundayhttps://t.co/yUzIBDc5AL— Auburn Baseball (@AuburnBaseball) April 28, 2017
So, I like these numbers for the Tigers. I don't know enough about MSU's pitchers, but if they're throwing pitches that aren't amazing breaking balls (which Auburn has struggled with), then I think Auburn is in a good position to get the bat on the ball.
In terms of pitching, we know Auburn has fantastic starting pitchers. They're going to have to go a long way in each game, though, as they've needed to do every weekend as Auburn's bullpen is still a mixed bag. Brent Rooker is one of the better hitters in the SEC. He's currently batting an amazing .405 and has 17 home runs and 61 RBIs. He has an unbelievable .893 slugging percentage. And he's just one of a few great hitters on this MSU club. There's a reason they've only lost one SEC series this year.
For Auburn, Jonah Todd leads the way with a .384 batting average. He and Jay Estes (.288) are the Double Brothers, with 13 and 14, respectively. There are three other Tigers with double-digit doubles, too. Freshman Conor Davis has been a huge addition to the team, senior Daniel Robert is really taking on a leadership role, and then there's Josh Anthony.
Anthony entered last weekend as one of the best fielders on the team, but he'd struggled to find his bat that made him such a huge prospect coming out of JUCO. He's currently hitting .290, which doesn't look great, but to show you how big his weekend was against Arkansas, he went into that series batting .248. If Anthony has really found his bat, then this group becomes even more of a threat to the rest of college baseball.
It's a road SEC series in a really tough park. There's the fun aspect that it's Butch Thompson's first trip back to Starkville since he left as an assistant coach to be Auburn's head man. The lead in the SEC race with only three series to go (after this one) is on the line. This is a huge series for Auburn and for the SEC race in general. Auburn has earned their way into the Top 10 when they were expected to finish last in the conference. A series win here and the SEC lead could really put Auburn in the driver's seat for hosting a regional and maybe - yes, maybe - even a national seed.
GO GET 'EM, TIGERS!!!
How to Watch (also in the Infographic):
Friday, 28 April: 6:30 pm Central, WatchESPN
Saturday, 29 April: 7:00 pm Central, SEC Network
Sunday, 30 April: 12:00 pm Central, SEC Network