Remember back in March when we were all a bit concerned with Fresno State's really good starting rotation? Fun times. Well this weekend, the Ags get to take on Vandy's stellar rotation, featuring the current SEC Pitcher of the Week, Jordan Sheffield.
The good news for the Ags is that the Commodores have had some struggles on the road this season. In their three road series of the conference season so far, they've lost two. You might remember a few weeks ago when they traveled over to Baton Rouge and melted down in almost fantastic fashion in game one. Sheffield was tagged for nine runs (seven earned).
They've played much better in the last week or so, sweeping Georgia at home, but the week before that they dropped a series at Tennessee, whose RPI sits at 74.
Thursday, 6:00 pm
Jordan Sheffield (7-2, 2.29)
When Sheffield is on, he's one of the best pitchers in the conference, hands down. He's got a season WHIP of 1.146, he's only given up one home run, and he has a mere .211 batting average against (BAA). He's also currently riding a 24 inning scoreless streak. There's really not much to say about him except that he's really good.
Friday, 6:00 pm
Kyle Wright (5-3, 2.11)
Wright has also been really, really good this year as you can see by his sparkling 2.11 ERA. His 1.207 WHIP and .237 BAA mean he's another very tough pitcher to hit, and yet another tough test for the Aggie bats. He's only given up two home runs on the season. Last weekend against Georgia, he threw seven strong innings of three run baseball on five hits and one walk, while striking out nine Bulldogs.
Sunday, 2:00 pm
While the Sunday starter hasn't been announced by Vandy coach Tim Corbin, they went with freshman Patrick Raby (6-0, 1.97) last weekend against Georgia. Raby has made seven starts this season, and last weekend he gave up two runs on three hits and a walk in six innings, while striking out six Bulldogs of his own. His WHIP? 0.820. K/9? 10.969. He good too.
The biggest issue the Dores have had this year is inconsistency with their offense. Jeren Kendall and Bryan Reynolds have been very good this year, as expected, but outside of those two, everyone else has been decidedly average. During their current five game winning streak, the offense has performed much better. They scored a total of 35 runs in their sweep of Georgia, but the Ags scored 30 on the Bulldogs as well, so we know they're susceptible to that.
A big key to this series is how the Aggie pitchers carry themselves after a rather lackluster performance in Fayetteville last weekend (outside of Kyle Simonds, of course). The Ags' three starters for this weekend are Turner Larkins on Thursday, Brigham Hill on Friday and Kyle Simonds on Saturday. So while the SEC's best offense is battling it out with one of the conference's best pitching staffs, it will be very important that Rob Childress' pitchers bring their A game because this series is set up to look a lot like the Alabama series a couple of weeks ago.