Baseball preview: Kentucky – Rock M Nation

There is no shame in drifting in Tennessee for Missouri – they are the best team in America. With that being said, what is important to dispense with that chain is how will the Tigers turn back? This week they face the win-win team Kentucky, and if the Tigers play their cards right, a sweep is out of the question. Let’s split up the feral cats to see what the Como leopards expect this weekend.

Set up

One year ago, Mason Hazelwood was dominating Kentucky. He was 3-0 and had a 2.13 ERA, but his season was derailed due to Tommy John’s surgery. Last year, he’s been on the road to recovery, and has finally gotten himself back to where he was a year ago, starting Friday nights at the Kentucky Wildcats.

Hazelwood is back in regular rotation, and this will be his third start of the season with three more comfortable games as well. In just 9 rounds this year Hazelwood has a 3.00 ERA with a 10K and 8 BB, but the more he has shown this year, the more comfortable he should have been.

Expect Hazelwood to sit in the high ’80s to low ’90s and give hitters a heavy dose of fastballs. For many shooters regaining a ball break order is the last thing that will come after TJ surgery.

Here’s what the start of Hazelwood looked like last week:

The Cats’ Saturday starter is currently listed as TBD due to Darren Williams’ injury, so for the sake of this preview we’ll assume the Wildcats are going in the same direction they did last week using Zack Lee as the opener.

Lee has a 4.38 ERA in a small 12.1 this season, and it has never been prolonged. We expect this to be a Bullpen mostly. While Lee is there, he’ll be sitting low in the ’90s with his heater on and the slider will blend in and change.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any video of Lee, so we’ll go straight to the start of Sunday.

Sunday will feature the only arm that’s been a consistent part of the Kentucky spin, Tyler Bosma. He started 7 starts this year with the Wildcats and has a 3.77 ERA in 31 rounds with a 30K. His best start came against a talented team in Georgia when he threw 6 rounds stops, but his recent starts have been less successful.

Bosma would sit low in the ’90s with his Fastball and slider/cutter with a change to his non-fastball pitches. Its slider is a killer and punishes lefties with a lot of punches. Against the right, it’s more balanced mixing fastballs, shifts and sliders to keep hitters balanced. Given that Hazelwood is still recovering from injury, Bosma is probably the most challenging of all Wildcat shooters.

Here’s what the rest of the Kentucky shooters did this year:

via ukathletics.com

Multiply

As far as batting goes, Kentucky has a clear leader on the board, Chase Estebe. Junior 3B has a full year cutting the .344/.459/.648 plates with 9 HR and 29 RBI. He’s also the captain in the stolen bases after pulling 11 bags in 13 attempts this year.

However, Estep has recently hit a tricky point in the plate with just one stroke in his last four games, but that also underscores the success he’s had this year that his numbers still look pretty good despite being in a stagnant 1-16. Don’t count on Estep’s slump continuing into this weekend with his hitter quality. Expect him to get into the middle of the Kentucky lineup at the triple hole.

One of the players Estep leads a lot is LF Hunter Jump. Moving from Arizona, Jump seamlessly integrated into the Kentucky State lineup, making the standout his home and becoming the catalyst for this crime. He cuts .326/.405/.411 with 2 HR and 19 RBI while leading the team on kicks scored.

Unlike Estep, Jump is in a hot streak on the board now. In four of his last six matches, Jump has had a multi-hit performance, and his confidence should blossom as he heads into the series with the Tigers. Missouri shooters will have to be locked into each of his bats to limit the damage they can do to mid-ranking players like Estep.

Here is a graph showing what it was like to jump on the board in the conference play:

here

Another bat that showed some serious pop this year for the Wildcats is 1B Jacob Plastiak. This is Plastiak’s first full season as a major Cats shareholder after he found his way to Lexington via JUCO, and he made the most of his opportunity. Plastiak is associated with Estep for Team Leader in HR with a score of 9 and is the singles leader in RBI with 33 all downed .279/.395/.557. Earlier this season, he played a 2 HR match against the Ole Miss.

Plastiak hits somewhere between 4th and 6th in the Kentucky lineup normally, but based on his performance this year it didn’t really matter where he hits; It will do damage wherever it is.

This is one of his bombshells against Ole Miss:

Here’s what all the Kentucky hitters did this year:

via ukathletics.com

game schedule

Thursday | 8 pm | Spino

Friday | 7 pm | SEC + . network

Saturday | 2 pm | SEC . network

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