Auburn, Ala.--Facing Top 10 South Carolina this weekend at Plainsman Park in a showdown of 5-1 teams in SEC play, the Auburn Tigers may be without junior starter Keegan Thompson as he continues to battle shoulder tendinitis said Coach Butch Thompson.
Coming out of his start at Georgia last Friday night after just four innings, Keegan Thompson was shut down until some light throwing on Wednesday. Wanting to err on the side of caution, the coach said this weekend that means moving Casey Mize and Davis Daniel up a day in the rotation and leaving Sunday as a question mark.
"We've thrown and we feel good with all of the information I get from our staff and our doctors, but we've decided to move Casey Mize to Friday and Davis Daniel and TBA. I know we have to announce a 27-man roster (for SEC games) but we'll take every precaution knowing this is a marathon not a sprint.
"I think Keegan will let me know as a coach when he wants the baseball. We'll just keep trying to get better every day. We get another practice opportunity today for him to throw again. It all looks good but we want to do everything we can to take care of a very important piece of our pitching staff."
One of Auburn’s two aces this season, the Cullman native is 4-0 this season in six starts with an ERA of just 0.70. Teams are batting just .158 this season off Keegan Thompson and he has 26 strikeouts with only seven walks.
A possibility this weekend would have been to keep Mize and Daniel on Saturday and Sunday and start someone else on Friday. Allowing the players to stay on their weekend routines is something many coaches believe in, but Butch Thompson said everything they do is wrapped around giving the team its best chance to win games. That meant putting Mize on Friday night.
"You're competitive and every time we take the field we're trying to win the ballgame," he said. "If somebody didn't get us off to a good start, and that could be anybody, you just know how much bullpen you potentially would use on a Friday.
"We think in that next-man up mentality we think that Casey Mize gives us our best chance to win on a Friday. In some regards game one, two and three have no difference to me. They all count just the same in the standings. We went from two pens (bullpens) a week to one and we think it's very comfortable for Casey and Davis to have to do this."
The good news is that Mize has been just as good this year for the Tigers. With a 3-1 record, the sophomore has an ERA of just 0.98 himself and has 51 strikeouts with only six walks to show for it.
Behind him will be the true freshman Daniel on Saturday. Coming off his best performance of the season when he pitched six scoreless innings in a win at Georgia, Daniel is 2-0 on the year with a 4.44 ERA.
For South Carolina on the mound junior RHP Will Crowe gets the call on Friday for South Carolina. A perfect 3-0 in six starts, he has a 2.75 ERA but leads the team with 41 strikeouts. Going on Saturday is perhaps the best pitcher for the Gamecocks, big right-hander Clarke Schmidt. Also a perfect 3-0 this season in five starts, he has a miniscule 1.12 earned run average.
Giving up just 2.74 earned runs per nine innings this season, the Gamecocks will to send Adam Hill to the mound on Sunday. Just 1-3 this year, Hill has an ERA of just 2.15 on the season.
Game times for the weekend series are scheduled for 6 p.m. on Friday, 5 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday. Saturday’s game can be seen on ESPNU with Friday and Sunday available only on SECNetwork+.