Auburn, Ala.--Missing last weekend’s start against Arkansas because of arm fatigue, Auburn sophomore Casey Mize could be back this weekend for an important SEC baseball series at 10th-ranked Mississippi State for the No. 7 Tigers (30-13) if all goes well on Wednesday and Thursday.
Throwing for the first time in more than a week when he picked up the ball on Monday for soft tosses, Mize did long tosses on Tuesday. Coach Butch Thompson said so far so good for the SEC strikeout leader.
“We’ve thrown two consecutive days,” Thompson said. “I think it has gone well and that’s the reason why it’s been two consecutive days. We’re going to try to throw a competitive pen (bullpen) because he needs to be able to throw a competitive pen before he can get a start in a ball game.
“Saturday he could still feel it a little bit. Coming back out he threw Monday and then again yesterday. He got up to 150 feet. Hopefully, we can have a good bullpen (on Wednesday). He’s excited about it and wanted to throw again to get to the Wednesday bullpen. We’ll make the call Thursday morning after he sleeps on that outing tomorrow.
“We’ll try to make a determination and hopefully get him back in there, but we don’t want to put the cart before the horse," the coach added. "We have got one more hurdle to get over, which is tomorrow (Wednesday’s) bullpen.”
Currently 6-1 on the season with an ERA of just 1.23, Mize has been one of the best pitchers in the SEC this season. In 58 2/3 innings he has struck out 82 batters while walking just eight.
Getting him back this weekend would be huge for the Tigers against a Mississippi State team that leads the SEC with a 13-5 conference record, one game ahead of Auburn’s 12-6 mark.
Much like they did following Keegan Thompson’s missed start against South Carolina earlier in the year, the Tigers aren't going to change too many things up this weekend even if Mize does return. That means keeping the rotation as it was last weekend and figuring things out on Sunday.
“Thursday morning we’ll announce whatever we’re going to do in order to be out in front of that and communicate, but I would say almost 100 percent right now with him (Mize) being a Wednesday bullpen we would stay exactly the same,” the second-year coach said. “We threw Keegan’s (Keegan Thompson) bullpen to line him up for Friday and we will throw Davis Daniel’s pen to line him up for Saturday. I guess in my mind we’re TBA and we’re waiting on an answer from Casey to see what we’ll do on Sunday. That’s what would make the most sense to me right now.”
Auburn and Mississippi State will play a three-game series this weekend at Dudy Noble Field in Starkville with the game times scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CDT on Friday, 7 p.m. on Saturday and noon on Sunday. Both Saturday and Sunday will be televised on the SEC Network.