Auburn, Ala.--Despite winning the last two series at less than full strength, Auburn Coach Butch Thompson is happy to have his starting rotation intact heading into a key series against rival Alabama this weekend with the return of sophomore Casey Mize to the mound.
With a record of 6-1 on the season in nine starts, Mize has an ERA of just 1.23 this season with 82 strikeouts and only eight walks in 58 ? innings. Dealing with arm fatigue the last two weekends, the Springville native feels good said his coach and is ready to take the ball again.
"He was at full velocity on Tuesday," Thompson said. "He faced five batters on our game field against our hitters. He looked like he hadn't pitched to hitters in a couple of weeks. Hopefully we can continue this week to get the command back, but from a health standpoint it made me comfortable seeing him face our hitters.
"More importantly it made Casey know he's ready to go back out and start a game. I'm thankful we had this window and time for a real check-in to make sure he's ready to go. He passed that test well on Tuesday. Casey thinks he's ready, our coaching staff thinks he's ready, and our team by seeing him throw in front of them on Tuesday, they feel like Casey's ready."
Throwing to batters on Wednesday and feeling good, Mize is set to pitch on Saturday for the No. 4 Tigers with junior Keegan Thompson (5-2, 2.05) getting the ball on Friday night and freshman Davis Daniel (3-2, 4.97) on Sunday.
"It's kind of back to what we remember at the beginning of the season," Butch Thompson said. "That's back to our original way we started the season and in conference play. After all of these adjustments it's nice to get back to our original weekend rotation."
Alabama will counter with senior RHP Nick Eicholtz (1-2, 5.91) on Friday and junior RHP Jake Walters (4-4, 3.99) on Saturday. The Crimson Tide is TBA on Sunday.
Getting the rotation back in order is good news with Auburn in the hunt for the SEC regular season title and also the all-important positioning for a host site in the NCAA Tournament.
Game times for the weekend series are scheduled for 6 p.m. on Friday night, 2 p.m. on Saturday and 4 p.m. on Sunday. Sunday’s game can be seen on the SEC Network.