Vanderbilt-MSU Baseball Series Preview

Vanderbilt and Mississippi State face off in a three-game Southeastern Conference series this weekend at Starkville.

Weather - Friday the temperatures should be in the mid 60s at gametime and go down to the high 50s by the end of the game. There is no chance for rain | Saturday, like Friday, will likely see temperatures should be in the mid 60s at gametime and go down to the high 50s by the end of the game. There is a 10% chance for rain | Sunday's temperature should be in the mid 50s during the game. The wind is expected to be from the north at 12 miles per hour. There is a 20% chance of rain during the game.

Gametimes (Central Time) - Friday 6:30 pm | Saturday 7:30 pm | Sunday 1:30 pm.

Coaches - Tim Corbin has been Vanderbilt's head coach since 2003. During that eleven-season span, his teams have won 467 games and lost 229. In SEC regular season play, he has a 188-137 record. He has seen his teams win three SEC championships and appear in nine postseason NCAA Regionals with four advancing to Super Regional play and one team playing in the College World Series. His teams overall NCAA postseason record is 29-20.

John Cohen, who is entering his sixth season as the head coach at Mississippi State, has an overall record of 177-131 and a 61-88 record in SEC play. His 2011, 2012 and 2013 teams appeared in regionals with his 2011 team advancing to a Super Regional and his 2013 team advancing to the College World Series where they were national runner-up. His teams overall NCAA postseason record is 13-7.

Vanderbilt Road/Mississippi State Home Records - Vanderbilt is 5-0 on the road while Mississippi State is 12-4 at home.

Expected Pitching Rotations - Vanderbilt is expected to start junior RHP Tyler Beede (4-1, 0.84 ERA) Friday night, junior LHP Jared Miller (5-0, 0.57) Saturday night and sophomore RHP Tyler Ferguson (3-0, 1.63) Sunday afternoon.

Beede is a former first-rounder who decided to attend Vanderbilt instead of signing with Toronto out of his school. His progress has been phenomenal but also what you would expect out of a first-rounder. After having a 4.52 ERA and a 1-5 record as a freshman, he was 14-0 with a 2.10 ERA last season and is, as you can see above, 4-1 with a 0.84 ERA this season. His 2014 numbers are staggering. Not only does he have a 0.84 ERA but teams are only hitting .128 against him. Plus, he's given up just 14 hits in 32.1 innings while walking 6 and striking out 40. Based on this season performances, he'll likely give Vanderbilt 7 innings of work.

Ok, so we know Beede is very, very good. And there is no relief in sight when facing Miller on Saturday. Although he wasn't a draft pick out of high school, he has been very, very good during his career at Vanderbilt. Like Beede, he has progressed really well his three seasons at Vanderbilt. A reliever his first years at Vandy, he had a 3-0 record and a 3.06 ERA in 32.1 innings as a freshman, then was 2-1 with a 2.31 ERA in 23.1 innings as a sophomore. He was moved to the starting rotation this season and has absolutely thrived, giving up just 2 runs (earned) in 31.1 innings of work, which is a 0.57 ERA. Teams are hitting .140 against him. He'll normally throw anywhere from 6 to 7 innings in his outings.

Ferguson has also been very effective as a weekend starter for Vanderbilt, although just a notch below Beede and Miller. In his five starts he has given up 8 runs (5 earned) in 27.2 innings of work for a 1.63 ERA. He's only given up 14 hits and 8 walks in his 27.2 innings of work. He'll normally throw 5 to 7 innings, but in his last outing, which was against LSU, he only threw 3.2 innings, giving up 2 runs (1 earned) on 1 hit and 2 walks while hitting 1.

Mississippi State is expected to start redshirt sophomore RHP Preston Brown (2-0, 0.75) Friday, redshirt junior LHP Ross Mitchell (3-1, 1.50) Saturday and junior RHP Trevor Fitts (2-0, 3.55) Sunday.

While not the hard thrower that Beede is, nor a former first-round draft pick, Brown has been very effective in his own right, although up until this weekend as a mid-week rotation pitcher. In his three starts he has given up 1 run (unearned) on 11 hits and 9 walks while striking out 18 in 18 innings of work. Teams are only hitting .200 against him. Brown usually throws his fastball in the mid to upper 80s, but it's the movement on his pitches and his excellent change of speed that causes him to be so effective.

After being a middle reliever in all of his outings this season, Mitchell was moved to the Saturday starting spot last weekend against Georgia and had an outstanding performance, allowing 1 run on 4 hits and 4 walks while striking out 5 in a complete-game victory. Although that was his first start this season, he's no stranger to eating up the innings. During three of his other seven outings this season, he has thrown 5 or more innings. In those three appearances he threw 20.1 innings, allowing 3 runs on 14 hits and 5 walks while striking out 12. Overall this season, teams are hitting .202 against him. Mitchell's overall ERA is 1.50 but his home ERA is just 0.61 this season.

Fitts has been very good this season as a weekend starter. Of his five starts, he's been very effective in four of them. His lone poor outing was on the road against UC-Santa Barbara when he gave up 5 runs (all earned) on 5 hits in 2.1 innings of work. In his other four starts he only gave up 6 runs (5 earned) in 23 innings for a 1.96 ERA. He'll normally give MSU a solid 4+ to 6+ innings in his starts.

Relief Pitching - Vanderbilt mainly uses four relief pitchers during weekend games - junior RHP Brian Miller (0-0, 1 save, 0.00 ERA), junior RHP Adam Ravenelle (1-0, 0, 1.80), sophomore RHP Carson Fulmer (0-0, 6, 1.12) and freshman RHP Hayden Stone (1-0, 1, 0.51).

Miller has been used in a very unique role this season. He's a closer but mainly a closer in games that won't earn him a save, games that are either blowouts or has something like 5-1 or 6-2 scores going into the 9th inning. As you can see by his 0.00 ERA, he's been very, very effective in that role, although in an outing this past weekend against LSU he gave up two unearned runs in 1/3 of an inning. But those are the only runs that he's given up this season. He'll throw no more than an inning and Vandy's coaches aren't afraid to use him in two games during a three-game weekend.

Ravenelle is more of a middle reliever. Like Miller, he's been very effective in his role. And like Miller, he gave up 2 runs in his one outing against LSU this past weekend. However, the two runs that he gave up were earned. Those are the only two runs that he's given up this season.

Fulmer is Vanderbilt's other closer. And he's used in games that are close, hence the reason he's earned 6 saves this season. Unlike Miller and Ravenelle, he's more a strikeout pitcher, striking out 23 in 16 innings of work this season. He's not your typical closer who is usually brought in to close out the 9th inning. He'll throw between 1, 2 or 3 innings, whatever is needed.

Stone is a middle reliever who can throw 1 inning or even 5+ innings if necessary. In fact, against LSU last weekend, he came in during the 4th inning and finished the game, limiting LSU to 1 run in 5.1 innings while striking out 10.

Mississippi State's primary relievers for weekend games are sophomore RHP Myles Gentry (0-0, 2, 2.25), junior LHP Jacob Lindgren (2-0, 2, 1.32) and junior RHP Jonathan Holder (1-1, 2, 3.00). I also expect senior RHP Ben Bracewell (2-2, 0, 2.38) to be available to pitch in relief this weekend.

Gentry is a middle reliever who has performed well in that role, especially of late. After allowing 3 earned runs in 5 innings to start off the season, he has appeared in 4 games since then, allowing 0 runs in 7 innings. Teams are hitting .158 against him.

After being a starter most of last season, Lindgren has been moved to the bullpen this season and he's really thrived in his role as a combo late inning reliever/closer. In 8 games this season, he's allowed just 2 earned runs in 13.2 innings. He can give MSU 2 to 3 very effective innings if necessary. He's a hard thrower who throws his fastball in the low 90s and his slider in the mid 80s. In his 13.2 innings of work he has 26 strikeouts.

Holder, who was MSU's closer the past two seasons, continues in that role, although he has help from Lindgren this season. After suffering a blister on his finger during the early part of the season, he's well now and has pitched really well of late. In his last two outings (against Arizona and Georgia), he threw 7 innings, allowing 2 runs. Against Arizona, he threw a career-high 5.2 innings, allowing the 2 runs in his 6th inning of work.

Bracewell has been a combination starter and reliever this season. He's performed well in both (2.66 ERA as a starter and 0.00 as a reliever) but hasn't done as well of late as a starter, giving up 6 runs in 7.1 innings in his last two starts after giving up just 2 runs in 13 innings his first two starts. It's likely he'll be used as a middle reliever who can eat up 3 or 4 innings in a game if one of the starters aren't effective early on.

It's possible that MSU might also used junior Brandon Woodruff (1-2, 7.43 ERA) and freshman Dakota Hudson (1-1, 2.63) during the weekend series. Both have been used as starters this season but aren't in the SEC rotation. Both consistently throw their fastballs in the mid-90s (93-95), topping out at 96 (Woodruff) and 98 (Hudson).

Who's Hot at the Plate and Who's Not in the Last 5 Games - Vanderbilt junior Vince Conde leads Vandy in hitting during the past five games, hitting .556 (10-of-18, 4 RBI). Freshman Bryan Reynolds is hitting .400 (8-of-20, 7 RBI), followed by sophomore Rhett Wiseman who comes in hitting .333 (7-of-21, 4 RBI), and redshirt sophomore Zander Wiel who is also hitting .333 (6-of-18, 2 RBI). Sophomore Dansby Swanson is hitting at a .318 clip (7-of-22, 4 RBI). Sophomore Xavier Turner comes in at .235 (4-of-17, 2 RBI) while junior John Norwood is at .063 (1-of-16, 0 RBI).

In part-time duty, freshman Jason Delay is hitting .429 (3-of-7, 3 RBI), freshman Ro Coleman comes in at .222 (2-of-9, 3 RBI), freshman Karl Ellison is hitting .200 (1-of-5, 0 RBI) while junior Chris Harvey is batting .000 (0-of-5, 0 RBI).

Mississippi State is led at the plate by senior C.T. Bradford who is hitting at a .333 clip (6-of-18, 4 RBI) followed by redshirt junior Wes Rea who comes in at .316 (6-of-19, 2 RBI). Senior Alex Detz is hitting .250 (5-of-20, 3 RBI), senior Brett Pirtle is hitting .222 (4-of-18, 3 RBI), junior Seth Heck is hitting .188 (3-of-16, 1 RBI), redshirt junior Zack Randolph is hitting .154 (2-of-13, 1 RBI), junior Jake Vickerson is hitting .125 (2-of-16, 0 RBI) and senior Derrick Armstrong comes in at .083 (1-of-12, 1 RBI).

In part-time action, junior Matthew Britton is hitting .667 (4-of-6, 3 RBI), senior Demarcus Henderson is hitting .333 (3-of-9, 0 RBI), freshman Gavin Collins is also hitting .333 (1-of-3, 0 RBI), redshirt freshman Cody Brown is hitting .200 (1-of-5, 0 RBI) and redshirt freshman Daniel Garner is hitting .000 (0-for-3).

How Vanderbilt and MSU Match Up
Vanderbilt Category Mississippi State
19-3 Record 15-8
.288 Batting Average .269
129 (5.9 pg) Runs 122 (5.3 pg)
6 Home Runs 5
.382 OB % .380
34-53 Stolen Bases-Attempts 39-50
89 (4.0 pg) Walks 114 (5.0 pg)
126 (5.7 pg) Strikeouts 132 (5.7 pg)
178 (8.1 pg) LOB 192 (8.3 pg)
1.50 Team ERA 2.96
8 Saves 8
58 (2.6 pg) Walks 83 (3.6 pg)
212 (9.6 pg) Strikeouts 199 (8.7 pg)
.169 Batting Average Against .249
.980 Fielding % .986

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the sports network. You can contact him by emailing

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