Friday Morning Coffee Break

No. 13 Vanderbilt and Mississippi State tangle in a three-game Southeastern Conference series this weekend at MSU.

Weather - Friday's temperatures should range from the high 70's at gametime to the high 60's by the end of the game. Expect a 60% of rain during the early part of the game with it tailing off to about 40% later in the game.

Saturday's temps should be in the mid 60's during the game. It will be partly cloudy during the game.

Sunday will see the temps cool off even more with the high in the mid 50's during the game. It will be partly cloudy with a slight chance of rain.

Gametimes - Friday 6:30 p.m. | Saturday 2:00 p.m. | Sunday 1:30 p.m.

5-Year Series History - Vanderbilt holds a 6-4 advantage during the five years that Tim Corbin has been coaching at Vanderbilt.

Coaches - Tim Corbin is in his 6th season as the head man at Vanderbilt and has a five-year record of 198-108, including an SEC record of 81-67. Three of his five teams have appeared in NCAA Regional play, with one advancing to a Super Regional. None of his five teams have appeared in the College World Series. His overall NCAA Regional record during those five years is 6-6.

During that same five-year period, MSU head coach Ron Polk's teams are 194-109 overall and 70-75 in SEC play. All five teams have appeared in an NCAA regional, with one going on to play in a Super Regional and the College World Series. Their overall NCAA postseason record is 12-10.

Vanderbilt Road/Mississippi State Home Records - Vanderbilt is 2-5 away and MSU is 11-10 at home.

Expected Pitching Rotations - Mississippi State's starting pitchers will be redshirt junior RHP Chad Crosswhite (2-2, 10.65 ERA) Friday night, redshirt sophomore RHP Ricky Bowen (2-3, 6.64 ERA) Saturday and senior RHP John Lalor (1-2, 3.63 ERA) Sunday.

Vanderbilt will counter with sophomore LHP Mike Minor (3-2, 3.18 ERA) on Friday, freshman RHP Caleb Cotham (4-2, 3.82 ERA) on Saturday and either freshman RHP Taylor Hill (3-2, 5.54 ERA) or junior RHP Brett Jacobson (1-3, 7.92 ERA) on Sunday.

Crosswhite, who has been injured off and on this season, has only started one SEC game this year, giving up 4 runs (all earned) on 7 hits and 3 walks while striking out 4 in 5.1 innings of work.

Bowen, who will be making his first Saturday start after being MSU's Sunday starter, has started 4 games in the SEC, allowing 17 runs (13 earned) on 25 hits and 9 walks with 20 strikeouts in 25.2 innings. His ERA is 4.56. But what is interesting about Bowen is the huge contrast between road and home SEC starts. In his two home outings, he has given up 3 runs (1 earned) on 7 hits and 5 walks while striking out 15 in 16.1 innings. His ERA is 0.56. His ERA on the road is 11.58. This weekend's series is at home.

This will be Lalor's first start of the year. His longest outing so far this season was against South Alabama when he threw 4.0 innings. He gave up 0 runs on 2 hits and 1 walk with 6 strikeouts.

Minor, the ace of the staff, has started four SEC games and has allowed 16 runs (13 earned) on 28 hits and 6 walks while striking out 32 in 29.1 innings for a 3.99 SEC ERA. Of his four starts, his last two have been his worst (Arkansas, Ole Miss). He's given up 12 runs (10 earned) on 14 hits and 4 walks with 10 Ks in 11.2 innings for an ERA of 7.71. The other trend with him is you either get to him early or he will shut you down for most of the game to the tune of 1 to 3 runs.

Cotham has started three SEC games, allowing 13 runs (10 earned) on 19 hits and 5 walks for an ERA of 5.51. But like Minor, his last two outings have been his worse ones. Against Ole Miss and Alabama (he relieved against Arkansas) he gave up 11 runs (9 earned) on 14 hits and 3 walks with 9 Ks in 10.2 innings for an ERA of 7.59. In those two outings, he has given up 7 of his 11 runs in the first 3 innings, so you should know fairly early if he hasn't got his stuff. In those two games, he's pitched in 12 innings, giving up at least 1 run in 8 of those innings.

In his two SEC starts, Hill has thrown 5.0 innings, giving up 7 runs (all earned) on 6 hits and 2 walks and 5 Ks for an ERA of 12.6. In Jacobson's one SEC start, which was against Ole Miss last weekend in Oxford, he gave up 6 runs (all earned) on 7 hits and 2 walks in 3.1 innings. His one-game ERA is a very high 17.42. A 12.60 ERA or a 17.42 ERA; it's going to be a tough decision for Corbin.

Relief Pitching - It all starts with hard-throwing closer Aaron Weatherford, a junior RHP, in MSU's bullpen. Out for over a month with tendinitis, Aaron is back and stronger than ever. A couple of youngsters will help him - true freshmen Busby, a RHP, and Forrest Moore, a LHP. MSU may also use senior LHP Jesse Carver.

Although he's only thrown once in SEC play, Aaron, in 6 outings, has throw 11 innings, allowing 1 hit and walking 5 while striking out 21. Teams are hitting .030 against him. Look for him to pitch an inning Friday and Sunday if needed.

Busby and Moore are normally going to be used in long relief. Both have had control problems. In three outings, Busby has allowed 4 runs (3 earned) on 9 hits and 8 walks while striking out 10 in 12.00 innings. His SEC ERA is 2.25. Moore, also in three outings, has given up 4 runs (all earned) on 6 hits and 8 walks and 7 Ks in 8.2 innings. His SEC ERA is 4.15. Busby is more a hard-thrower, while Moore uses a MLB plus curveball to get his outs.

Carver, in 3 outings, has given up 9 (earned) runs on 17 hits and 3 walks in 9.1 innings for an SEC ERA of 8.68.

Look for Vandy to primarily use four relievers - redshirt freshman RHP Russell Brewer, freshman RHP Chase Reid and sophomore RHP Drew Hayes and either Hill or Jacobson, depending on who winds up starting Sunday.

The top reliever is Brewer who has appeared in 4 SEC games, allowing 4 runs (1 earned) on 16 hits and 4 walks while striking out 11 in 12.0 innings. His SEC ERA is 0.75. He's usually used for long relief in SEC games.

Although Vandy doesn't really seem to have a closer, per se, Reid is the closest thing to it. In 5 SEC outings, he's thrown 5.2 innings, allowing 3 runs (all earned) on 7 hits and 3 walks with 6 Ks. His SEC ERA is 4.76. To give him credit all the runs were scored on him in one outing, against Ole Miss last weekend.

Hayes, in 3 SEC appearances, has given up 0 runs on 2 hits and 4 walks while striking out 4 in 4.2 innings. He hasn't appeared in an SEC game since March 23, so there's a chance he won't appear this weekend.

Who's Hot at the Plate and Who's Not in the Last 5 Games - MSU has four players who are hot - sophomore Connor Powers, junior Tyler Moore, freshman Ryan Collins and redshirt sophomore Ryan Duffy.

Powers is sizzling right now, batting .636 (14-of-22, 4 HR, 10 RBI), followed by Moore with a .500 batting average (9-of-18, 2 HR, 6 RBI). Collins is hitting .400 (8-of-20, 1 HR, 4 RBI) while Duffy comes in at .333 (5-of-15, 2 HR, 4 RBI).

Hitting ok are redshirt freshman Jason Nappi and redshirt sophomore Russ Sneed. Nappi is hitting .294 (5-of-17, 1 HR, 4 RBI) and Sneed is hitting .278 (5-of-18, 3 RBI).

Not doing so well are junior Grant Hogue and sophomore Jet Butler. Hogue is hitting .190 (4-of-21, 1 RBI) and Butler is batting .105 (2-of-19, 1 RBI).

Vanderbilt, on the other hand, has five guys hitting the ball well.

Leading the way is senior Dominic de la Osa who is hitting .435 (10-of-23, 1 HR, 3 RBI), Not far behind is senior David Macias at .429 (9-of-21, 1 HR, 3 RBI). Redshirt freshman Steven Liddle is hitting .364 (4-of-11, 2 RBI). Sophomore Brian Harris comes in at .313 (5-of-16, 1 RBI). Also batting in the .300 range is junior Ryan Flaherty who is batting an even .300 (6-of-20, 2 HR, 3 RBI).

Junior Pedro Alvarez, possibly the first player to be drafted in the June MLB draft this coming summer, is coming off an injury. He is batting .263 (5-of-19, 2 HR, 5 RBI). Following him is senior Brad French at .231 (3-of-13, 1 RBI).

Two other Commodores are slumping. Senior Parker Hanks is hitting .133 (2-of-15) and sophomore Andrew Giobbi is hitting .111 (1-of-9, 2 RBI).

Misc - Like Mississippi State, who is missing their top hitter from last year, Brandon Turner (hamstring pull), Vanderbilt also is shorthanded due to the loss of their top hitter this season, Alex Feinberg, who was hit in the face last weekend by Ole Miss' Lance Lynn. He suffered a broken jaw that required surgery.

How Vanderbilt and MSU Match Up
Vanderbilt Category Mississippi State
21-10 Record 14-18
.303 (6th in SEC) Batting Average .302 (7th in SEC)
212 (6.8 pg) Runs 223 (7.0 pg)
27 Home Runs 35
.395 OB% % .394
38/50 Stolen Bases/Attempts 33/43
140 (4.5 pg) Walks 156 (4.9 pg)
212 (6.8 pg) Strikeouts 244 (7.6 pg)
283 (9.1 pg) LOB 264 (8.3 pg)
4.48 (10th in SEC) Team ERA 6.14 (12th in SEC)
6 Saves 4
115 (3.7 pg) Walks 154 (4.8 pg)
297 (9.6 pg) Strikeouts 263 (8.2 pg)
.270 Batting Average Against .293
.968 (8th in SEC) Fielding % .972 (4th in SEC)
38 Errors 34

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

Gene's Page Top Stories