1. Nick Fortes at first base- This will now be Fortes’ fifth game at first base. His transition to this position has seemingly helped Ole Miss find a lineup that meshes offensively, and makes the Rebels better behind the plate defensively. I wrote a story yesterday on Fortes adjusting to his new home, and it is something to monitor tonight.
2. Dallas Woolfolk - The junior closer wasn’t available for Sunday’s game due to a tender shoulder. Woolfolk was also hit pretty hard in the ninth inning of Saturday’s win over Missouri. He gave up a towering home run, and a double that nearly left the yard. Woolfolk’s been taxed heavily this season. He’s logged 28.2 innings, which is the most of any reliever not named Will Ethridge, who has 43 innings of work. Keep in mind Ethridge has four starts on the year. 28.2 is a lot of innings for a closer, even if Woolfolk isn’t used like a traditional one.
His velocity is consistent, but Missouri saw his fastball well, which could hint that his stuff may have flattened a little. Bianco said at practice on Monday that Woolfolk will be ready to go if needed. If he does enter the game tonight, it’ll be interesting to see how he fairs.
3. Mississippi State bullpen - What this team has been able to do despite the injuries it has had on the mound is just remarkable. Andy Cannizaro has managed what has a times been a four-man bullpen this year. Riley Self, Spencer Price and Jacob Barton have held it together well in a short-handed pen. If it’s a close game tonight, there will likely be an interesting chess match between two good bullpens that differ in depth and style.
4. Brent Rooker- He torched Ole Miss in Oxford a few weeks back, and has feasted on just about everyone's pitching in the SEC. Rooker’s as good as advertised and anchors a potent top-half of the Mississippi State lineup. He finds different ways to impact games each time out, and is good enough to almost single-handedly beat a team if given enough pitches over the plate. The Rebels will need to exercise caution each time he digs into the box. Rooker’s one of the best, if not the best hitter in this conference
5. Greer Holston - Pine Bluff knocked Holston around a decent bit in his last outing, and popped four runs on six hits in the five innings the freshman righty lasted. He surrendered an early home run and three early walks got him in a pinch. Holston will need to be much sharper this week, especially the first time through the lineup. The top half of the Bulldog order packs the most punch, and it’s where they jump on teams early. Holston can’t afford a sluggish start or a command lapse, because Mississippi State will put him in a hole from the start.
First pitch is at 6:30 p.M. The game can be seen on SEC Network.