Wednesday, February 24, 2010

5 P Primer: Missouri

An old coach used to always hammer the 5 "Ps": Prior planning prevents poor performance. Not just a fancy slogan that gets a High School football coach/Driver's Ed instructor through the day; it's also a good way to know what to expect from upcoming Auburn opponents. Here's your 5 "Ps" for Auburn's Saturday opponent: Missouri.


PRESENTING- The Missouri Tigers, coached by Tim Jamieson (16th Season/515-356-2) will have the youngest team in his 16 year tenure. The Big XII Tigers are riding an impressive streak of 7 straight trips to the NCAA Regionals. Mizzou fans will probably be checking their programs frequently this season as the Tigers only return 1 starting pitcher, 1 OF, and 1 IF from their 2009 team that went 35-27 and made it to the Oxford Regional. To call this a rebuilding year would be an understatement. Filling in key losses is something the Black and Gold know they have to deal with:

“We’ve got a young, inexperienced team, but I think we’ve got a lot of talent,” said [1B/OF Aaron] Senne, who opted to return for his senior season after getting drafted by the Minnesota Twins. “Not too worried. We’ll go out there and turn some heads. Nobody’s expecting anything from us, so we’ve got nothing to lose.”

Nonetheless, the media and coaches don’t seem to have a lot of faith in the Mizzou, picking them to finish 8th (out of 1o) Big XII teams. Yes, there are 10 teams in the Big XII baseball wise. Iowa State and Colorado don’t field teams.



PREVIOUSLY- Mizzou dropped its first opener since 2006, losing 10-6 to Gonzaga after a bullpen implosion in the 8th. The Tigers responded by trouncing Washington 17-6, and squeaking past New Mexico State 2-1 in extra innings. Similar to Auburn’s opening series, Mizzou manage to rebound a surprising opening loss to win it’s opening series (something neither team did a year before).

PLAYMAKERS- The heart and soul of Mizzou is OF Aaron Senne. Senne (above) turned down a contract from the Minnesota Twins to return for his senior season. Last year, the 6’2 lefty was an all Big XII honorable mention and an all regional player while hitting .305 with 6 HRs. Senne has a slumping start last weekend (.214 avg, 1 HR, 5k). Senne knows he will play a key role in Mizzou’s success this year, despite the new faces:

"I need to go out and contribute, but I have enough guys around that can do it as well. Nobody really knows about them, because they haven't played on the team. They definitely have the talent to swing it. I think we will be fine in that sense. They will pick me up and I will pick them up when they are down.

The de facto ace of the staff is RHP Nick Tepesch. Last year the 6’5 Junior from Blue Springs, MO went 6-5 with a 6.27 ERA. He led the team in some dubious categories: Balls, Hits Allowed, Runs Allowed, and Earned Runs allowed. Last Weekend against Washington, Tepesch went 5 innings and gave up 6 runs (on 8 hits) while walking 2 and striking out 1 batter.



PREVIEW- Mizzou is tough team to peg down. Jamieson is known for using his bullpen at will and random (last year he sent out at least 8 pitchers numerous times in 1 inning during conference play). Auburn will likely face Tepesch on Saturday. Most teams usually slot their Ace on Fridays, but last weekend Tim Jamieson kind of put a wrench into things by saying Tepesch would be the Saturday starter because, well:

… not for any particular reason other than that what seems to be the best for everybody. I really truly believe it's open, it's not necessarily clinched by Nick, but he certainly has pitched the best up to this point."

Bottom line this is a very young Mizzou team and the pitching leaves a ton to be desired. The biggest factor for Auburn in this game is to chase whoever Mizzou sends out on the mound early. The biggest weakness for the Columbia Tigers is their bullpen.



PREDICTION-

On paper Auburn should be the better team, so I’ll say 80/20 in favor of Auburn at this point.

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