Times and Expected Starters
Thursday, 7:00 PM: A.J. Reed (9-2, 2.30 ERA) vs Ryan Lawlor (4-5, 3.98)
Friday, 7:00 PM: Dylan Dwyer (5-3, 5.24) vs David Sosebee (1-3, 2.85)
Saturday, 1:00 PM: Johnny Wholestaff vs Robert Tyler (5-4, 2.57)
I'm making an educated guess on the Friday and Saturday matchups. The Georgia website lists Sosebee and Tyler in that order, despite the fact that Tyler is the usual Saturday (in this case Friday) starter and Sosebee has made some Sunday (in this case Saturday) starts recently. As of this writing (Wednesday night) Kentucky hasn't announced any starters, but A.J. Reed is a lock for Thursday and I assume Dylan Dwyer is the same for Friday. Saturday is the big question mark with Chandler Shepherd used for 3.1 innings on Tuesday. We could see Shepherd come back on 3 days rest, or Gary Henderson might use the bullpen for the final game. Or someone gets a spot start. I have no idea at this point.
||Last 10||Runs/G||R. Allowed/G||SEC R/G||SEC RA/G|
|RPI||Warren Nolan||Ken Massey||Boyd's World|
Georgia has been the opposite of Kentucky this year: the Bulldogs have pitched and played defense pretty well, but struggled to score runs. They are 12-7 in games decided by 1 or 2 runs but just 8-11 when the margin is 5 or more. Kentucky meanwhile is 7-8 in close games and 19-9 in slug-fests.
Clearly Kentucky is the superior team, and it shouldn't take many runs to win each game. The mark to hit is "4" as UGA is 19-6 when they hold their opponent to 3 runs or less and 6-20 when allowing 4 or more. That's less than what the Wildcats are averaging in conference play, but will still prove a difficult target to hit. To wit – Georgia is coming off a series against Mississippi in which they only allowed 14 total runs. By comparison, Kentucky gave up 39 runs when they were swept by the Rebels. Georgia lost that series 2-1, but they are clearly capable of shutting down powerful offenses and Ole Miss has basically been the Cat's equal in conference games when it comes to scoring.
This is also a chance for the beleaguered pitching staff to go into the postseason with some confidence and momentum. A.J. Reed has been a rock all year long, but the Saturday and Sunday starters have been a mess ever since Chandler Shepherd went out with an arm laceration at the beginning of April. Shepherd returned to the rotation last weekend against Auburn but only lasted 2+ innings. He was much better Tuesday night against Murray St, but that outing might keep him in the bullpen this weekend. Dylan Dwyer has had a rough go of it after some initial success as a weekend starter, giving up 16 runs in his last 13 innings (3 games). This Georgia offense could be exactly what they need to get on track though.
What's at stake
Kentucky is fighting for seeding in the SEC Tournament. They are currently the 10th seed, but could move up as high as 6th if they sweep and get some help. It's unlikely they'll move up that high, but 3 of the teams ahead of them (Alabama, Arkansas, and Texas A&M) all face tough competition and LSU is on the road, so youneverknow. The Cats are still in good position to make the College World Series, even with the loss to Murray St, thanks to an outstanding Strength of Schedule and RPI. Baseball America has them in as long as they avoid getting swept.
Georgia is also fighting to make the SEC Tournament and keep their very slight hopes alive for the CWS. They are currently the last team in, a half game up on Auburn and a half game back of Tennessee. Despite a poor season the Bulldogs still have a lot to play for, and that makes them dangerous.
I think the Cats take this 2 games to 1. Despite Georgia's outstanding pitching, I think the Wildcat offense is good enough to score 4+ runs a couple of times and that will be sufficient with all the trouble Georgia has had scoring. That will put UK at 14-16 in the conference and I think that will be good enough for the 8th or 9th seed in the SEC Tournament.
If nothing else, you should take advantage of the diminishing opportunity to watch A.J. Reed and Austin Cousino bat in a Wildcat uniform - next year both of those guys will be in pro ball. Go Cats!