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  • Kentucky Baseball: The Week Ahead (May 15-21)

    Well, we did what we had to do this weekend and won 1 of the 3 games on the road against a top 25 SEC opponent, improving our record to 35-15 (SEC 15-12). That's sort of the litmus test for being a good quality team, and we rebounded from two consecutive losses to absolutely smash Tennessee Sunday, 10-0. As a result, our short wobble back from #1 RPI to #2 RPI wobbled back and we begin the week again as college baseball's #1 RPI team. Strangely, our strength of schedule dropped from #1 to #2, but both, of course, are outstanding. Florida State, ACC 7-20 and with an overall record of 20-30, has the #1 RPI. So unless something miraculous happens and Florida State wins the ACC tournament's automatic bid, we have the highest strength of schedule that will make the NCAA Tournament.

    As a side note, our normally excellent cross-state rivals, Louisville has struggled in conference play, with an ACC record of 9-18. They are baseball #34 RPI, and with a 29-22 record, are in extreme danger of missing the NCAA Tournament in the first time in forever.

    As we head into the last week of the regular-season, the SEC tournament awaits next week. It does not appear that we are going to secure one of the first day byes, so we will be in a one and done situation most likely. Currently the four byes would be:

    1. SEC East division winner Ė either Florida or Vanderbilt, both with 17-9 records.
    2. SEC West division winner Ė probably Arkansas, with the overall best record in the conference at 19-8.
    3. & 4. Ė The two next best records, either Florida or Vanderbilt (17-9), and LSU (17-9).

    Now, I said it does not appear that we are going to secure one of the first day byes. In looking at the records, if Kentucky could sweep Florida we would pass them and finish with a record of 18-12, and they would finish with a record of 17-12. Teams with a mathematical chance appear to be limited to South Carolina (15-11) and Kentucky (15-12). So of course, we will be rooting for Kentucky to earn its second consecutive homes sweep over a top 5 national opponent. That's a tall order, and appears doubtful but who knows?

    As Mickintheham pointed out the other day, traditionally 14 conference wins has been a key to being invited to the NCAA Tournament. I have seen projections that have suggested the SEC may break the all-time record for most teams in the NCAA tournament this year, and when you look at the teams with the number of conference wins they have, and think about that 14 conference wins, you can see why*:

    1. Arkansas 19
    2. Florida 17
    3. Vanderbilt 17
    4. LSU 17
    5. South Carolina 15
    6. Kentucky 15
    7. Tennessee 14
    8. Auburn 14
    9. Alabama 13
    10. Texas A&M 12

    So we already have 8 teams with the magic number, an additional team with just one additional when needed, and one with two wins remaining. Texas A&M plays Mississippi State (8-19), while Alabama faces Ole Miss (6-21). I wonder if Alabama will be excluded from the NCAA even if they finish strong this week and next. The committee may justify with any number of their criteria, but their gambling probe may cast a cloud that keeps them from postseason play after Hoover.

    I was disappointed with the national rankings this week, and it tells me we probably need to take 2 of 3 from Florida this week/weekend to host.

    D1Baseball - # 19 (dropped from # 17 last week)
    Collegiate Baseball - # 28 (dropped from # 21)
    Baseball America - # 20 (dropped from # 19)
    Coaches Poll -- # 20 (dropped from # 16).

    Of course, to host, you need to be one of the top 16 seeds. Now, it doesn't correlate exactly to the Polls, but I'd surely feel more comfortable if we were in it than not next week.


    * EDIT - I actually cannot see why. I think the SEC has, a couple of times, placed 10 teams in the NCAA tournament. If I'm looking for team number 11, I guess you would have to look at Missouri with an overall record of 30-20, but with a conference record of 10-17. If they did something silly like swept Auburn at Auburn, they would have a good overall record of 33-20, and a conference record of 13-17, with the SEC tournament yet to be played. They also have a baseball RPI of #38, which would be improved if they swept Auburn (RPI #20).
    Comments 7 Comments
    1. Darrell KSR's Avatar
      Darrell KSR -
      FWIW, the 11th team from the SEC in contention is Georgia, not Missouri. My mistake.

      Georgia's resume: 28-24 (10-17 SEC), 12 Q1 wins (12-17), # 36 RPI.

      Last projection had them in, but I don't see it. Then again, I'm usually wrong in these things...
    1. Darrell KSR's Avatar
      Darrell KSR -
      Just a heads up--

      Kentucky will start Travis Smith for the 3rd consecutive week for Game 1, but we're mixing things up.

      We're moving Zack Lee, our normal Sunday starter, to the Game 2 slot. That's a 2-day move, because this week we are playing Thurs-Fri-Sat to allow an extra day of rest, as all SEC schools do, before next week's SEC Tournament. so Lee pitched Sunday, and he'll be pitching again Friday, the 5th day instead of a full week as normal. But if you remember, he only pitched 2 innings (31 pitches), so that was more or less like a workout on the sidelines kind of day (more or less, I said). Darren Williams is the guy who mostly pitched starter pitches Sunday, throwing 105 pitches in 4 innings of relief.

      It might also move him up so that he could pitch early in the SEC Tournament. Unless we sweep Florida, we'll be playing Tuesday and Wednesday (if we win Tuesday). He might be available as early as Wednesday staying on that schedule.

      Tyler Bosma is not listed right now as one of the pitchers this weekend. We have a TBD for Game 3. I wonder if we might see Darren Williams take the mound for that game.
    1. Darrell KSR's Avatar
      Darrell KSR -
      Thursday, May 18
      #2 Florida at #19 Kentucky – 6:30 p.m. [SECN+]

      Friday, May 19
      #2 Florida at #19 Kentucky – 6:30 p.m. [SECN+]

      Saturday, May 20
      #2 Florida at #19 Kentucky – 2 p.m. [SECN+]

      Rankings reflect highest among the major polls.
    1. dan_bgblue's Avatar
      dan_bgblue -
      Tyler Bosma is not listed right now as one of the pitchers this weekend. We have a TBD for Game 3. I wonder if we might see Darren Williams take the mound for that game.
      Been waiting to see the staff use their entire bevy of arms normally reserved for the pen 1 pitcher per inning.
    1. Darrell KSR's Avatar
      Darrell KSR -
      Quote Originally Posted by dan_bgblue View Post
      Been waiting to see the staff use their entire bevy of arms normally reserved for the pen 1 pitcher per inning.
      Do you remember the SEC Coach a few years ago that did that regularly? And Nick tried it too?

      It worked for the other coach. Mingione tried it in the SEC tournament, and IIRC, we had a starter that was throwing darts and dips and was brilliant through 6 batters. Pulled him and we got shellacked.
    1. dan_bgblue's Avatar
      dan_bgblue -
      I do not remember that but I remember a team doing it to UK during a match up this year. He sometimes only let the relief pitcher throw to 1 batter then replaced him. I think he ran out of pitchers and wound up using the center fielder who was a pitcher in HS to finish the game. IIRC the other team lost the game, but it sure messed with the Cats batting for a while until they kinda got used to it in about the 7th inning or so.
    1. Darrell KSR's Avatar
      Darrell KSR -
      Baseball America projection has Kentucky a Regional host, # 11 seed overall.

      College Sports Madness projects Kentucky as a host, # 9 pushing for a National Seed. They have Louisville one of the last four in, and in the Lexington Regional.

      Not just because they are an evil institution, but I am rooting against them because nothing good can come from a rival playing in your Regional.

      D1baseball.com has Kentucky hosting as a #10 seed.

      Louisville isn't listed in their projections. I usually trust D1 baseball more than any.

      Still, I'll be peeking at Louisville this weekend as well as watching Kentucky. I will multi-task.