Kansas hosts #20 Oklahoma State this weekend. The Cowboys bring a powerful offensive club to Lawrence complimented by two starting pitchers in multiple preseason All-American watch lists. Oklahoma State is stumbling of late. They have lost four of their last six games and are tied with Kansas at 7th in the Big-12 with a 4-5 record. Despite these problems no one should take the Cowboys lightly at all. OSU is ranked #17 in the RPI today, and #20 by Baseball America. Last year OSU went 44-18, finished second in the Big-12 and swept Kansas. This is going to be the fourth consecutive weekend the Jayhawks face one of the best teams in the nation.
Friday 6PM: Shaeffer Hall (2-2, 2.82 ERA) vs. Andrew Oliver (4-3, 5.91 ERA)
Saturday 2PM: T. J. Walz (2-0, 3.00) vs. Tyler Lyons (4-3, 3.89)
Sunday 1PM: Lee Ridenhour (3-2, 3.55) vs. Tyler Blandford (6-0, 3.42)
Friday and Sundays game will be broadcast live on KLWM (AM 1320). Fridays game will also be shown on tape-delay by KU television channel, KUJH (Sunflower 31). KUJH will broadcast the game Friday night at 10PM and again Saturday morning at 10AM. It doesn’t look like there is any media for Saturday’s game. Of course, the best way to catch these games is to make your way down to Hoglund Park. Friday is free T-shirt day. The first 500 fans will get a free KU Baseball shirt. The weather does not look bad this weekend. Friday is starting out dirty but this evening has a prediction of calm skies. It will be cold, probably around 40 degrees so bundle up. Saturday will be glorious, 60ish and partly sunny. Sunday will be a bit cooler. It looks like the rain predicted for Sunday will fall late so should not interfere with the baseball.
Quick Scouting Report on OSU after the jump
The Friday and Saturday starters for OSU are both very hot prospects. Andrew Oliver was busy fighting for his NCAA eligibility in the courtroom much of this off season and that might be part of the reason he is off to a disappointing start. Oliver has a very high ERA (5.91) but his peripheral stats look great. In 45.2 innings he has given up 48 hits and has an 18/53 BB/K ratio. It looks like his problem may be the amount of extra base hits he has allowed. Opponents have hit 13 doubles and 5 homeruns in his eight starts. Last year Oliver went 7-2 with a 2.20 ERA. Outside of hits allowed his peripherals have remained pretty much the same as where they were last year so his ERA is deceivingly high. Tyler Lyon is the Saturday starter. In 41.2 innings Lyon has given up 45 hits and has a 10/29 BB/K. His ERA is 3.89. Last year Lyon was shockingly good. He went 12-2 with a 3.31 ERA and had a 19/92 BB/K ratio in 108.2 innings. OSU’s Sunday starter, Tyler Blandford, actual has the most impressive 2009 numbers so far, 6-0 with a 3.42 ERA. Blandford’s stat line is crazy. In 47.1 innings he has only given up 25 hits and has struck out 58! However, he has also walked 25 batters, uncorked 8 wild pitches, hit 5 batters and about a third of his hits allowed are for extra bases. Who knows what to expect from him Sunday.
The OSU bullpen is not bad at all. They have a good closer (Randy McCurry) and several decent middle men. How will KU score on this team? Well, if this OSU team is like previous OSU teams they will have a poor defense. Oklahoma State came to Lawrence two years ago with an infield so immobile that you could have filmed their pre-game ground ball practice session and sold it as a zombie movie. Most of those players have moved on so the 2009 Cowboys might be more competent with the glove. I guess we will see.
OSU hits often and with great force. Their team batting line is .313/.404/.527. That blows KU’s attack out of the water. The Cowboys score 8.1 runs per game, which actually seems low to me considering their plate numbers. Rather than list the individual Cowboy sluggers I’ll just direct you to their stat page here. It will not be pleasant reading for KU fans.
Kansas is playing above their paper talent level, while Oklahoma State is doing the opposite. These games will be at Hoglund were the Hawks do not mess around. KU has a 15-2 home record. Oliver and Lyons still seem to be working through early season problems. Hopefully they will remain a bit off their game this weekend. Kansas has a reasonable shot to take this powerhouse team down. Get down to Hoglund and cheer on the team. I guarantee you will see several guys on the field today who will be in major league parks before 2012.