If the #1 and #3 rankings doesn't get your attention... if the 10-2 marks in the toughest conference doesn't get your attention... if the 2 near perfect pitching staffs doesn't get YOUR ATTENTION.... then maybe, JUST MAYBE the combined 19 game winning streak these 2 teams have coming into this week does.
To say these 2 teams are not the best in the nation might be allowed to slide for this moment in time... but NO questioning, they are the 2 hottest teams in America (and in the midst of this ridiculous SEC East season too).
More after THE JUMP...
Im sorry to say, but if you need any more reason to tune in, or even attend these games than what I wrote up above... nothing will get your attention; but I can try anyways.
Sonny Gray and Michael Roth headline this showdown of SEC East Beasts.
The offenses are good enough to win these two teams every game they play in... but somehow they are not the story most outlets will cover for this series; the pitching staff is. South Carolina is #1 (thanks to Gamecock'n'Balls for posting these stats) in the SEC in every meaningful pitching statistic (ERA, OBA, Hits Allowed, Runs Allowed) and Vanderbilt is 2nd in two of those (OBA, Hits Allowed) and 3rd in the other two (behind only the outstanding staff of UF). The two teams Friday night Aces (Roth and Gray) have combined for 1.4 ERA, 14-2 record, 2 complete games, 110 1/3 Innings, 76 hits, 25 runs (17 earned), 120 strikeout to just 37 walks, only given up 1 HR(!), only 10 wild pitches, 8 hit batsmen, and 0 balks, AND OH YEA a .193 opposing batting average. I most certainly would love to see someone try to come up with a better match-up than that. If this wasnt enough, the Saturday starters are Colby Holmes for USC and Grayson Garvin for Vandy; Holmes carries in with him a 3-0 mark with a 3.00 ERA in 30 Innings of work, while Garvin has a 6-1 record and a 2.04 ERA in 53 Innings of work. Even the Sunday starters are good enough to be at least saturday night guys on just about any other team in the nation, with Koumas carrying a 4-0 record and a 1.91 ERA in 33 Innings and for Vandy Taylor Hill with a 2-0 mark and a 3.19 ERA in 42 1/3 Innings... I dont know about you, but my money is on a LOW scoring weekend (and go on and store away your brooms, neither team is leaving this weekend with their winning streak in tact).
As far as the offenses go, each team has their stars. Carolina is spearheaded by 3 brutes at the plate in Scott Wingo (.320/.464/.459, 22 runs, 13 RBI, 3 HRs), Christian Walker, and Adrian Morales (.333/.509/.448, 25 runs, 21 RBI, 3 HRs) with a bunch of guys up and down the lineup that can and often times, does come up big when needed. Walker leads the Gamecocks in just about every relevant statistical category, with a .352 average, 32 runs scored, 37 RBI, .631 slugging%, 7 HRs (all team highs) as well as a solid .420ob%. Shocking thing is, All American Jackie Bradley Jr can't even crack the top 3 in this lineup. Vanderbilt's lineup is also headed by a couple brutes, in Aaron Westlake (.398/.634/.507, 29 runs, 25 RBI and 5 HRs) and Anthony Gomez (.383/.433/.382, 33 runs, 27 RBI).
Overall I would say that those 2 aspects are as close to a draw as you can get, with maybe the hitting going slightly in favor of Carolina and pitching possibly ever so slightly in favor of Vandy (only because the last 2 weekends SC has played fairly weak opponents, if that exists in the SEC). The one area I think a team holds a commanding edge in, is the back end of the bullpen as well as closers, which goes in favor of the Gamecocks. John Taylor has turned into one of the best (if not the best) setup guy to get the best closer in the nation on the mound with a Save opportunity, obviously being Matt Price.
I will hold my predictions off for now until the weekend gets closer and then will post them in the comments section.