Texas Baseball vs Kansas: Preview and Game 1 Open Thread

The Longhorn baseball team looks to continue its winning ways this weekend as it welcomes the Kansas Jayhawks to Austin for a three game set. The only big news coming into this one is that apparently Augie will start freshman Dillon Peters on the mound Sunday instead of Ricky Jacquez. Peters got the win in last weekend's finale against Okie State, but he threw only two innings as part of a platoon that came on in relief of Jacquez. Peters' ERA is extremely impressive at 2.35, and the guess here is that Augie is trying to get him a couple of meaningful starts before the postseason so he can have four somewhat experienced starters to choose from. That, or he just thinks Peters is pitching better right now than Jacquez.

In any event, the expectation should be a sweep this weekend.The Jayhawks sit tied for last in the Big 12--though to be fair, the bottom four teams in the league are all tied for last place. So, you know, they're also tied for seventh. Kansas is coming off a 1-2 weekend against Texas A&M in Lawrence in which they managed to salvage the third game after losing the first two. It is our humble opinion, though, that A&M is something of a fraud and that Baylor and Texas will expose them as such in due time (actually that starts this weekend in College Station/Waco). The fact is that KU is not very good and if Texas' strong balance of pitching and hitting persists, the Longhorns should be expected to win all three.

In terms of the league standings, it's important that Texas do just that. The Aggies and Bears play each other this weekend and we see the most likely outcome as a 2-1 Baylor series win. That would place Baylor at 17-1 in conference with six to play and A&M would be at 10-5 with nine to play. If Texas can get the sweep they would take second place alone over the Ags set themselves up to get some serious separation while securing the final Lone Star Showdown for the good guys next week. At 12-3, they would also remain within reasonable striking distance of Baylor; remember, they just need to be within three heading into the last weekend of the season when Texas and Baylor meet up in order to at least have a mathematical shot. Losing even one this weekend would hurt those chances.

The Jayhawks have no hitters batting over .300.They have an everyday starter batting .182. In short, this is not a good hitting team. The Texas pitchers ought to be able to keep the KU run totals down, meaning the Jayhawks should be relying on their pitching to try and steal a game or two from the Longhorns. That's clearly been the story for Kansas all year, as you can see form just the basic stats below: their starters' ERAs, which (among traditional stats) provide the best indication for how well the pitcher himself is doing his job of keeping runs from crossing the plate, are solid (Benjamin's is borderline, but overall they're not bad). But their win-loss records, which reflect far more on how well the team supports the pitcher with runs than on anything the pitcher actually does, are abysmal. basically, these guys are giving kansas a chance to win and the hitters can't make it happen. As such, despite the Jayhawks' awful record, Texas' offense will have to be focused and do some work in order to get that sweep this weekend.

This is your open thread for tonight, and all games are on LHN. Hook 'em!

PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS
Friday, April 20, 2012 - 7 p.m. Central
Texas: RHP Nathan Thornhill (4-2, 3.53 ERA)
Kansas: RHP Frank Duncan (3-5, 3.46 ERA)

Saturday, April 21, 2012 - 7 p.m. Central
Texas: RHP Parker French (4-1, 3.31 ERA)
Kansas: LHP Wes Benjamin (2-4, 4.31 ERA)

Sunday, April 22, 2012 - 1 p.m. Central
Texas: LHP Dillon Peters (3-0, 2.35 ERA)
Kansas: RHP Thomas Taylor (4-4, 3.79 ERA)

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