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Tennessee Baseball’s Pitching Plan Uncertain Entering LSU Series

Photo By Ian Cox/Tennessee Athletics

Tennessee baseball has won three straight SEC series and has done it with starting pitching inconsistencies. Opening Day starting pitcher AJ Russell remains sidelined with a forearm soreness and that’s made the Vols’ weekend pitching staff uncertain.

The Vols’ projected starters for the weekend series are Drew Beam on Saturday and Zander Sechrist on Sunday with the series opener starter TBD.

The biggest issue the last two weeks has been the struggles of right-handed pitcher AJ Causey. The Jacksonville State transfer has started on Friday night for Tennessee in all four SEC series and after two strong starts to open conference play, things have gone sideways for Causey the last two weeks.

Causey allowed seven hits, two walks and seven earned runs in 2.2 innings of action two weeks ago against Georgia before allowing eight hits and eight earned runs in 1.1 innings last week at Auburn. Those struggles have added an uncertainty to Tennessee’s pitching plan for the LSU series.

“We haven’t talked about that point in general, but we have had some guys come back and be available to us, and so we’ll strategize as best we can who belongs on what day and what we want to do,” Vitello said. “But, we’ve got a pretty good idea about the guys who log innings or throw a certain amount of pitches for us.”

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Whether or not Causey starts on Friday night against the Tigers, he will likely pitch a number of innings in that game either as the starter or out of the bullpen. The submarine pitcher was impressive in his first two starts, allowing four earned runs in 12.1 innings.

Junior right-handed pitcher Drew Beam has been Tennessee’s Saturday starter on Saturday starter all season where he’s posted a 4-1 record, 3.63 ERA and 1.21 WHIP.

Senior left-handed pitcher Zander Sechrist has been the Vols’ Sunday opener before passing the baton to RHP Nate Snead (6-1, 3.29 ERA, 1.28 WHIP) for a large chunk of middle innings. Other highly used bullpen arms for Tennessee this season include Kirby Connell, Aaron Combs and Chris Stamos.

First pitch for the weekend series between Tennessee and LSU is at 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday night at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. ESPNU is broadcasting the game.

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