HOOVER, Ala.—For the second straight year, I co-hosted the SEC's "BP Show" on the field with Eric SanInocencio while teams took batting practice today. We had coaches and players appear on the show as guests, and I picked up a few pitching tid-bits to pass along:
• Top-seeded South Carolina surprised everyone by announcing that ace Michael Roth will start Wednesday's opener against Auburn, which will counter with Jon Luke Jacobs. Roth, the usual Friday starter, went Thursday last week and convinced Tanner to move him up another day for the start of the conference tournament. Keep in mind: The No. 8 seed has beaten the No. 1 seed on the first day five years in a row at the SEC tournament.
• The other beasts of the SEC East are taking a more conservative approach, starting pitchers Wednesday who are not in their weekend rotations. Vanderbilt will go with freshman T.J. Pecoraro, while Florida will start junior righty Tommy Toledo, with Nick Maronde also likely to see significant innings. Gators coach Kevin O'Sullivan said Toledo has reached 95 mph in each of his last two starts. Florida will throw Brian Johnson on Thursday, with Hudson Randall and Karsten Whitson scheduled to follow if the Gators play that long. Also keep an eye on righthander Greg Larson in the Florida bullpen; O'Sullivan said he's been throwing very well of late.
Vandy will go with Sonny Gray on Thursday, presumably followed by the normal weekend rotation of Grayson Garvin and Taylor Hill. Gray told us that his changeup has become a major weapon for him as the season has progressed, and he threw about 25 of them last week against Georgia.
• Mississippi State will give freshman righthander Evan Mitchell his second career start in the opener against the Gators. Georgia will go with ace Michael Palazzone—who threw a complete game to beat Vandy last Thursday—against the Commodores.
• Alabama assistant coach Andy Phillips told us he wasn't entirely sure who the Crimson Tide will start Wednesday against Arkansas, but he suggested ace Nathan Kilcrease is the likely choice. The Hogs will not start ace D.J. Baxendale on short rest but are reportedly expected to go with lefthander Randall Fant, who threw 6 1/3 scoreless innings against Mississippi on Saturday.