Missouri ace Brett Graves, who missed his scheduled start on Friday after being drilled in the head by a stray warmup toss, will be taking the mound for the Tigers on Sunday to close out the series against Ole Miss.
Graves passed concussion tests and has been cleared to help his team avoid a three-game sweep in Oxford, as reported by Aaron Reiss of Missouri's student publication, The Maneater (is there a more morbid newspaper name ever?).
In case you missed the background on this, it's one of the most bizarre scratches you'll ever hear about in a baseball game. Graves, who carries a 3-1 record and a menacing 1.50 ERA, was all set to make his usual start in Game 1 on Friday night. He had just jogged out of the dugout and was heading down the right field line towards the bullpen, minding his own business… when he got hammered in the side of the head by a errant warmup throw from Rebel infielder John Gatlin.
Graves was scratched 30 minutes before first pitch of Mizzou's eventual 4-3 loss. A Mizzou spokesman told Reiss that Graves exhibited dizziness and soreness but passed concussion tests and did not go to the hospital.
We at the Cup are excited about this bold new addition to Bianco Ball strategy*. The goal of any offense facing an ace is to knock him out of the game -- but few have ever thought to do this literally… before the game even started. And y'all said Mike Bianco stuck to the same tired script and refused to innovate!
In unrelated news, Gatlin has been named the series MVP, despite not playing in either of the first two games.
In all seriousness, this may not be the worst thing to have happened to Mizzou. By throwing their ace on Sunday, they have a much better shot of avoiding the sweep. So you're welcome.
First pitch on Sunday is at 1:30 p.m. CT. Graves will face Rebel righty Sam "Sunday Sizzle" Smith, who isn't exactly an easy matchup on the back end of a series -- he's rocking a 3-1 record and 1.84 ERA. And don't think the Sizzle won't bust somebody in the head with a baseball.
* If you've played baseball at any level, you know that not paying attention while you're walking behind a warmup line is bad practice. While hilarious, this is clearly an accident.