In part one earlier we discussed the offensive woes and the overall impact it could have on the season, might have been a over-reaction, might not. It is too early to tell, but what I think my job is to convey to the average fan that yea LSU took two of three games against their first true test of the season, but don’t buy that ticket to Omaha just yet.
Part two of the breakdown is focusing on the pitching staff for the Tigers. Without question, the starting rotation is the backbone of the team. Need proof, just check out Sunday’s outing. Aaron Nola allowed five runs in the first inning and after reviewing the LSU offense, was there really a reason to continue playing the game? When LSU gives up more than five runs, they are winless (0-2). When LSU is leading or tied after the sixth inning, they are 16-0 on the season and 0-4 when trailing. See starting pitching is important and no more so than Baton Rouge.
Just how well did LSU starters perform, lets look below…
(FO)-Fly Out, (GO)-Ground Out, (NP)-Number of Pitches, (ST)-Strikes Thrown
The bottom line is with exception to Aaron Nola’s first innings on Sunday, the starters were excellent. Nearly a 1-1 ratio in strikeouts to innings pitched, more fly outs than groundouts (less pressure on defense), only six walks (faced 76 batters) and threw 68 percent strikes (70+ percent is excellent). Kevin Gausman continues to look like a man who is going to be very wealthy after the MLB draft in June and Ryan Eades continues to show improvements week to week. Eades isn’t as dominate as Gausman or Nola (potentially), but he continues to throw strikes and put pressure on the opponents. The jury is still out on Nola, if can’t pitch under control early in the game they will need to bring up another arm. I think he will be fine though, in his first start of the season (McNeese State) he had a rough outing, but settled into his mid-week starts since. I would look for the same trend to continue
Let’s move on to the back half of the staff. The starters made the bullpens work very easy. The pen only had to pitch 5.1 innings allowing LSU not to have to dig too deep into their arms. Let’s take a quick look at the five pitchers LSU used and their production.
The bullpen as a whole was good, but not great. Kurt McCune made his first appearance of the season from the pen and may have thrown his best innings since his first start of the season. What has hurt McCune all year was his inability to throw strike, but he completed 68 percent on Sunday. Brent Bonvilliain first batter he faced hit a massive homerun to right field and that was the last we saw from him. Bourgeois was almost forgettable, but got the job done. Goody struggled most of the weekend. Pitching on Friday and Saturday, his 2.0 WHIP and only throwing 59 percent strikes is very McCune-like. Nick Rumbelow once again put forth a solid weekend. Only recording one inning in two appearances struck out two Bulldogs.
The pitching staff as a hole won this weekend for LSU. The Tigers need to continue to work on their Sunday starter and improve the overall quality of the bullpen. The Tigers get back to work on Tuesday when they host Southern at 5:00pm then it is off to a tough weekend series against Auburn.