The LSU pitching staff continues to dominate SEC hitters this season. Through seven weeks, the Tigers lead the conference in strikeouts with 179. They are second in walks allowed (50) and opponent’s batting average (.250). LSU is fourth in ERA (3.67), hits allowed (178) and runs allowed (98).
What has been impressive with the staff is its consistency. With exception to only a few outing, the starters and bullpen have shutdown some of the best offense both on the road and at the Box. Paul Maineri and his staff have excelled this season figuring out the right position for each pitcher.
Let’s start off with looking at the starter’s stats.
The starters as a whole have been pitching crazy over the seven weeks, but have weaknesses. All three ERAs have risen one run each in the last two weeks thanks to facing tough offenses in Kentucky and Georgia. What is impressive is the strikeout to walk ratio with both Kevin Gausman and Aaron Nola. For every walk Gausman allows he is striking out four, and Nola tops him with 15 strikeouts to one walk.
Moving forward, Nola worries me a bit. Not enough to consider replacing him due to his overall stats in SEC play, but it seems like he might have hit a wall in his freshman year. Nola’s two walks in 34.1 innings shows that he throws a lot of strike, but something that isn’t a good thing. Nola has given up six home runs, and is susceptible to the big inning. Against Mississippi State, Florida, Kentucky and Georgia he either struggle the first time or second through the lineup to limit the opponent’s offensive production. He has the stuff to become a Friday night starter, but has got to learn that throwing hard isn’t going to record outs; instead he has got to learn to use the corners better.
The occasional struggle of the starting pitching has been masked by the performance of the bullpen. The pen has recorded more wins than the starters (8-6) and for the most part does exactly what relievers are supposed to do, limit base-runners.
Without any further rambling, let’s take a look at the bullpen stats.
With exception to Kevin Berry, all of the arms make weekly appearances over the weekends. Nick Goody, Nick Rumbelow, Chris Cotton and Brent Bonvillain have been the aces of the pen. All of them have extremely low OBA and WHIPs. Goody struggled early in SEC play and looked like he might be replaced, but has bounced back and has looked just as dominate as Matty Ott during his freshman year.
The only question I have about the staff is what do you do with Kurt McCune? McCune started the year as a starter, but struggled with control and was replaced with Nola. He was sent to the bullpen where early on he showed that this might be a better fit for him and the transition was smooth. While Goody was struggling, McCune was used as a closer. Once Goody emerged as the closer the only role McCune has found himself in over the weekends was a setup pitcher with Nick Rumbelow. It seems like he is just a lost arm in the rotation, but make no mistake LSU will need the experience of McCune moving forward in post-season play, but where will he be?