LSU Baseball Spring Training Review: Starting Pitchers


With Monday night’s rainout against Notre Dame, the Tigers can now set its sights on SEC weekend play for the rest of the season. LSU concluded its “spring training” with a 13-3 record and a few questions about how strong of a team the Tigers can be. Over the course of the week, the staff at will try to shed some light on the good and areas that need improvement for the Tigers to compete for a SEC title. Let’s get stated with the starting rotation.

The rotation coming into the season was supposed to be the backbone for the Tigers as the hitters tried to find their stride and the young bullpen developed. For the most part the rotation has done that. Kevin Gausman has been a stud all season long with a crazy low 1.32 ERA and has struck out 31 batters to only two walks. Ryan Eades has fit in nicely backing up Gausman on Saturday. Like Gausman, Eades has a crazy strikeout to walk ration (25:3), and has only allowed 20 base hits in 25.1 innings pitched. What has been concerning is what LSU is going to do with the Sunday Starter.

Kurt McCune has manned the spot all season, but after a great opening weekend performance against Air force (6 IP, 3 hits, threw 70% strikes); McCune has fallen short of expectations. In his last three starts, McCune has only recorded 10.2 innings pitched, allowed 17 hits, 10 earned runs, walked 6 and only stuck out seven. He is only throwing 60 percent of his pitches for strikes and in his last two outings he threw less that 55 percent for strikes.

Due to McCune’s struggles, grumblings for a replacement has started to rise up not just from the message boards, but the main stream media. Many are ready for freshman Aaron Nola to take over. Before we dump McCune to the bullpen I think it would only be fair to compare all four pitchers with one another to make sure this is the right move. This is really important because of the lack of power from the plate and lack of scoring runs consistently from the Tiger offense. Take a look at the chart below. Don’t worry I will explain it below.

Innings Pitched16.227.125.118
Hits Allowed20202011
Earned Runs10464
Walks Allowed7231
Strike Thrown%60706872
Fly out %25202627

I know this is a lot of information to digest, but stay with me. The first six rows are common pitching stats that everyone should be familiar with. Notice the amount of innings that Gausman and Eades have recorded compared to McCune. All three have allowed 20 base hits by their opponents, but when you look at the number of strike outs and walked by all three, McCune’s struggles start to make sense.

The next six might be unknown for many so give me minute to explain. WHIP (Walks and Hits per Inning Pitched) speaks for itself. Notice how McCune’s WHIP is nearly double the rest of the staff. Equally important is how low Aaron Nola’s WHIP is. The last five breaks down each pitchers outcome against batters face and puts a percentage next to it. Everyone has there opinion about what is a better “out” to record. My opinion is in the college game fly balls are better that grounders. My reason for this is you take the potential throw-out of the equation and the field. A fly out doesn’t have a chance to hit a hole in the infield and get by the defender. Due to that the numbers show Gausman is struggling, but thankfully LSU is playing great defense and Gausman has recorded 28 percent of hit outs due to grounders. Unfortunately, McCune can not hide from this stat either. He is third lowest in fly out percentages, second lowest in grounders and last in strikeout and walk percentages.

After review all the data two things are certain. First, Gauseman and Eades are on pace to have excellent season. Second, McCune has done enough to go to the bullpen for a few weeks and give the freshman a chance. This all has to do with McCune. Even though Nola has great stats, the truth is there isn’t enough data for proper calculations. Even though he has recorded more innings that McCune, three of his outings was from the bullpen. His two starts came against McNeese State (19-10 win) and Tulane (5-0 win). Nola was set to start Monday night’s game against Notre Dame, but it was rained out. That game would have given head coach Paul Maineri one more chance to evaluate the freshman before SEC play begins. Maineri should give Nola a chance even without sufficient data, it nothing else to show McCune that no starting spot is guaranteed.

Check back later in the week for reviews on the rest of the team.