Fall Report: LSUNotebook
BATON ROUGE, La. — Despite having some notable injuries this fall, the recurring opinion on LSU from scouts and observers alike has been the same: The Tigers look like a club ready to compete for the program’s seventh national title.
LSU long-time skipper Paul Mainieri won’t go that far. He just smiles when asked the question. But feels good about the Tigers looking ahead to 2019, granted they can stay healthy and figure a few things out about the middle of the pitching staff.
“I think we can certainly be great. But we aren’t there yet,” Mainieri said last week during LSU’s Fall World Series. “I think this fall, the big key for us has been getting some of our key pitchers back, and we also added some talented guys. I think our starting rotation has a chance to be really good.
“We’ve had some injuries on the mound and I haven’t seen some of our younger guys much, but I know they’re talented and very capable of going out and doing well,” he continued. “In the end, I like our pieces, and I think we can compete for anything and everything. But we’ve got a long way to go between now and the end of next season.”
The Tigers have plenty of reasons for optimism about the upcoming campaign.
The starting rotation appears to be set and talented. Veteran righthander Zack Hess had a strong summer at the Cape Cod League and with USA Baseball and is again ready to prove he’s a premier starting pitcher, while the Tigers welcome back righty Eric Walker, who missed last season because of an injury. There’s also ultra-talented freshman righthander Landon Marceaux, who has had a terrific fall and nailed down a spot in the rotation.
Imposing righthander Todd Peterson has the closer role cemented and had a strong fall, striking out four in two innings of work in his last outing of the fall, while the question mark on the mound are the middle relief roles.
Offensively, the Tigers, again, have much to be excited about. Daniel Cabrera looks even stronger and ready to have an outstanding spring, Josh Smith is healthy and playing at a high level, and this team is ecstatic to welcome back speedy outfielders Zach Watson and Antoine Duplantis.
No team is a finished product at this point in the fall, but the Tigers have all the pieces needed to do some extraordinary things in a few months.
Now, we’ll see if Mainieri’s club can put all the pieces together.
Without further ado, let’s take an inside look at the Tigers:
SETTING THE ROTATION
Many teams still have some important rotation battles that need to play out between now and Opening Day, but the Tigers already have a good idea as to who will make up their three-man rotation in the spring.