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Mainieri Takes Some Practice Swings

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This weekend, LSU hosts Pepperdine and Brown in three-team, four-day tournament without the benefit of its ace pitcher, Anthony Ranaudo.  Who's excited?  Actually, this is a great early season opportunity not just for the pitching staff, but Mainieri himself. 

One of the cool things about baseball is how different postseason pitching staffs are from their regular season counterparts.  In the majors, pitching depth matters and a team without a back of the rotation is in deep trouble.  However, come playoff time, depth no longer matters and the format favors the Spahn and Sain and Pray For Rain method.  College is the exact opposite.  A team doesn't really need a deep rotation in the regular season given the three-game weekend series format.  Then in the postseason, you suddenly find out you need a viable fourth starter. 

Which is why this series is such a good opportunity for Mainieri to practice how to manage a shortened staff.  Losing Ranaudo makes the exercise even more difficult, as he can't simply slide his weekday starter into the last slot.

As of now, Matulis will start Thursday, Ross on Friday, and Bourgeois on Saturday.  Then things get fun.  Rittiner is penciled in as the Sunday starter, but that could change if he has to come in relief.  There's always Bradshaw, but Mainieri likes him coming out of the pen.  After that, the options get pretty thin.  Then again, at that point LSU would be throwing essentially their #7 starter out there.  This weekend is a chance for the coaching staff to get their postseason pitching management skills more finely honed. 

Some early season games are a glorified practice for the players.  Sure, it counts in the standings, but an early season loss isn't going to hurt anybody.  This is almost a glorified practice for the coaches, which is pretty darn cool.  Let's sit back and see how they manage a shorthanded pitching staff.  It's a good skill to work on.