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2016 LSU Baseball Season Preview: The Bullpen

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Our preview of the 2016 LSU baseball teams shifts focus to the mound off in right field, with a very special guest.

@LSUBULLPEN in his "formal attire", whatever that means
@LSUBULLPEN in his "formal attire", whatever that means
@LSUBULLPEN

We continue our trek through the previews of the 2016 LSU baseball team, and joining us is @LSUBULLPEN, whose spot on commentary will shed a lot of insight as to what you can expect from...well...him this season.

#46 Parker Bugg (JR, RHP)

2015: 36.2 IP, 1.72 ERA, .203 BAA, 2.69 K/BB (34:13)

Bugg was half of the lethal back end of LSU's bullpen last year, with the other half being the since departed Zac Person. Heavy with the breaking balls, Parker was a rock that helped in handing games to Stallings, recording 3 saves on his own. With Stallings faltering at the end of the year, Bugg may make a bid to become a closer.

#37 Jesse Stallings (SO, RHP)

2015: 33 IP, 2.73 ERA, .209 BAA, 2.17 K/BB (26:12)

After Stallings set the world on fire in LSU's non-conference play, he experienced a return to Earth once the season wore on, almost to the point of crash landing. Much is made about the importance of a closer, but I personally find it hugely important to the success of a team to have a guy who specializes in coming in and going for broke, knowing he's at most pitching 2 innings a week. It's a position that can feature a lot of glamour, but if you don't have the right arm and mentality, it can also make you a scapegoat. I think last year Stallings struggled mightily with that, and for him to have a strong 2016 he needs to put it all in the rearview and approach the game with the same swagger he had before conference play last year.

#55 Hunter Newman (JR, RHP)

2015: 36.2 IP, 0.49 ERA, .203 BAA, 2.62 K/BB (34:13)

In 2015, Newman lead the team (who pitched more than inning) in ERA, even though his BAA and K/BB proved there was some luck involved in producing a number that low. Officially, he's been clocked at 91, but I think he can squeeze out another mph or two if need be. However, Newman was sidelined in 2014 with a shoulder injury, which is always scary in terms of a pitcher throwing too hard. Luck or not, Newman was incredibly efficient in his role as being one of the first relievers out of the pen, leading to the Bugg/Person-Stallings battery.

#21 Doug Norman (SO, RHP)

2015: 35.1 IP, 2.04 ERA, .262 BAA, 4.17 K/BB (25:6)

I honestly had no idea Norman's stat line was that good until I looked at it. Used primarily when the situation was not quite dire enough for the aforementioned Hunter Bugperson, Norman logged a lot of innings where his main goal was to not let shit hit the fan. And to his credit, he was quite good at it and will likely translate to a more prominent role in 2016. What's important about his stat line is the 6 walks. It's one thing for a hitter to earn a base or guess right, and it's another to let them on. As the old adage goes, walks will kill you and Norman does a great job at staying confined to the strike zone.

#45 Russell Reynolds (JR, RHP)

2015: 36.2 IP, 2.95 ERA, .197 BAA, 1.47 K/BB (25:17)

I spent a lot of time out behind the bullpen last year, and I've came to the conclusion that Russell Reynolds was the funnest pitcher to watch on the team. Not fun in an "he's about to handcuff a lineup" way that Aaron Nola or Alex Lange is, but in a "he's about to make the batter corkscrew into the ground or get laced" way. An objective fun. Decent fastball, but his bread and butter is in his devastating slider that on more than one occasion last year caused me to cringe because of how badly he made the batter miss. And he was damn good at it too, last year he only gave up one (1) base hit, a double. Usually when a pitcher runs the gambit with a breaking ball as much as Russ does, they suffer the consequences. Maybe he got lucky (he did, to a degree), but for the most part his slider is that effective. Unfortunately, the last thing you want late in a one run game is a hanging slider, so Reynolds may be used in more of a long relief/"Taco Bell Anderson" Sunday role.

#30 Collin Strall (JR, RHP)

2015: 18.1 IP, 3.93 ERA, .227 BAA, 1.7 K/BB (17:10)

Despite 22 appearances, Strall only logged 18 innings mostly due to his role as a righty/lefty matchup chess piece. Like Reynolds, Strall doesn't like going out of the strike zone and is willing to enter into a foul ball dogfight with the batter if need be. Armed with a breaking ball to compliment his fastball, his main way of generating outs is to pull the string on a changeup and take the pop out of a bat. Oh yeah, and he's a sidearm thrower, which is plenty tough for a hitter to make an adjustment to on the fly. If Strall was a lefty, he'd honestly have a better shot at having a more prominent role out of the pen, but it looks like he may be locked into more of the same this year, which isn't a diss so much as it is a testament to the depth of the bullpen.

#12 Hunter Devall (SR, LHP)

2015: 15.2 IP, 4.02 ERA, .224 BAA, 3.00 K/BB (15:5)

Hunter Devall...does not lack for confidence. He has some of the things coaches want to instill upon their players, but at times he's gotten caught not being smart about it. He will stand up and challenge any hitter to make contact with the ball and exerts a maximum effort on every pitch. However, as many of us know sometimes that is counterproductive and he has gotten caught overthrowing and having pitches end up where they shouldn't be. In order to be successful in 2016, Devall needs just to become more consistent. At times in 2015 he would throw straight junk and at others there would be an alarming amount of contact.

#32 Alden Cartwright (JR, RHP)

2015: 20 IP, 4.05 ERA, .286 BAA, 7.25 K/BB (29:4)

LSU's resident Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, Cartwright possess the tools to be a key part of the LSU staff, the numbers just haven't translated to that for some reason. He doesn't own an overpowering fastball, but he has a masterful 12-6 curve and knows when to throw it. While Devall has issues with overthrowing, the best way I can describe Cartwright is being too smart for his own good. Privy to shaking off pitches, Alden simply got caught being too cute or overthinking once or twice. But the silver lining and the proof that Cartwright can chuck is at the end of the stat line, the stupid K/BB ratio. You can claim the ERA and BAA are due to a 20 inning sample size, but there's no disproving 29 strikeouts to 4 walks.

#33 Cole McKay (FR, RHP)

The #37 high school prospect in his class according to Perfect Game (was ranked the 96th best pro prospect prior to the draft), the Texas pitcher has drawn rave reviews from Mainieri, who said he has the potential to be the next Gausman, Nola, or Lange. Yes, that's stupid high praise, but let's focus on what he is now: an unproven arm that will likely start out in the bullpen before working up if he succeeds. McKay has been clocked as high as 95 mph, but control of that speed needs development.

#29 Nick Bush (FR, LHP)

Paul said Bush reminds him of Zac Person, and I can see him having the same career arc as Person did, one who maybe didn't see the time on mound right away, but by the time his senior year rolls around he plays a big part on the team. Bush possesses a last-second breaking ball to pair with his low 90's fastball, but needs one or two more pitches to become effective.