LSU has a problem: Alex Lange is not Alex Lange.
Or rather, Alex Lange is not the same pitcher at this point of the season he was during his breakout freshman campaign. Lange has been hammered this year, and it shows when you hold up his numbers to those of he remarkable 2015.
|2016 (5 games)||30||30||15||4.50||.268||2.43|
|2015 (First 5 games)||30||21||5||1.50||.210||3.20|
The first thing that we should address is that how Alex Lange absolutely dominated the non conference games (okay, Arkansas is included in the mix) his freshman year before taking a hit over the long stretch of SEC play. Lange absolutely feasted against Kansas, Boston College, Princeton, Baylor, and Arkansas. Five earned runs is absolutely insane, and four of those runs came in one "bad" game against Boston College that was an three run LSU win anyway.
Now, your perceptions are correct: Alex Lange is in a sophomore slump. The nine extra hits is one thing, but in the same amount of innings pitched he has given up three time as many earned runs. While he raced out to an incredible start to his collegiate career, this year he's sitting at the opposite end of the spectrum. He has been by no means terrible, but it's showing that he's getting hit harder. Earned runs are always kind of iffy because you can theoretically give up three singles an inning and still not allow any runs while you could strike out two batters on six pitches and give up a home run and suffer from it. That's an extreme scenario, but it's possible when looking at earned runs and a pitcher's ERA. But even the two stats I personally value the most, BAA and K/BB also show a hefty rise/fall when looking at the first five games of Lange's two seasons.
Should we be worried?
Even when looking at his stats in the long run of 2015, #thedecline is noticeable. But honestly, given how freakishly good Alex Lange was in 2015, he set himself up for a "slump". So no, you absolutely should not be worried about Lange. Concerned for the worst possible outcome despite how unlikely, maybe. Because there's always a possibility he won't recover, but I don't think there's much to worry about. While Lange took home his first loss of his collegiate career on Saturday, he also went six innings strong on two hits without a run. That's some 2015 Alex Lange shit. It was just that the seventh inning was too much for Lange, as he surrendered four runs before getting the hook.
On Saturday, Lange went with his curveball. All three of Lange's major pitches were running for six innings, but in the seventh his curveball began to hang and get mashed upon and when you have to rely on a fastball and changeup things can get pretty dicey, which they did.
Lange will be fine though. Pitching coach Alan Dunn is one of the best in the business and the process of getting Lange back into his groove is noticeable. And while John Valek III has been an incredible acquisition, this team needs Alex Lange back to form, especially given how dicey Jared Poche' has been. From a pitching standpoint there's much more to worry about, namely the bullpen, than Alex Lange.