After dropping the Vanderbilt series last week and a midweek game to that school in Lafayette, LSU is not quite in panic mode, but things have been better.
Midweek losses are going to happen, and Vanderbilt is a top ten team. LSU can’t win every weekend series. The Tigers’ current form isn’t stellar, but it also shouldn’t set off alarm bells. What is concerning is the seeming nonstop of injuries which have afflicted this team.
The year started with Eric Walker out for the year. Josh Smith played the first series of the year, but has been out of action ever since. That’s arguably your best pitcher and best position player, on the shelf before the season even got going. And since then, things have gotten worse.
Nick Webre’s been in and out of the lineup all year, primarily out of it. He did pinch hit against ULL and his status for the weekend is up in the air. Brandt Broussard broke his thumb and will now be out for 3-5 weeks. Chris Reid and the dynamic Austin Bain have gotten looks at second base. So what cures all? Good old fashioned hate.
Record: 13-13 (1-5)
There are few things more satisfying than a Mississippi State baseball team in dead last. But don’t worry, they rank last or near last in many major statistical categories in the SEC. SEC ranks next to last in batting average, doubles, and total bases. They rank dead last in OBP, slugging, runs scored, RBI, home runs, walks, and walks allowed. That’s an impressive list of futility. Let’s hope the Tigers can add to it.
Can their mascot beat Mike the Tiger in a fight?
It’s a bulldog. Now, bulldogs are really cute in an odd sort of way. I’m down with the general sloth and laziness of a bulldog. But honestly, everything that makes a bulldog great is what makes them a poor excuse for a combatant. The only way Mike doesn’t eat Bully is if he gets distracted by something shiny. This is an easy win for the tiger. Eat well, Mike.
Jake Magnum 336/403/440
Josh Hatcher 314/377/431
Tanner Allen 289/386/423
The Bulldogs hit 268/357/372 as a team, which isn’t great as we noted above, but it’s also not in cover your eyes awful territory either. There’s also some legit middle of the lineup hitters here. None of them are in the league leaders or anything, but that’s a credible group of hitters who can hurt you. There’s not much power here (14 homers) and decent speed (20 for 22 on stolen base attempts), so they need to string hits together for a rally. It’s not a bad group, but it is an unremarkable one.
Jr. LHP Konnor Pilkington (1-3, 1.82 ERA, 34.2 IP, 48/4 K/BB)
So. LHP Ethan Small (1-2, 2.73 ERA, 33.0 IP, 46/10 K/BB)
Sr. RHP Jacob Billingsley (2-1, 3.96 ERA, 25.0 IP, 21/16 K/BB)
Konnor Pilkington is the poster child for Hard Luck Starter this season. He looks every bit of the projected top ten pick. He’s got a Major League fastball, pinpoint control, and the sort of stuff that makes scouts drool. He also has the stats to make analysts go gaga. He’s legit.
The rest of the staff is not quite about to his lofty standard. Ethan Small doesn’t have quite same velocity or stuff. He’s also a fastball pitcher but it’s hard to be Pilkington. Billingsley is the dreaded crafty veteran. He’s there to keep the lights on and hope he can keep things close for the bullpen.
LSU isn’t playing their best right now and the team is banged up pretty badly. But a home series against your biggest SEC rival while they are suffering through a down season could be just what the doctor ordered. I don’t want to go all-in on a sweep, LSU isn’t playing well enough to think that’s likely, but LSU should win this series handily. Run it up and rub their noses in it.