After another midweek loss, LSU attempts to regroup again this weekend. Last year’s sweep of the LSU Invitational was a big dose of what the doctor ordered, and now LSU plays host to another team that lacks the panache of Texas. Those big series are in the rear view window right now, and we’ve moved into the unofficial tinkering with the roster season.
Record: 7-4 (0-0, Big West)
The good news is that Hawai’i has an anemic offense which should help out whoever finally gets the Sunday start for LSU. The bad news is that Hawai’i doesn’t allow anyone to score. They are allowing under 2.5 runs a game and have not allowed more than 4 runs in any game. LSU’s offense should break that streak, but its not like Hawai’i has played hapless teams: they have beaten BYU, Air Force, and Loyola-Marymount. Not the ’27 Yankees, I know, but also not easy games for Hawai’i. Yet they have completely tamed the bats they have faced so far.
Could their mascot win a fight with Mike the Tiger?
First off, let’s mourn the fact that Hawai’i’s mascot is no longer the Rainbows. That was the best. And frankly, Mike would have been helpless against a rainbow. I mean, it lacks a corporal form for him to paw at. But a warrior? Look, I don’t care how bad ass your native warrior is, a spear is no match for a feline killing machine. I’ll give the warrior a fighting chance, but in the end, Mike will score a late round knockout.
1B/OF Adam Fogel (351/478/730)
3B Ethan Lopez (317/341/390)
1B/OF Eric Ramirez (273/469/273)
It gets ugly pretty quickly. Ramirez hit five homers last year, leading the team, so maybe the fact he doesn’t have an extra base hit all season is one of those small sample size quirks. Still, only two players with at least 10 plate appearances have an OBP above 400 and only one player has slugging above 400.
Adam Fogel has been a one-man show on offense, carrying a disproportionate share of the offense. He has 2 of the team’s 3 home runs, its only triple, and 6 of the team’s 17 doubles. He has either scored or driven in 14 of the team’s 38 runs on the season. If there’s one guy you need to get out, it’s Fogel. He’s been the whole show.
The team can’t hit, but it also is poor at generating runs. Hawai’i has hit 244/333/330 on the season, but they have just five steals on 9 attempts. They have 13 sacrifice hits, but 6 of them have come from the weak-hitting Johnny Weeks (115/258/115). This is a dink and dunk team that doesn’t run or bunt a whole lot.
Jr. RHP Jackson Rees (1-0, 0.93 ERA, 19.1 IP, 19/5 K/BB)
Jr. LHP Dominic DeMiero (1-0, 1.89 ERA, 19.0 IP, 11/5 K/BB)
Sr. RHP Neil Uskali (2-1, 2.55 ERA, 17.2 IP, 12/7 K/BB) OR So. RHP Logan Pouelsen (2-0, 0.60 ERA, 15.0 IP, 9/2 K/BB)
Hawai’i has an embarrassment of riches in the pitching staff. They have four starters who have combined for a 51/19 K/BB ratio over 71 innings. They’ve allowed just 12 runs for an ERA of 1.52. That’s a terrific staff that, ok, hasn’t faced an offense of LSU’s caliber, but has still utterly dominated the opposition.
There’s not much relief in the pen. Four Hawai’i relievers boast a 0.00 ERA though , to be fair, two of them have faced just one batter. But the entire pen has allowed just 7 earned runs over 27 innings for an ERA of 2.33. Dylan Thomas, the most used reliver, has 6 strikeouts and 0 walks in 6.2 IP. All told, Hawai’i pitchers hold the opposition to a .198 batting average, just 2 homers all year, and a staff ERA of 1.74. It’s amazing.
You gotta score runs to win. Hawai’i has a terrific pitching staff and that should keep them competitive all weekend long, but if this team falls behind, I don’t see how they can manage the runs to come back, even against LSU’s staff.
LSU’s wheel of pitching has landed on either Nick Storz or Ma’Khail Hilliard for the Sunday start. Storz hasn’t made an appearance yet, but Hilliard has been the team’s best bullpen arm so far, sporting a 0.00 ERA himself over 12 innings. I think Hawai’i may be able to squeak one out thanks to its staff, but I’m not so sure if LSU can find a Sunday starter. Mainieri has to be aiming for a sweep here.