We didn’t have a traditional weekend preview for the baseball team last week because, well, I was worn out from writing the season preview. You get what you get, you jackals.
But now we are starting to set into our seasonal rhythms, it’s time to dust off another year of barely relevant weekend previews. In the past, I’ve spent most of the space of these articles to help you better get to know our opponent, and while I’m sill committed to giving you the lowdown on the enemy, I want to make sure we spend a little bit more time talking about LSU in these things.
Which is to say, we’re going to try and change the formula just a tad. Tell me if there’s anything you’d like to see in these weekly previews because while we’re under the hood, this is the best time to tinker. But first, as always, this weeks opponent.
Eastern Kentucky Colonels
Record: 3-0 (0-0 in the Ohio Valley)
2019 RS/RA: 429/362
2019 RPI/ISR: 196/175
Last Weekend: Swept Presbyterian
Its hard to get a read on a team in just week one, but last year’s EKU team had decent power, but they liked to run. A lot. They only stole 3 bases in their opening weekend, but they were also bludgeoning an outmatched Presbyterian team, and maybe swiping some extra bases just seemed mean. The offense can put up runs, but their undoing is on the other side of the diamond, as they struggle to keep teams from scoring. They won their first series by a combined score of 26-17, so we’re not talking about the 1960’s Dodgers here.
The Week That Was
Yay, baseball is back! Boo, they lost two games! This team is clearly terrible and doomed to miss the postseason entirely! Yargle bargle! Arggh!
LSU won its first two games, and it took less than 48 hours of live baseball before the boo birds have come out in force online to complain. You have to respect the commitment. Is it good LSU lost two of their first five games? Well, you’d rather win, of course, but it doesn’t really matter all that much. LSU got the series win against Indiana and the loss to Nicholls was just one of those things. Midweek games are weird, and you shouldn’t read anything into them.
What is concerning is that no one is hitting all that great. Unless your name is Zack Mathis, you probably underperformed expectations last weekend. And even he wasn’t scorching hot, going 4-12 with a homer and 3 RBI. But there was a lot of concerning numbers, even if it is too early to be concerned. Hayden Travinski and Gio DiGiacomo both went hitless, Gavin Dugas went 1-8 with 4 strikeouts, and Hal Hughes picked up where he left off last year, going 1-8 on the weekend, though he did have 2 RBI.
Paul Mainieri is playing with the lineup a lot right now, which is fair. Whose job should be safe right now? Wes Toups will get to start this weekend and Alex Milazzo will get two starts behind the plate, as Saul Garza slowly gets moved to the DH slot.
Who Scares You?
Ok, normally I’d put some slash stats here, but come on… it’s week one. Let’s chill out. That said, Nick Howie is a legit hitter. D1baseball.com ranks him as the 39th best hitter in the nation in the preseason, and he hit .353 with 11 homers last year. They scored 26 runs and that was with Howie being a non-factor, so this isn’t a one-man team.
Logan Thomason led the way for the Colonels last week, hitting 500/571/750. It’s not scary that they have a guy doing that this early in the year. In fact, it’s more concerning that LSU doesn’t have a hitter with a whacked out line like that right now. But the Colonels have five players slugging 650 or above and eight players in the starting lineup with an OBP of at least 400. The only guy who doesn’t?
Comic Book to Read Instead
Because we care about our non-sports fan followers, what if you don’t like baseball? First off, why are you reading this article? This was a pretty long way to go down the page to get some non-baseball content in an explicitly baseball article. But well played for sticking with us. Because I’ll recommend something from the stack to read during the rain delays or some inevitable lull in the action.
House of X/Powers of X
Jonathan Hickman is one of the most daring and compelling comic book writers in the business. He’s unafraid to lead his audience on wild tangents and play head trips, expecting you to keep up. And he’s been handed the keys to the mutant kingdom.
The X-Universe, once the crown jewel of Marvel, has dimmed quite a bit over the past few decades. I guess there’s only so many times you can reboot things or kill off Jean Grey, only to bring her back. Hickman leans into the X-Men’s complicated mythos and constant reinventions and resurrections to tell the story of Charles Xavier’s newest… well, not exactly dream. While you were sleeping, the world changed.
This is one of the greatest reboots of any title in years and it sets up a fascinating future for our favorite outcasts. But most importantly, he tells a compelling story that spans over a thousand years, but still has time to flesh out the characters at the center of it. It’s great. Go buy it.
LSU – So. RH Cole Henry (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 4.0 IP, 0 BB, 8 SO)
EKU – Sr. LH Brennan Kelly (0-0, 21.00 ERA, 3.0 IP, 4 BB, 1 SO)
LSU – So. RH Landon Marceaux (0-0, 6.23 ERA, 4.1 IP, 1 BB, 4 SO)
EKU – So. RH Jacob Ferris (0-0, 4.50 ERA, 4.0 IP, 2 BB, 4 SO)
LSU – So. RH AJ Labas (0-1, 6.23 ERA, 4.1 IP, 2 BB, 2 SO)
EKU – Jr. LH Jake Lewis (1-0, 2.25 ERA, 4.0 IP, 4 BB, 3 SO)
LSU has the clear matchup advantage on Friday night, throwing Cole Henry onto the hill, a guy who was positively dominant in his first outing. Brennan Kelly, on the other hand, was not. Saturday, things get interesting. Ferris was a bullpen arm converted to a midweek starter last season. He struck out 60 batters in 65 innings last year, so he does have the ability to make you miss. Marceaux had a better outing than his ERA would indicate, as the wheels sort of came off for him in the fifth inning. He wasn’t exactly on cruise control, but he got hit hard to leadoff the inning, showing that right now, when he runs out of gas, he really runs out of gas.
AJ Labas was also a hard luck loser in his opener. Aside from a triple in the third, Labas moved through the order efficiently, but he gave up a smattering of singles in the fifth, only to get pulled and then let down by the pen, who allowed both inherited runners to score. The offense didn’t help him out much either. Jake Lewis is one of two lefties EKU will start this weekend, the traditional bugaboo for LSU hitters. He has a career ERA of 7.91, but turned in a gem in his opener this year, leaving the game with an 8-1 lead.
The Nitty Gritty
The games are available on SEC Network+, so if you haven’t downloaded the free ESPN app, now is the time. Seriously, y’all. You get almost every LSU baseball and softball game plus a heavy dose of gym. It’s worth it. No, I don’t work for ESPN.
You can listen to Friday and Sunday on 98.1 FM and 100.7 FM Saturday. If you aren’t in Baton Rouge, you can listen online at www.LSUsports.net/live or the LSU Sports phone app or through their new Tunein page. Or you can follow along the play-by-play on PodKatt’s twitter feed at @valleshook.
If you miss out on the games, you only have yourself to blame, to be honest.