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2022 LSU Baseball Preview: Relief Pitching

A plethora of arms gives LSU a lot of different options in the bullpen

Wrapping up our baseball preview with an LSU bullpen that’s got a lot of options to work with. This year the Tigers have some sophomores who got a good bit of experience last season, some JUCO transfers looking to show they can hang with SEC competition and an intriguing power arm that, if healthy, can raise the ceiling for the 2022 LSU baseball team.

Righties

Ty Floyd: 0-2 (20 appearances), 4.44 ERA, 39Ks/14 BBs in 24.1 IP

Floyd was a prospect scouts were high on coming out of high school, ranking 28th overall by PerfectGame. Floyd, like Dylan Crews, probably wouldn’t have made it to Baton Rouge had COVID not totally altered the 2020 MLB Draft. Instead Floyd worked 24 innings of relief as a freshman and the numbers don’t really reflect his ability.

Garrett Edwards: 2-2 (24 appearances, two starts), 3.41 ERA, 34 Ks/13 BBs in 37 IP

Will Hellmers: 6-2 (18 appearances, nine starts) 4.08 ERA, 36Ks/17 BBs in 39.2 IP

Like Floyd, Edwards and Hellmers are back for their second season in purple and gold and figure to be in that top group of bullpen arms (that is of course assuming Jay Johnson doesn’t play Hellmers at third base again for reasons that still don’t make sense to me). Neither have overpowering stuff but you can count on both to eat up innings or even be a midweek starter.

Bryce Collins

Collins is an unknown as he hasn’t pitched in nearly three years due to Tommy John surgery. A former Arizona player, Collins followed Jay Johnson to Baton Rouge and has a 90-92 MPH fastball and a pretty good curve by all accounts. It’ll just come down to how his arm responds from surgery.

Samuel Dutton

Trent Vietmeier: 0-0 (21 appearances, one start) 3.93 ERA, 16 Ks/5 BBs in 18.1 IP

Michael Fowler: 1-0 (14 appearances), 6.52 ERA, 19 Ks/13 BBs in 19.1 IP

Jason Bollman: 5-2 (13 appearances, eight starts, two saves), 3.97 ERA, 73 Ks/21 BB in 45 IP at Wabash Valley Community College

Dutton and Vietmeier are two total opposite ends of the spectrum. Dutton enters year one at LSU while Vietmeier is entering either year 87 or 88 it’s hard to remember. Dutton hopefully turns into a starter later on in his career and maybe gets the occasional start during the midweek to expedite his development.

All jokes aside, Vietmeier is a guy who has been in numerous big situations throughout his LSU career and will continue to be relied upon in 2022. He’s the type of guy every program needs.

Fowler will need to improve his control after issuing 13 walks in 19 innings of work last season. Bollman’s an unknown after transferring in from Wabash Valley Community College.

Lefties

Riley Cooper: 3-0 (29 appearances, two starts), 4.88 ERA, 20 Ks in 31.1 IP at Arizona

Jacob Hasty: 0-1 (19 appearances) 4.24 ERA, 15 Ks/9 BBs in 17 IP

Trey Shaffer: 3-3 (13 appearances, seven starts), 4.95 ERA, 59 Ks/30 BBs in 40 IP at Southeastern

Cooper (no not that Riley Cooper) is probably LSU’s first lefty out of the pen in 2022. Cooper, like Bryce Collins and Jacob Berry, is another Arizona Wildcat that followed Jay Johnson to LSU. As a freshman Cooper took the mound 29 times last season for Arizona, which led the team, and even pitched against Ole Miss in the Super Regional and Vanderbilt in Omaha. A lefty bullpen arm that’s faced SEC hitting in the biggest stage of college baseball? Yes please.

Shaffer is another incoming transfer, this time from Hammond, America. Shaffer’s got plenty of experience (49 career appearances, 127 innings pitched) but that was against Southland competition. How does he handle SEC competition?

Hasty is a third-year sophomore that’s gotten his fair share of work. He pitched a scoreless inning against Arkansas and Kentucky and struck out three in two innings against Vanderbilt last season.

Set Up Men

Grant Fontenot

Grant Taylor

The Grants are both incoming freshmen that could possibly emerge as the Tiger closer and set up man later on in their LSU careers. Though they are about the same height, Taylor has 45 pounds on Fontenot and has a fastball that touches 94.

Closers

Eric Reyzelman: 3-3 (16 appearances, 10 starts), 6.17 ERA, 39 Ks in 35 IP at San Francisco

Paul Gervase: 14 appearances, 1.66 ERA, 35 Ks in 21.2 IP at Pitt Community College

Reyzelman is maybe the single biggest wildcard in the LSU bullpen. He’s coming off of Tommy John surgery and if he’s fully recovered and he hasn’t lost any velocity on his fastball—which can reportedly hit 97 and up—he could be a Zack Hess type of closer who just throws gas at opposing batters. He’s not a one trick pony either, he’s got a curve and slider that can produce swing and misses and if the command on the offspeed pitches are there LSU may have an elite closer in the pen.

Gervase has had an interesting career arc beginning at Wake Tech Community College in Raleigh, then Pitt Community College in Winterville North Carolina, to now LSU. He was a JUCO All-American last year and is listed at 6’10”. Make of that what you will.