How do you gauge if a team will be a contender in a given season? If said team can win a weekend conference series, at one of the projected better teams in said conference, that would be a pretty good bellweather.
That's just what LSU did in Starkville, MS, this past weekend, taking two of three from Mississippi State to open the SEC schedule. LSU was paced by Mason Katz's stupid hot hitting and Ryan Eades strong pitching on Saturday, winning the first two games 6-4 and 7-3 before falling 10-2 to State on Sunday.
Friday night, Mason Katz's boomstick saved the day. After a rocky beginning from Aaron Nola (5.2IP, 9H, 4R, 4ER), Katz came through in the 10th inning with a two-run homer, his second of the day.
Nola might see himself switched with Eades after another rocky performance on Friday night. Mainieri told Eades that he could pitch his way into the Friday slot and the past two weeks he's arguably been the better of the two. While Nola hasn't been bad, Eades has been fantastic and you always want to start the weekend with your best guy on the mound.
Nola the past two weeks: 12 innings, 14 hits, 8 runs all earned, 10 K's and one walk. While his K/BB ratio is it's usual excellent self, Nola has been touched up and scored on two straight weekends. Eades on the other hand, has gone 13.2 innings, 12 hits, 4 runs earned, with 14 K's and 4 walks. While those aren't astoundingly better than Nola's, one more weekend of a line like Eades had vs. Mississippi State Saturday ( 7IP, 6H, 1R, 1ER) and Eades could find himself in the Friday night slot.
On Saturday it was the Ryan Eades Show, as he shut down the strong MSU offense for seven innings, spreading six hits throughout and allowing on a single run. Offensively, Mason Katz got it going again, sending a solo shot over the wall giving LSU a 1-0 lead that they would never relinquish.
It was a pretty effective offensive effort, with runs being manufactured through some solid hitting throughout the game. JaCoby Jones, who I mentioned during the game had been a buzzkill offensively lately, broke out of his slump with a pair of doubles, gaining himself 2 RBIs. Alex Bregman asserted himself further at the plate with LSU nursing a 4-1 lead in the 9th, jacking a 3-run dinger effectively putting the game away. If Bregman isn't making his case already for some national freshman All America honors, he should be soon. All the hype that was placed on him in the offseason is coming to fruition in spades.
Cody Glenn had a rough introduction on Sunday to the SEC. Glenn (3.1IP, 6H, 6R, 6ER) struck out none and walked three in his SEC debut. To be honest, I wasn't expecting Glenn to go out there and totally shut down State, who would be hard after a win following consecutive losses. If you remember, Aaron Nola had a similar experience against Mississippi State in his first SEC start. Next week will be the true measure of whether or not Glenn can handle the Sunday role in SEC play, as Auburn comes to the box. The WarTigerPlainsmen just got swept by Vanderbilt and LSU should be favored in those games. If we see another stat line similar to this past Sunday's, Mainieri might have to look at someone else in the Sunday starter slot.