Despite a busy mid-week, the LSU pitching staff is in good shape heading onto a weekend series with Alabama.
Tigers coach Paul Mainieri said his bullpen is rested and ready for the Crimson Tide, although the order of who pitches when might be juggled a bit.
Normally sophomore Joe Broussard is the first right-hander out of the pen, especially in long-relief situations. But he started Tuesday against Alcorn State and threw into the 7th inning, firing 81 pitches. That means he’s likely idle Friday.
Likewise, left-hander Brent Bonvillain won’t be thrust into action Friday after logging three innings against Southern Miss. He has thrown 7.1 consecutive scoreless innings and has stepped in to fill a role next to Broussard as a long reliever.
With those two out, junior Chris Cotton would be the first left-hander Mainieri would turn to and Joey Bourgeois could be in line if the Tigers need a right-hander to set up Nick Rumbelow and Nick Goody in a close game.
The rotation is also back to normal, with freshman Aaron Nola back in the Sunday spot after he skipped last week’s series to let a sore shoulder rest.
Make room for Raph
All indications are that junior Raph Rhymes will return to action this weekend after missing three games with the lingering effects of a concussion.
The SEC’s top hitter at .465, Rhymes is likely to be the designated hitter to limit the time he is on his feet.
Before Thursday’s practice, he went through a three-tier workout of base running, hitting in the cage and then facing live pitching. He said he felt fine via text message Thursday and Mainieri said he’s hopeful there are no setbacks.
Included Rhymes’ concussion, injuries have whittled the number of available position players LSU has to the point where setting up a 27-man SEC weekend roster is easy for Mainieri.
Just not preferable.
Alex Edward is out with a sore hamstring this weekend, leaving the Tigers with 15 healthy non-pitchers. That’s the number Mainieri often takes into the weekend, along with 12 pitchers.
He’d rather have more decisions to make.
“What a coach likes is to have make those tough decisions between really good ball players,” Mainieri said. “You don’t want to be put into a situation where there’s no decision to be made because you’re so limited.”
The Tigers have managed the spate of injuries well, started with Chris Sciambra’s scary season-ending broken neck two weekends ago.
Those three have combined to go 13-for-27 since the series opener vs. Florida.
“What this team has shown so far is that those players who are waiting in the periphery and waiting for an opportunity are learning how to take advantage of that opportunity when they get it.”
Here is the roster LSU will use this weekend against Alabama:
Position players – Ty Ross, Jordy Snikeris, Tyler Moore, Grant Dozar, JaCoby Jones, Casey Yocom, Austin Nola, Tyler Hanover, Beau Didier, Evan Powell, Raph Rhymes, Jared Foster, Arby Fields, Mason Katz, Jackson Slaid