Baseball Preview: Relief Pitching

This is the second edition of a six week breakdown of the 2013 LSU Tigers. With the departure of Nick Goody, Coach Paul Mainieri discusses the importance of the closers role. Mainieri explains that who will take over role of closer will affect other aspects of the pitching staff. Two players are starting to separate themselves when it comes to the race for the closers role.

With LSU still trying to figure out exactly how they will run the role of the third starting pitcher, Coach Paul Mainieri explained that it ultimately hinges on how the bullpen will shape up for the Tigers. Mainieri and the rest of the LSU staff are working diligently to figure out who will replace the departed Nick Goody in the closers role.

Despite the departure of Goody from the staff, Mainieri feels as though he has plenty of options that he can turn to when deciding who will take over the closers role. Currently, there are two names that jump off the page as potential late-inning guys for LSU.

"The big decision we need to make is who we are going to close with," Mainieri told TSD. "I think the best candidates right now are [Chris] Cotton and [Nick] Rumbelow. But, I'm also considering both of those guys as potential starters in that third starters role. The closers role is the first thing we need to define."

The first, Chris Cotton, is a 5-10 175 pound senior. Last season Cotton led the bullpen in appearances (36), innings pitched (45.1), and ERA (1.59). Cotton also did not suffer a loss the entire season, going 7-0 out of the bullpen. It should come as no surprise that he is being considered for one of the most important roles on the LSU staff.

Mainieri said Cotton is an intriguing choice for the closers role just because of the intangibles that the senior possesses.

"Cotton is an amazing guy," said Mainieri. "He isn't very big and he was a walk on. He doesn't throw exceptionally hard, and yet he has been one of our most effective guys for several seasons."

"He could excel in whatever role I decide to put him in. He throws the best pitch in baseball. A lot of people don't understand what I mean when I say that, but the best pitch in baseball is a strike."

The other choice for the closers role, Nick Rumbelow, had a great 2012 season as well. Rumbelow, a 6-0 184 pound junior, threw 24.2 innings and finished with a 3.65 ERA in 29 appearances.

While many fans are more curious as to who the third starter will be for the Tigers, Mainieri feels that the key to success for LSU in 2013 is having a closer that can be effective late in games.

Mainieri explained that the differences between the 2011 and 2012 seasons hinges greatly on the effectiveness of his closer.

"What I am concerned with is whether or not we can close games out," said Mainieri. "All we have to look at is the difference between 2011 and 2012. You can really see how important the closers role is."

"In 2011 we lost nine games by one or two runs late in the game. That kept us from making any tournaments. Last season, we won most of our one-run games and won the SEC. That just shows how important that closers role is for us."

In addition to the two candidates for the closers role, Mainieri explained that one newcomer and another veteran have looked good so far this season, and will be relied on heavily when the season rolls around.

"Will LaMarche and Joey Bourgeois have looked good so far," said Mainieri. "Good performances by those two could allow us to put someone like Cotton or Rumbelow in the rotation."

"LaMarche is a guy that we want to handle a significant role. He has a big arm and he can make a big impact for us if he pitches the way that he is capable of pitching."

LaMarche is a junior-college transfer from Chabot College, that stands at 6-3 220 pounds. In the opinion of Mainieri, he could be the big fastball pitcher that the staff needs late in the game. LaMarche has touched 97 MPH, even after coming off of Tommy John surgery just a year ago.

The bottom line is the closer could be perhaps the most important role for the LSU pitching staff in 2013, and Mainieri believes that there are plenty of guys ready to step up and take on that role for the Tigers.

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