Three Up, Three Down

In this week's Three Up, Three Down, we examine how this past week was evidence the LSU rotation has become one of the nation's best. But the offense just still can't get it together as the Tigers have developed quite the knack for stranding runners on base.


The three-headed monster that is LSU's rotation

LSU's starting pitchers probably had the best week anyone's seen in quite some time. The three pitchers — Aaron Nola, Ryan Eades and Cody Glenn — didn't allow an earned run in 27 innings of work over the four games (Nola and Eades each surrendered an unearned run). Opposing batters hit just .163 against the trio, which combined for 28 strikeouts and only one walk — which Glenn issued Sunday against Nicholls State.

Though Glenn is still in an "auditioning phase" for the Sunday starter spot, it appears he's all but solidified his role in the rotation. Through three starts (two coming midweek), Glenn has not allowed an earned run (he has allowed one unearned run) in 19 1/3 innings of work. LSU has won all three of his starts, while batters have hit just .141 against him. He'll continue to adjust to the role, facing Washington this coming weekend, and Mississippi State will mark his first true test with a road game to open his SEC career. Eades and Nola have been as good as advertised to this point in the year, but LSU seems to have found the perfect complement to go along with the two other aces.

You can't keep Mark Laird off the base paths

The freshman has developed into quite the weapon, both offensively and defensively. Laird has become an incredibly reliable option near the top of the order. Laird has reached base in 10 consecutive games, only failing to get on in the season opener against Maryland. He's bumped his batting average up to .385, good for second on the team. He scored at least one run in three of LSU's four games this past week, and in the one he didn't (Sunday against Nicholls), he drove in one of LSU's only two runs of the game. With his speed, and an on-base percentage of .489, LSU has had quite the luxury of having him on the basepaths early and often in this season.

His speed has also paid off in the outfield. He leads the team in highlight reel catches, and his range into the gaps has saved many valuable runs. He started in CF on Sunday for Chris Sciambra, and prevented at least two runs from scoring on a hard-hit ball into the right-center gap. Though Sciambra is certainly a serviceable option in center, Laird's ability to cover ground may be something Paul Mainieri may consider if he wants to move Laird permanently to that position.

Alex Bregman as good as advertised

Coming in with lofty expectations to say the least, Bregman has lived up to the hype thus far. Bregman ranks second on the team with 12 RBI, and his .511 slugging percentage is good for third among everyday players. In the four games this past week, Bregman drove in a run in all but one game, including a career-high four against Louisiana-Lafayette on Tuesday. In the one game he failed to record a RBI, Bregman went 3-for-4, with a walk, and scored a pair of runs himself. And his fielding percentage is a perfect 1.000 to boot.

It's obviously still early in his career, and you must consider the sample size before rushing to any projections about what will happen over the next three years. But Bregman has been everything he's needed to be while starting at shortstop and hitting in the three-hole. It will certainly be fun to watch where his career goes from here, as he has plenty of still untapped potential.


Leaving the bases juiced

26. I want to let that number sink in for a little bit…

That's the number of runners LSU left on base in its two games against Brown from this past weekend, with Friday being the worst offense of wasted opportunities. LSU stranded at least one runner in all nine innings in the series opener, but it was the fifth through eighth innings that would have driven Mainieri to insanity had the Tigers lost. With LSU clinging to a 2-1 lead, the Tigers stranded two in the fifth, three in the sixth, two in the seventh and three in the eighth, as they watched their lead evaporate.

LSU did manage to produce a run in the eighth and ninth innings and pull out a walk-off victory, but it should have never been that close. With how stellar the starting pitching has been, LSU won't need much offense to win games — but it will need some. Leaving the bases loaded won't get that done, and the hitters will need to start stepping up more often in those clutch situations should LSU want to reach Omaha.

Brent Bonvillain and Nick Rumbelow not finding a groove

Two of the more dependable bullpen arms from a year ago, Bonvillain and Rumbelow were being counted on to make a bigger step forward in 2013. But neither one has really gotten a chance to shine so far. An oblique injury sidelined Rumbelow for the first two-and-a-half weeks of the season, but he is now back. He had a solid 2013 debut, only allowing one hit in an inning of work against ULL. But his second outing didn't go as well. He relieved Nola in the seventh inning and allowed a one-out double after striking out the leadoff man.

Bonvillain followed Rumbelow and allowed a RBI-single, then hit the next batter he faced. Bonvillain has found himself in between roles after opening the season as the Sunday starter. He was good, but not great, and has seen Glenn overtake him for that spot. Bonvillain likely belongs in the bullpen, but he'll need to show more consistency to really live up to his preseason expectations. Both pitchers should get an opportunity to bounce back as each will likely start LSU's two midweek games this week.

Chris Sciambra in a slump

Through Sciambra is one of the team leaders in walks, with nine on the season, his bat has fallen into a bit of a slump lately. Since going 2-for-4 against Lamar on Feb. 19, Sciambra has recorded just two hits since. This past week, he went a combined 1-for-12, with three strikeouts in the four games (he pinch-hit against Nicholls on Sunday).

Mainieri opted to play Sean McMullen on Sunday, but he said Sciambra's struggles at the plate had little to do with that decision. Sciambra is solid defensively, and his penchant for getting on base, whether via walk or HBP, should keep him in the lineup. But with the competition hot between the four outfielders (Raph Rhymes not included), Sciambra could see his starts shared more often.

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