Mason Katz digs the long ball
Katz has found the power stick this week, launching an absurd amount of home runs in the last six games. Since last Saturday's contest against Washington, Katz has hit seven homers with two multi-HR games. Between the Mississippi State series and the midweek game against Nicholls State, Katz hit four homers, which would have tied him for second on the team a year ago.
His nine HRs this season has put him square in the conference lead, and is only four shy of his SEC-leading total in 2012. With players like Mark Laird, Alex Bregman and Raph Rhymes consistently setting the table in front of him, Katz will drive in a ton of runs if he can maintain that power swing through the remainder of the season.
Andrew Stevenson, another solid freshman in the outfield
The true freshman has seemingly worked his way into an everyday role in the outfield. Stevenson started both Saturday and Sunday in CF and impressed most everyone with his speed defensively. He made difficult plays in the gap look effortless, a skill Paul Mainieri will love to take advantage of. With Laird playing in RF, there won't be much that falls in between this young duo.
While he'll obviously have some growing pains at the plate, Stevenson's defensive ability alone seems enough to play him everyday. Though Chris Sciambra will certainly fight to earn back his spot, Stevenson will need to maintain consistency in all aspects to stay a starter. But the amount of young talent in the OF is something LSU will love moving forward.
JaCoby Jones moving up in the order
Jones has been one of the more fluid players in LSU's lineup, hitting in three different spots in the order. Mainieri continues to find the best place for Jones, who's struggled to find his bat this season, though after two games this week, the leadoff spot may be the place for him. With usual leadoff man Chris Sciambra going through a slump of his own, Mainieri made an interesting move to put Jones atop the order, where he hit 22 times last season.
Though the switch started ominously with a K and GIDP by Jones in his first two ABs on Saturday, the junior slugger found his stride later in the game. He hit a pair of doubles that helped LSU cushion its lead in Game 2, then went 2-for-2 with a walk on Sunday, serving as one of the few Tigers to mount much offense against Mississippi State. Jones will still need to show some consistency if this move is to remain permanent, but his ability and athleticism would be a great weapon in the No. 1 spot.
Before I get into the negatives of Sunday, it's necessary to point out that LSU did win the series. Taking two out of every three games will result in a great season, but what happened on Sunday should be a huge eye-opener for LSU. Though the Tigers did most everything good on Friday and Saturday, they did most everything bad in the finale. The biggest issues of this team were exposed, which will be a point of concern moving forward.
Cody Glenn didn't perform well in his first SEC start (I'll speak more about him below) and the bullpen did little to minimize the damage. Both Nick Rumbelow, who's struggled with consistency this season, and Will LaMarche, who's shown little control to go with his mid-90s fastball, allowed the Bulldogs to continue piling on the run production and make an already ugly score uglier. Meanwhile, the offense mounted little threat against a good, but hittable, Kendall Graveman. Consistent hitting, the Sunday starter and middle relievers have been the biggest question marks of the team thus far, and on Sunday, all three were exploited.
Welcome to the SEC, Cody Glenn
Glenn wowed everybody through his first four starts of 2013. He earned his spot in the rotation and became one of the bigger surprises of this season. But the questions leading up to his SEC debut focused on how he'd handle a major step up in competition, especially on the road. Glenn didn't silence the doubters on Sunday, allowing six earned runs in 3 1/3 innings of work. He also walked three, hit a batter and sprinkled a pair of wild pitches in the mix. As a guy that won't strike out a lot of batters, he needs to have control in order to be effective. On Sunday, he was far from that as LSU found itself in an early hole it couldn't climb out of.
But let's not rush to judgment though, as even Aaron Nola had his worst outing as a Tiger in his SEC debut against Mississippi State. Glenn has showed some definite talent on the mound this season, and we should allow him to grow more comfortable with SEC competition before rushing to criticism. With LSU likely in line to win a lot of games on Friday and Saturday, that will take some pressure off Glenn, but fans will certainly want to see some improvement from him as SEC play progresses.
Where have all the designated hitters gone?
Through 20 games this season, LSU still hasn't found a consistent option at DH. Tyler Moore (against righties) and Alex Edward (against lefties) have split duty, and neither one has shined in that role. Moore has been serviceable with a .289 batting average, but Edward's .182 mark has done little for LSU's production.
It appears Mainieri has started to experiment with that spot against left-handed pitchers, as both freshman Chris Chinea and Chris Sciambra got a start as the DH this past weekend. It appears Sciambra has lost his spot in the outfield to Andrew Stevenson, so DH may be the role he finds on this team. He did go 2-for-4 on Sunday, but his struggles at the plate this season will do little to assure fans he's the ideal option. While LSU needs to find some consistency at the bottom of the order, finding a solid DH will be a main priority.
Three Up, Three Down
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