Three Up, Three Down

The Tigers rolled through a four-game week with a win against Tulane and a sweep of Missouri. Mason Katz continued his power surge, but some serious inconsistency remains at the bottom of the lineup. A poor performance from Cody Glenn has the Sunday starter up for grabs, and TSD's Hunter Paniagua breaks it all down in this week's Three Up, Three Down


Mason "Gorilla Ball" Katz

Mason Katz continues to bring the power to the LSU lineup, and he's been rewarded handsomely for his efforts. Katz picked up his second SEC Player of the Week award on Monday after hitting .611 (11-for-18) in four wins last week, including homers in each of the three games against Missouri. That power streak brought his season total to 13, which matched his production from a year ago.

With one more HR, he'll tie former teammate Mike Mahtook — who hit 14 in both 2011 and 2010 — for the most homers hit in a season with the new composite bats. Hitting behind consistent bats like Mark Laird, Alex Bregman and Raph Rhymes, Katz has had his opportunities to drive in runs, and he already has 49 RBI this season. Katz' early power surge may have been a surprise to some, but his continued consistency has made it a mainstay of the LSU lineup.

McMoving on up

Sean McMullen is moving up the LSU lineup and appears to have solidified a spot at the top of the order. Since the beginning of the season, Paul Mainieri has looked for a reason to move McMullen into the everyday lineup. As Mainieri continued to search for both a consistent DH and leadoff man, he has ultimately called upon McMullen to fill both roles.

McMullen got that chance this past weekend, hitting leadoff on Saturday and Sunday. He went 3-for-7 (with two walks) at the plate in those games, and did drive in a pair of runs on Sunday. His speed will be a great weapon from the left side for LSU, though Mainieri still wonders if he'll be able to use him against left-handed pitching. He may get more chances to alleviate that concern this weekend, as Kentucky will bring three left-handed starters to the mound.

Return of The Cune?

A familiar face may return to the LSU pitching staff in the coming weeks. Kurt McCune threw his first full bullpen session Monday after fracturing a vertebra in his back early this season. McCune appears close to full health and should return to the pitching staff by the midweek game next week. At the very least, McCune will help shore up a bullpen that has struggled with consistency in the middle innings. But McCune may even have an opportunity to work back into the rotation, which I will discuss below.


Two strikes for Cody Glenn

I've mentioned Cody Glenn in this column more than any other player on this team, both as an "Up" and a "Down." Now, it appears he might be a "Down" for good. After his second poor SEC start this past Sunday, allowing five earned runs in 1 2/3 innings against a team that entered the series hitting .250, his spot in the rotation may be at stake. Mainieri said Glenn will likely pitch again this Wednesday in order to gain some confidence back, but it looks like his leash may be short and LSU may be looking at other options.

Glenn was the surprise of the early season, but questions remained about how he'd handle the pressures of SEC play. His two starts on the road against Mississippi State and Missouri did little to reassure fans, and he still appears to have room to improve. Brent Bonvillain may get a chance to return to the rotation, and McCune could even sneak back in there after spending the entire season on the sideline with an injury.

…Because 7-8-9

Spots 2-through-6 in the LSU lineup have been brilliant thus far. Laird, Bregman, Rhymes, Katz and Ibarra have been the leaders of the offense this season, and their production is a big reason for LSU's success. But it would be naïve to expect they maintain that play through the remainder of the season, which will make the bottom of the order all the more important.

The 7-8-9 hitters, JaCoby Jones, Ty Ross and Andrew Stevenson have done little to raise confidence that they can shoulder the offensive load, as all three are hitting below .200. The trio combined to go just 1-for-31 at the plate against Missouri this past weekend, the lone hit coming from Jones on Saturday. The offensive struggles were expected from Stevenson, a freshman who has only recently worked his way into the everyday lineup. But more was expected from Ross and Jones, and their struggles are troubling considering they have MLB aspirations after this season. While the heart of the order has carried LSU offensively to this point, the bottom three will need to pick things up in order for this team to reach its potential.

Alex Bregman can't be perfect…yet

As much as I don't want to criticize freshman-phenom Alex Bregman, there is a stat that's been troubling for quite some time. After a pair of errors this weekend, Bregman has recorded seven, leading to a team-worst .941 fielding percentage. Sure it may seem like a small blip in the otherwise-stellar season Bregman has had, but it at least points out an area in need of improvement.

Bregman had the unenviable task of replacing Austin Nola at shortstop, and compared to him, nothing will ever truly fill that gap. But with all the expectations Bregman held entering this season, including all the success he's had at the plate, his defense is something he'll need to pick up moving forward. But he has all the world's talent, and I doubt it will be an issue much longer.

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