NOTEBOOK: Game 1 starter TBA

Paul Mainieri won't announce a starter for the opener until Thursday; Tigers familiar with Southeastern's ace; Weather forecasts are ugly for this weekend.

Paul Mainieri and pitching coach Alan Dunn haven't decided on their starter for LSU's regional opener Friday, and they won't announce one until Thursday.

So don't even bother asking.

"I know you all want answers about who we're going to pitch, but I just don't know yet," Mainieri said. "AD and I haven't even really discussed it at length."

Deciding on the regional pitching rotation isn't usually this complicated though, especially for the host.

Typically you'd see the team's third starter for that opener against an often-inferior four seed. Then they'd bring out the ace in that all-important Game 2, and assuming victory in both contests, that frees the No. 2 starter to wrap up the regional.

But this decision isn't so cut and dry.

First, Mainieri must consider the matchups. For example, Houston has a lineup heavy on left-handers that are aggressive on the base paths. That means a left-handed pitcher like Jared Poché would be the ideal counter.

But Mainieri admitted he needs a more detailed scouting report on both Houston and Bryant before basing his decision on that.

There's also the idea that Southeastern Louisiana can't be overlooked. The Lions will star their ace, Andro Cutura, who has a 1.72 ERA and 95 strikeouts this season. He's not a pitcher typically found on a No. 4 seed.

So Mainieri's a bit tempted to bring out his ace for that opening game.

"The first game is equally as important as the second game," Mainieri said. "If we had a really subpar four seed, it would be an easy thing to do. We can't do that. We have a tough opponent in Game 1, one that we'll have to pitch a very good pitcher against."



For three LSU players, they'll see a former teammate when Cutura takes the mound for Southeastern on Friday.

Sean McMullen, Kurt McCune and Chris Chinea played with Cutura on the Wareham Gatemen this past summer in the Cape Cod League. That familiarity might be to the Tigers' advantage.

Chinea knows him as well as anyone considering he caught him several times this summer.

"He likes to command the zone," Chinea said. "He's a gamer. He throws a lot of strikes and gets outs…He works his pitches. This summer, he had a fastball, cutter and changeup, and he had great command of all three."

The three Tigers have relayed their scouting report on Cutura to the other hitters with hopes that'll prepare them for Friday night.

And when all three were asked to describe his demeanor on the mound, they offered up the same evaluation — competitor.

"The main thing that separates him from other pitchers it that he loves to compete," McMullen said. "He has a different attitude when he's pitching and when he's not. He likes to goof around, but when it's time to pitch, he really puts the game face on."

"He's a jokester," McCune added. "But when he gets serious, he gets serious. He works hard. I wish him success, just not Friday night."


Mainieri may need to offer up a sacrifice to that Big Tiger in the Sky he thinks controls the weather.

Rain has had its way with LSU baseball this entire season, and this weekend looks to be another chapter in the team's battle with Mother Nature. Forecasts as of Tuesday afternoon call for a 70 percent chance of thunderstorms on Friday, 60 percent on Saturday and 40 percent on Sunday.

Considering LSU had a game against Louisiana-Lafayette shortened because of rain, and one against Alabama canceled altogether, Mainieri's understandably anxious about the weather.

"A little bit," he said. "I know these games won't get rained out though. We'll play until there's a winner, that's for sure."

The rain also gives him one more thing to consider when it comes to his pitching rotation. For example, he wouldn't want to start Aaron Nola in a game that's likely to get rained out midway through and have his ace wasted for the weekend.

"I can't tell you right now if it will or not [have an effect]," Mainieri said. "I can't tell you that I wouldn't consider something like that depending on what the forecast looked like."

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