Even though the freshman will assume the Friday night role this weekend, the weight of that move didn’t seem to register on him. It’s just another opportunity for him to go out and pitch.
“Whenever we get a chance to go out there, it’s a good time,” Lange said. “We’re not really worried about it. We just go out there to give our team the best chance to win in any situation.”
LSU coach Paul Mainieri said he’s considered moving Lange up in the rotation for “some time” now. He wanted to do it last week against Auburn, but Lange’s lingering fatigue from the previous start kept him off the field entirely.
Now with almost two full weeks of rest, the time is right to make the switch. But Mainieri also shared Lange’s indifference to the perceived pressure that comes with a Friday night start.
“If he’s capable of doing well, then he’s going to do well regardless of the night that it is,” Mainieri said.
That is something Lange thinks about.
“It’s really important to get that first win under the belt, really set the tone for the series,” Lange said. “It’s always good to start the series with a win, and that’s what I’m looking forward to doing.”
Mainieri said there were two reasons he opted to make this switch. Firstly, he wanted to get Lange, his “most dominant, power pitcher,” on the mound to start the series.
The other reason had to do with the player he replaced. Mainieri was very adamant this wasn’t a demotion for Jared Poché, who’s held the Friday night role all season. In fact, Poché could see his role expand.
Mainieri left open the possibility that Poché could come out of the bullpen Friday as a closer. It’s something Mainieri’s done in the past with guys like Louis Coleman and Jared Bradford.
“I wanted to strengthen our bullpen a little bit by having Poché available on Friday night, even if it’s for one inning,” Mainieri said. “It just adds another quality arm, literally one of our best pitchers, available for you to close the game.”
If Poché did make a brief appearance Friday, he would still be available to start Sunday’s game.
“Whatever he thinks is best for the team,” Poché said. “I’ve never closed before, so if I get an opportunity to do that on Friday night, it would be pretty cool. It would be a pretty good adrenaline rush.”
If Poché does get a chance to close, it would probably mean Lange left his start with a lead. Lange will only throw a maximum of 80 pitches or 6 innings — whichever comes first — while LSU eases him back.
He said he’s feeling 100 percent though and ready to toe that rubber once again.
“I’m ready, arm’s feeling good,” he said. “I’m just excited to get out there and start for the Tigers.”