Austin Bain has occupied that spot in the rotation each of the last two weekends, but his performance against Mississippi State has Paul Mainieri rethinking it. Bain lasted only two innings against the Bulldogs, surrendering two runs on four hits with a pair of walks.
In his three SEC starts, Bain has given up 11 runs (seven earned) in 13 innings.
“Initially his velocity was way down. It picked back up, but at first I thought he had a sore arm the way he was throwing,” Mainieri said. “His command was never great, and his off-speed was just OK. When you’re not overpowering with your fastball, that’s not a good combination. So I’m a little bit concerned.”
That third starter has been a question mark through most of the conference season. Jake Godfrey was the first option but not the answer. He’s also been much more successful out of the bullpen, and Mainieri said that’ll be his role for the rest of the year.
Mainieri hoped Bain would be the guy to replace Godfrey in the rotation, but he too has left more to be desired.
So to whom will Mainieri turn if he does decide to make a change?
“I always feel like our ace in the hole is Jack Wholestaff,” Mainieri said. “We can go out there and just piece it together. We essentially did that on Saturday and gave ourselves a chance to win because of the performances of our guys out of the bullpen.”
STEVENSON SHOULD BE READY FOR WEEKEND
Andrew Stevenson strained his hamstring Friday, but Mainieri’s hopeful the LSU center fielder will be healthy by the weekend.
Stevenson came out midway through the second game of this weekend’s series and did not play in the finale.
“I’m glad we didn’t push the issue, because the last thing you want is that thing to be a nuisance the rest of the year,” Mainieri said.
Without a non-conference game this week, Stevenson will have a full week of rest before Missouri comes to town Friday. Mainieri expects that to be enough time for him to regain his health.
“Knock on wood, he’s progressing good enough that he’ll be ready to go Friday,” Mainieri said. “It was a similar tweak to one he had earlier in the year, and he was ready to play a week later.”
LATZ OFFICIALLY OUT FOR SEASON
Mainieri officially ruled out freshman pitcher Jake Latz for the rest of the season.
Latz hasn’t appeared in a game yet in his college career, still struggling with the arm issues he first experienced in the fall. Latz did return to the mound for bullpen work last week, but Mainieri said he isn’t improving quickly enough to factor into his pitching plans this year.
“He’s just not going to be ready to pitch,” Mainieri said. “That decision’s been made. You won’t see him pitch this season at all.”
Mainieri had set the May 12 game against New Orleans as a possible day for Latz’s debut. Had Latz been ready to throw then, there was a chance he could still make the Tigers’ postseason roster.
Mainieri said it’s clear he won’t be ready, so his attention has now turned to the summer. Latz was originally set to pitch in the Cape Cod League this summer, but Mainieri said they’ve pulled him from that. They’ll instead find a place for him somewhere else once he’s ready to go.
“We’ll just get him ready to pitch in summer ball and at worst in time for fall practice,” Mainieri said. “But I hope he’ll be able to pitch some this summer.”