TIGER RAG Q&A: Brady Wiederhold

Editor's Note: Brady Wiederhold is in his third season as the LSU pitching coach. While the Tiger hurlers struggled earlier in the year, Wiederhold has developed the SEC's two best pitchers in Clay Dirks and Greg Smith. Wiederhold talks about his weekend rotation as well as the travails of senior Lane Mestepey and the development of his bullpen heading into the postseason.- MD

Q: What is going with Lane Mestepey? After pitching well earlier this year, he has struggled over the last month.


Wiederhold: Mechanically everything is fine. It is more or less a confidence issue now. A perfect example right now for him is a hitter in a hitting slump. We see that clearly all the time. A guy that is not swinging the bat like we have seen him do in the past and for whatever reason he gets into that slump.


Then they press and try to do too much and at this point that is what Lane is doing right now. Everything is magnified so much and he is trying so hard to be perfect and make the perfect pitch instead of just playing his game, making his pitches and having whatever happens happen. He has run into some bad luck to throughout the little stretch that he has been bad. But you have to remember early in the season, Lane was the guy that was taking us deep into games and keeping it close when we weren't getting some performances out of some other guys and we weren't swinging the bats like we have been recently.


He was a mainstay for us and the guy has been a rock for us for four years. He is second all time on the wins list and you have to give the guy credit for that. He struggled a little bit for us last year, but bounced back there at the end. He has been in the wars and knows what it takes to sustain a career at LSU for four years and he deserves to keep on being in there and working his way through it.


Unfortunately for a pitcher, when a hitter is going through a slump, you are back out there the next day and you can go at it for three or four more trips the next game. Being a pitcher, that is a lot more difficult because you only throw once and you don't throw again until the next week that is unless you are a reliever type guy. So that weighs on you when you have time off. But I have all the confidence in the world in him.



Q: How frustrating has it been for Justin Meier not getting to pitch as much as he has in the past?


Wiederhold: Justin deserves to pitch more. He has done well for us when he has come in to games. He did a great job versus Rice. We haven't needed a lot of guys (to come in) here recently and that is a big key. That can be good and bad. The guys coming out of the bullpen haven't got a lot of work and really Jason Determann, (Jordan) Faircloth and a few others have come in when it's tight. You want to hold Justin for that right matchup against right-handed batters and when we have been in those situations where the game was going one way or the other where we didn't need to use him. He deserves the opportunity to pitch, but it is also a good problem to have when your guys are throwing complete games and going deep into games. That is kind of where he has been lately.



Q: Could you expound on the performance of Clay Dirks and Greg Smith over the past three weekends?


Wiederhold: I would like to get that all the time. They have done a very good job of just competing. They have really took it upon themselves and I know you have heard this from coach (Skip) Bertman and I k now Smoke (Laval) uses it as well, but they approach the game with a pitch by pitch mentality and they really have started to do that.  It is all about the next pitch, the next batter, the next inning.


It is not about necessarily going seven or eight innings. They are challenging guys early in the count. The teams that we have faced in the last couple of weekends – Arkansas and Vanderbilt – they have been very aggressive hitting teams. They swing the bats in the first couple of pitches. So on Clay and Greg's behalf, they have made quality pitches early in the at-bats and haven't had to go to too many deep counts. Greg Smith threw 97 pitches or there about Sunday (versus Vanderbilt) and the week before it was just over 100 (versus Arkansas) and just over 100 the week before that (Ole Miss), so he is throwing complete game throwing 90 something pitches.


They are commanding their fastballs. That is the biggest thing. They are challenging guys and working off the fastball instead of pitching backwards which is what a lot of teams do especially in the SEC with the strong lineups and the number of talented hitters. But we have taken a little different approach and work off the fastball rather than vice versa.



Q: With your starting pitchers going so deep in games and now not having the luxury of playing anymore midweek games, how do you feel about your bullpen heading into the postseason?


Wiederhold: I feel good about them. One thing that those guys normally do is come in and throw strikes. When you come out of the bullpen, you have to do that. Jason Determann has made a living doing that the last couple of years, he just doesn't walk anybody. He comes in, throws strikes and competes and challenges guys. That is what those guys do. They are going to come into the game, throw strikes and let the defense work for you. Eric English doesn't throw as hard as Edgar Ramirez, but he does come in and throws his three or four pitches for strikes.


And like Greg and Clay, he competes against the batter one pitch at a time. I feel good about those guys. Justin Meier is another guy. He can be either or, that is start or bring him in out of the bullpen later on when we get into the postseason. Obviously we would like to get those guys so more game action, which is kind of tough when you are getting the performance out of the other guys like we are, but that is what we face. However, these guys are facing a pretty healthy lineup in intrasquad games playing against ourselves so they are getting quality chances.



Q: Although things didn't turn out well for Brandon Nall against Tulane, what did he take away from that experience throwing against the No. 1 team in the country on national television?


Wiederhold: I think that is going to mean a heck of a lot down the line for him. You have to realize the guy, for two years, barely picked up a baseball. He was doing his rehab, throwing a little bit then his shoulder would bother him. Then he would back off and try again. It was really back and forth. But it (Tulane game) really meant a lot. Tulane is a very good team this year, so facing a team of that magnitude in that atmosphere is going to pay off down the line and take some of the doubt out of whether or not he can compete at that level.


And he did make some quality pitches that night. Obviously it didn't turn out the way we had wanted it to, but he made some good pitches, but his consistency is what we have to get back. When you throw from the angle from which he throws at and as hard as he throws, it takes a while for him to get back that good feel and the confidence.  

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