‘Zero concern’ for LSU pitcher Alex Lange, who may be ‘rushing’ after two atypical outings _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- LSU starting pitcher Alex Lange (35) pitches against Sacramento State, Saturday, February 27, 2016, LSU's Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field in Baton Rouge, La.

The Twitter mailbag will run every Tuesday morning during baseball season, but questions are welcomed throughout the week @Chandler_Rome. Follow along for analysis and coverage throughout the season and, if you feel so inclined, ask away.

To answer your question, Alex Lange isn’t coming out of the weekend rotation any time soon, unless he’s injured. Both Alan Dunn and Paul Mainieri were adamant they had zero concern about Lange following his last two outings where he’s allowed eight earned runs and six walks. Lange’s struggles have stemmed mostly from a lack of fastball command early in counts and the inability to pitch ahead in the count.

Alex Lange's two straight subpar starts don't concern his coaches.

Alex Lange’s two straight subpar starts don’t concern his coaches.

In that story linked above, Dunn and Lange both pointed to rushing when things aren’t going well. As Dunn explained it, having a “get the ball and go” rhythm when a pitcher is pitching well — as Lange did in the first two innings of Saturday’s start — is common. What’s also common for pitchers, and dangerous, is doing the same when things don’t go well, leading to a snowball effect, which happened to Lange in a few innings on Saturday. Remember, too, that Lange’s velocity was normal — 93-94 mph with his fastball and low 80s with his secondary stuff — and even in the two subpar starts, he struck out 15 in 10.2 innings pitched.

In our conversation, Dunn also reminded that of Lange’s 20 LSU starts, seven were not classified as “quality” — when a pitcher goes at least six innings and allows no more than three runs.

“And that’s not being negative,” Dunn said. “That’s being realistic (that) the game happens like that. You’re not going out and throwing seven, eight, nine (innings) even though we thought because he was 12-0 he did that, there were games when that didn’t happen.”

Good question. Both are draft eligible juniors and seen as the most likely threats to leave early. When Paul Mainieri named Poche his opening night starter, he said he did so, in part, because it would “likely be (Poche’s) last season at LSU.” Poche’s family reiterated a similar stance to my colleague, Ross Dellenger, who wrote this from Poche’s Feb. 27 start against Sacramento State.

Poche is rated Baseball America’s No. 34 college draft prospect.

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- LSU center fielder Jake Fraley (8) catches a long fly ball in the fifth inning of LSU's 12-4 win over Cincinnati

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS — LSU center fielder Jake Fraley (8) catches a long fly ball in the fifth inning of LSU’s 12-4 win over Cincinnati

The topic has never been broached with Fraley and I want to shy away from making declarations or assumptions without speaking to him. Fraley is No. 27 on Baseball America’s list of the Top 100 college draft prospects. That comes with a bit of a caveat, though. Teddy Cahill, who covers college baseball for Baseball America, called the 2016 draft “a banner year for college outfielders” and said it could rival the 2009 draft when nine college outfielders were taken in the first two rounds.

There are six college outfielders ranked ahead of Fraley in Baseball America’s rankings, which you can see here.

Yes. O’Neal Lochridge has shown a knack to make the routine play, which as we’ve discussed before, is all Paul Mainieri requests from his brand new infield. Lochridge’s journey around the infield has been chronicled in depth — he was moved from third base early in spring to relieve some pressure and has been playing more carefree and relaxed since Mainieri moved him back and inserted him into the starting lineup.

Lochridge’s offense has dipped a bit since his torrid, home run-filled beginning, but the power he possesses and consistent defense are enough to keep him on a very thin left side of the infield.

Paul Mainieri all but guaranteed the middle of the infield is set with Kramer Robertson at shortstop and Cole Freeman at second base. You are correct, both have looked very comfortable in their new positions and both have already turned in jawdropping plays.

First base is the only position still somewhat in limbo, compounded by Bryce Jordan’s ankle injury. Greg Deichmann, the opening day starter, will get all the reps there this week with Jordan out for the midweek and questionable for the weekend.

These are purely my predictions:

  • Home Runs: Jake Fraley
  • RBI: Beau Jordan
  • Batting Average: Antoine Duplantis

Ah, the weekly Jake Latz question.

There is actually a bit of news on this front. We reported Friday that Latz is throwing at 90 percent from 105 feet away to a crouching catcher on an every other day basis. Trainer Cory Couture told me after his Friday session that he’s encouraged by Latz’s progress, just as Paul Mainieri did last week, but they both stressed how slow the process is. All are still shooting for an April return and, if that comes, he could make an impact right away.

Cole McKay’s gotten two recent opportunities to close blowouts in the ninth inning and has run into some two-out trouble both times. Alan Dunn traces his troubles, again, to a lack of fastball command, which is common for the true freshmen on his staff. If you just look at McKay, he’s 6-foot-5 and has the build to be a really good arm. He, like most of his classmates, is still learning the intricacies of the college game and will get some more opportunities to show what he can do.