Last Friday was not a great day for two premier Southeastern Conference pitchers.
LSU ace Alex Lange did not make it out of the fifth inning of his start against Georgia, allowing 12 runners and seven earned runs in 4.1 innings of a game the Tigers eventually won 22-9.
Florida’s Alex Faedo, considered by some to be the top pitcher in college baseball, also left after 4.1 innings in the Gators’ SEC-opening loss to Auburn. Faedo walked six and allowed six runs before he was pulled.
Unsurprisingly, coaches for both programs were not overly concerned about their star pitchers.
“I have no doubt that Alex Lange will be out there (Friday) night competing as hard as he can with all the confidence in the world,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “I believe in him. Our team believes in him. I’m expecting him to go out and pitch a great game for us.”
Ditto from Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan, who expects rebound performances from both pitchers.
“I’d expect Lange to bounce back and I’d expect Alex (Faedo) to bounce back,” O’Sullivan said. “I’d be shocked otherwise.”
This isn’t the first time either has struggled this season.
Faedo allowed four runs in 4.2 innings against William & Mary in his season debut; he was pulled with his team trailing 4-1. The next week, he fell one out shy of a complete-game shutout against Miami.
Lange didn’t make it out of the second inning in a start against TCU, the shortest outing of his career. The issue then was the same as it was in last week’s outing against Georgia.
“It comes down to fastball command, like we’ve been talking about the entire career,” Lange said. “When you have poor fastball command in this league, you get hit. That’s what happened.”
Lange responded the next week by throwing eight superb innings against Wichita State, walking none and needing just 96 pitches.
This is LSU’s first true road series of the season, and although the sample size is small, the Tigers have not fared well away from Alex Box Stadium so far. They’re 0-2 in true road games, and 1-4 in games away from home.
The Gators have had similar trouble away from home, going 1-6 in road games. But they are 13-2 at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville.