Paul Mainieri’s made the switch.
The LSU coach will swap his weekend rotation to open SEC play, sending reigning National Freshman of the Year Alex Lange to the mound on Friday and Jared Poche on Saturday against Alabama this weekend in Alex Box Stadium.
“I just feel he’s ready for this,” Mainieri said following Wednesday’s 9-4 win against UNO. “Opening night in the SEC’s going to be very electric and I think he’s our top guy. He has our best chance to go out and dominate a game. I felt like he made a big step forward this last game.”
John Valek III will keep his Sunday role.
Lange’s had an inconsistent start to his season, issuing three walks in each of his first four starts. Mainieri said he was going to make the move in the Ball State series, but Lange’s off night against Fordham on March 5 — where he gave up a career-high five earned runs — gave him pause.
“I thought ‘Eh, maybe it’s not the right time yet, let him get back into the groove a little bit,'” Mainieri said. “And then he did. He got some big outs against Ball State on Saturday and he’s ready to make the transition and lead us on the weekends. I think it’s the right thing to do.”
Poche slides to a familiar Saturday role, one he occupied throughout his freshman season behind Aaron Nola and some of last season behind Lange.
The Lutcher junior was LSU’s opening night starter and allowed just two earned runs through his first three starts of the season before issuing four home runs to Ball State last Friday in a 7-1 loss.
“I think Alex is ready. I think actually by coming back on a day’s rest earlier that it might actually help his command, getting out there more frequently,” Mainieri said. “And he’ll do the same again next week against Texas A&M. His bullpen that he threw yesterday was the best bullpen he’s had command-wise. Maybe there’s something to it, he gets out there a little bit quicker and maybe his control will be a little bit better.”