Coach Paul Mainieri is ready to test his entire pitching staff.
He’ll get the chance over the next few days.
LSU’s game against Southeastern Louisiana scheduled for Wednesday was moved to Thursday night, setting up a furious week and a half of baseball. The Tigers will play four games in four days, six games in seven days and nine games in 11 days. It’ll stress the pitching staff for the first time this year.
“You have to use a lot of different guys, which is a good thing. I feel right now that we’re 14 pitchers deep on our staff,” Mainieri said. “We need to run them out there to see what they can do.”
The torrid stretch of games begins with the Tigers (6-1) hosting the Lions (5-3) at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. The game was moved because of Wednesday’s rainy and cold weather.
It’s expected to be cold – but no wet – Thursday night when LSU’s Doug Norman and Southeastern’s Domenick Carlini take the mound.
The busy stretch of games gives Mainieri a chance to see how good his pitching depth really is. He wants to see his starters pitch through the sixth inning and, possibly, start to near the 100-pitch count mark in a start.
And he wants to fully work a bullpen that’s had success so far. Excluding Kyle Bouman, LSU relievers have allowed three earned runs through 26 innings pitched. But five relief pitchers have thrown less than three innings.
That’ll change over this nine-games-in-11-days stretch.
“Some guys have been patiently waiting their turn, and the more games you have in a short period of time, it forces you to use those guys,” Mainieri said. “A coach’s natural tendency is to use the pitchers they have the most confidence in, but how do you have confidence in a pitcher if he doesn’t get an opportunity to pitch?”
The busy stretch starts Thursday and ends with LSU’s game against Nebraska at the Houston College Classic on March 8.
In between, the Tigers host Princeton in a three-game set this weekend, host Sam Houston State and Grambling in midweek matches next week and head to Houston for games against Houston and Baylor.
“By the time we play Ole Miss, we should be pretty well into mid-season form,” Mainieri said. “I think it’s a positive thing for our team.”
Starting center fielder Andrew Stevenson will not play in Thursday’s game against Southeastern Louisiana as he rests a tweaked hamstring, Mainieri said.
Stevenson injured the hamstring in Saturday’s game against Boston College, and Mainieri said Monday that he’d play against Southeastern.
Right fielder Mark Laird is suffering from a minor hamstring injury, but is expected to play against the Lions.
Season ticketholders can use their Game 8 tickets meant for Wednesday’s game for Thursday. ... The weather might not be done wreaking havoc on LSU baseball this week. Sunday’s forecast calls for a 90-percent chance of rain. LSU could play a doubleheader with Princeton on Friday or Saturday as it did last weekend against Boston College.
LSU (6-1) vs. Southeastern Louisiana University (5-3)
WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Thursday
WHERE: Alex Box Stadium
RANKINGS: LSU is ranked as low as No. 8 and has high as No. 2. Southeastern Louisiana is not ranked.
- SLU, Jr. LH Domenick Carlini (0-0, 3.00 ERA) vs. LSU, Fr. RH Doug Norman (0-1, 7.71 ERA)
ONLINE STREAMING: Online only at SEC Network-Plus, which is accessible at SECNetwork.com and the Watch ESPN app
RADIO: WTGE, 100.7 FM in Baton Rouge and LSU Sports Network affiliates
IN-GAME UPDATES: @DellengerAdv, @BarrecaAdvocate
WHAT TO WATCH: Freshman right-hander Doug Norman will look to rebound after surrendering nine hits and five runs (four earned) in 4.2 innings pitched against Nicholls State. Southeastern Louisiana University brings an offense that is batting .285 as a team, including six batters hitting over .300, and a starter in Domenick Carlini who struck out 11 batters in five innings against Tulane last week.
IN THE HOLE: vs. Princeton, 7 p.m. Friday, Alex Box Stadium
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @DellengerAdv.