LSU has picked its starting rotation for the opening series against Indiana.
The Tigers will pitch sophomore Cole Henry during the season opener next Friday night, sophomore Landon Marceaux on Saturday afternoon and redshirt sophomore AJ Labas on Sunday.
LSU began preseason practice with Henry pegged as its likely Friday night starter, but coach Paul Mainieri wanted time to choose between Marceaux and Labas for the second spot. He picked Marceaux as the Saturday starter because of his experience in important games.
"They're both so close in abilities," Mainieri said. "It could have very easily been the other way around."
LSU has not yet picked its midweek starter. Mainieri expects to use almost the entire pitching staff during the first series, so LSU will evaluate who's available before it plays its first midweek game.
"You don't expect your starting pitchers to go deep into the game opening weekend," Mainieri said. "So I have the feeling we're going to be using virtually everybody out of the bullpen, if necessary."
Though injuries derailed the end of his freshman year, Henry finished last season as LSU’s ace, starting Game 1 of the NCAA Super Regional. He exited after two innings because a nerve issue prevented him from making a fist and caused his arm to shake. The nerve healed over the summer.
Henry went 4-2 last season with a 3.39 ERA. He struck out 72 batters and issued 18 walks. The draft-eligible sophomore received third-team preseason All-American from D1Baseball.
Marceaux ended his freshman year as LSU’s second starter. After struggling with injuries and confidence most of the season, Marceaux went 2-0 with a 1.99 ERA over his last five starts. He lost 15 pounds during the off-season and changed his primary breaking ball into a slider with more depth.
“I thought Game 2 is such a pivotal game in a weekend series that we ought to go with a guy that had a little bit more experience,” Mainieri said.
Labas missed last season after shoulder surgery. He returned with more velocity, and Mainieri said Labas pitched better than anyone during fall practice. Labas started 10 games his freshman year with three relief appearances. He went 6-2 with a 3.48 ERA.