Over the last three weeks the LSU Baseball team has gone from ranked in the top five nationally to struggling to qualify for the SEC Tournament. This week LSU fell victim to the Vanderbilt Commodores at home, which marked their third straight SEC series loss.
LSU has been losers of nine of their last eleven games due to an assortment of problems ranging from pitching, clutch hitting, defense, and a tough schedule.
The Tigers’ pitching problems have been the story all year long but it has been magnified in the last month. Tiger ace Anthony Ranaudo has been sidetracked from the beginning of the year with elbow problems and now he is battling control problems. He has not been himself and it has showed in his last couple of starts, getting shelled from the get-go.
The other problem has been finding a legitimate number two starter. Nobody has stepped up to take the place that Louis Coleman so brilliantly occupied last season. Not one pitcher has even come close. The Tigers have a bunch of arms and some experience in the pen, but absolutely no consistency from one game to the next.
LSU has also struggled at the plate, especially in the bottom half of their order. In fact, other than catcher Micah Gibbs, every Tiger hitter has slumped at the plate. This weekend it was right-fielder Mikie Mahtook, who is normally always a spark for the Tigers, but he didn’t collect a hit all series long. The 7-8-9 hitters, no matter who it has been, just can’t seem to come through in clutch situations. LSU routinely leaves multiple runners on base, and that coupled with the pitching staff giving up an average of eight runs in their last nine losses, has been reasons for this late season skid.
To a lesser extent, LSU has made some mental errors that have cost runs and possibly a chance at a couple of victories. The Tigers have also run into a couple of hot teams on their schedule, especially the Florida Gators, who is one of the hottest teams in college baseball right now. Ole Miss was due to have a big weekend and Vanderbilt was a team that has been battle tested. But that is no excuse for National Champions, and it will never be an excuse for Coach Paul Mainieri.
LSU has two more SEC series and is currently sitting in 7th place in the standings, with the top eight teams advancing to play in the SEC Tournament. LSU will travel to Kentucky and then will be at home to finish up the season against Mississippi State. If the Tigers can right the ship, they will be playing in Hoover. If not, it will be a major disappointment from a team who stood at 32-6 and top five in the country.