Change is coming to LSU’s weekend rotation ahead of this weekend’s series at Texas.
Eric Walker will start the series finale Sunday against the Longhorns, LSU coach Paul Mainieri announced Wednesday night.
Mainieri made the switch because freshman right-hander Jaden Hill experienced arm soreness after his start last Sunday. Hill won’t pitch at all this weekend, but LSU hopes it’ll be a short-term absence.
“Unfortunately, after Jaden had pitched so well, the next day his arm was a little sore,” Mainieri said. “We just decided we needed to give him a break and we’re going to go with Eric Walker.
Walker made his first start in 20 months in a 17-2 win over Southern on Wednesday night. He pitched two perfect innings and logged three strikeouts.
“I thought Walker was great today,” Mainieri said. “I was really anxious to see how he’d do in the second inning. The other day he great in the first inning, but once he sat down he wasn’t as sharp. This time he was just as sharp. That was very encouraging.”
“He’s ready to start again. I don’t know how extended he’ll be able to go though.”
That’s why LSU managed its pitching the way it did against Southern: Mainieri wanted both Walker and freshman right-hander Cole Henry available for Sunday.
Walker hasn’t gone beyond 2.1 innings yet this season, and Henry will pick up the slack if need be. Henry came in and worked two scoreless innings of his own once Walker departed.
LSU began practice this spring expecting Walker to be the Sunday starter, but Hill earned the job as Walker worked to regain his arm strength post Tommy John surgery.
Walker was supportive of Hill when they flip-flopped roles going into opening weekend. He hopes the rookie will do the same now that he’s retaking the job.
“Going into the season I sat down with Jaden,” Walker shared. “I told him, ‘Dude, this is such a complete staff, regardless of what role we’re in, I’m going to be your biggest supporter every time you throw and I hope you are mine every time I throw.'”
He continued: “When it comes down to competing for these roles, it really doesn’t matter to me. We’re going to rely on both of us, and I mean that in a very humble way. We’re both going to contribute to this staff.”
That may be true, but it’ll be Walker LSU needs on this upcoming Sunday in particular.