It’s time — like actually 100 percent for real this time — for the big man from Brooklyn to take the mound.
Freshman right-hander Nick Storz will make his debut and start against Tulane on Wednesday night, LSU coach Paul Mainieri gleefully announced Tuesday.
“The long-awaited debut of the big man from Brooklyn will happen tomorrow,” Mainieri said. “We’re excited about that. Everything has gone well. He feels 100 percent, and it’s time. It’s just time.”
Storz will only pitch an inning or two in his debut, the coach said, much like when fellow freshman AJ Labas made his debut a few weeks ago. Labas will then take over and pitch extended innings, provided he’s throwing well.
The start has obviously been a long time coming for Storz, who was slated to start two weekends ago but couldn’t due to shoulder fatigue. A slight lessening of his between-outings workload has the heralded rookie feeling much better now.
“I’m excited for it,” Storz said. “We talked about it a few weeks ago, and you kind of get your hopes up thinking it’s going to happen, and for it to actually happen, it’s exciting. I’m looking forward to the opportunity.”
The return of Storz could be the final missing piece of a pitching staff that’s made marked improvements since a rocky start to the season.
It’s unclear what his eventual role will be — Mainieri said he’ll make the trip to Vanderbilt this weekend if all goes well Wednesday and could be available out of the bullpen — but there’s a palpable anticipation to see what the 6-foot-6, 255-pound New Yorker can do once he cuts it loose in a real game.
Storz isn’t overly concerned with his velocity this early in his return from shoulder surgery last fall, but said he’s been clocked at 95 mph in bullpen sessions. That’s eye-opening on a team that doesn’t have much in the way of flamethrowers outside of Zack Hess.
“I keep hearing good things about him,” outfielder Antoine Duplantis said. “He’s a big guy and I’m sure he’ll be throwing decently hard, and our pitchers are already doing decently well, so it’d be nice to see another guy who brings something to the table.”
“I’m really excited (to see Storz),” first baseman Austin Bain added. “I’ve watched some of his live BPs and he’s looking really well. I can’t wait to see what this kid is going to do for us.”
The wait to see Storz pitch is almost over. The endless speculation of what he and his powerful right arm could bring to the LSU staff has just begun.