The season hasn’t even started yet and Paul Mainieri is already shuffling with his starting rotation.
LSU will begin the season playing 10 games in a span of 14 days, and the coach unveiled the five-man starting rotation Thursday that’ll be in effect through at least the first two weeks.
Zack Hess will start on Opening Night against UL-Monroe with highly-touted freshman Landon Marceaux getting the ball against Army on Saturday, as expected.
That’s when the shuffling starts. Freshmen Jaden Hill and Cole Henry will start on Sunday against Air Force and on Tuesday against Southeastern, respectively.
Mainieri cited the face that both Hess and Eric Walker are on limited pitch counts as a primary reason for making the change. Walker will pitch in relief against ULM and start next Wednesday at Northwestern State.
“Hess, if everything is going well, I can’t imagine him going more than four innings,” Mainieri said. “I couldn’t imagine Walker going more than three innings.
“If we did Hess and Walker, it would’ve turned into two major bullpen games in one weekend. That would’ve stressed out bullpen a little bit too much.”
Marceaux and Hill are more stretched out than their veteran counterparts, according to Mainieri. Both will be on an 80-to-90 pitch count the first time through the order.
Mainieri insisted that the decision to move Walker’s start to Wednesday was in no way a demotion for the former Freshman All-American. However, there’s no set timetable for Walker to reclaim his Sunday spot.
The freshmen have also pitched well enough to earn the opportunity that’s been presented them.
Marceaux hasn’t allowed a run in intra-squad scrimmages this spring while Hill and Henry haven’t been far behind.
“Jaden Hill deserves it,” Mainieri said. “He’s pitched great. I think our team will have a lot of confidence in him and he’s a very poised young man.”