This year’s batting lineup is just not one that will write itself. The leadoff spot has been cursed, and whoever hits in the DH spot can stay hot for two games at the most.
When Coach Mainieri dreams, I am sure he sees Jacoby Jones playing like an All-American in the leadoff spot. Tyler Hanover probably handles the bat well for hit and run and bunts in the two hole. Austin Nola is able to protect Rhymes hitting fifth. Alex Edward is healthy and hitting well as the designated hitter. Finally, Arby Fields is a pest in the nine hole, turning the lineup over, and getting key hits.
Then Coach Mainieri wakes up. Nola has done a wonderful job the past two games in the leadoff spot. But the way things have gone this year you don’t expect him to stay hot there, and Coach Mainieri will probably have to shuffle someone else into that spot in a week. Maybe Edward will get things going now that he is healthy, but it is much more likely that Edward and Snikeris (righties) will platoon with Dozar and Moore (lefties). Of course, that won’t happen until Ross recovers from his appendectomy.
The strangest part of the season is that Coach Mainieri has surely wondered if he is dreaming watching Raph Rhymes season, but this weekend was a nightmare. Unfortunately, it shoes how much LSU counts on Rhymes. If Rhymes is human, the lineup does not have much bite. As I pointed out earlier is the season, it still baffles me that teams don’t pitch around him more since the rest of the lineup has not produced consistently.
These adjustments show the character of this team though. Guys have not pouted or sulked when moved around. It is clear that no one thinks of a spot in the batting order as “their” spot. Consequently, to their credit, they have taken advantage of opportunities whenever and wherever in the lineup they have come.
All of these examples are why Coach Mainieri deserves credit for generating so many wins in the SEC with such a weak lineup. A lineup, which for some reason, hits into an inordinate amount of double plays. On top of that, the Tigers have been winning in recent weeks despite average to below average starting pitching outside of Gausman. Once again, the three starting weekend pitchers are going to have to be great down the stretch. That means Nola and Eades cannot continue to make so many mistakes up and over the plate.
Usually after playing over 50 games, you know what to expect from a baseball team. At this point for Coach Mainieri, my guess is that he has learned not to get too comfortable.