LSU fell short of Omaha in 2019 after an excellent season. They’ll have some key pieces to replace but are more than capable of making another run at a championship. We’ll take a look at how LSU goes into the 2020 season.
2019 Record: 40-26 (17-13)
Postseason: 0-2 vs Florida State in Super Regional
Perfect Game Recruiting Class: 19th
2020 Prediction: 4th in the West
The Tigers got off to an 8-0 start before being swept by Texas. LSU struggled in out of conference play a little in 2019, losing nine games and five in the midweek. Despite all that, they still went 17-13 in conference play which was more than enough to put them in the postseason.
The Tigers were eliminated in the SEC tournament in the semifinals by eventual winner Vanderbilt. They made a clean sweep of their own regional. But the Tigers hit a brick wall in Florida State in the Super Regional, losing game one 4-6 and game two 4-5 in 12 innings.
Notable Non-Conference Games
February 14-16: Indiana 37-23, 36 RPI
February 28: Texas 27-27, 65 RPI
February 29: Baylor 35-19, 32 RPI
March 1: Oklahoma 33-23, 43 RPI
LSU kicks off the season with a three-game series against Indiana. The Hoosiers were the 2019 Big Ten regular-season champs but went just 1-2 in the Louisville Regional.
The end of February finds the Tigers in the Shriners Classic in Houston, TX. They’ll get the trio of Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma as their Big 12 foes. Texas made quick work of the Tigers last year in a three-game sweep in Austin.
Baylor finished second in the Big 12 standings last year. They went to Los Angeles where UCLA was hosting the regional and went just 1-2. Oklahoma missed the NCAA Tournament once again and is still fighting to make it back.
SEC East Opponents
March 26-28: @ Tennessee
April 2-4: No.2 Vanderbilt
April 9-11: @ Kentucky
April 24-26: South Carolina
Not Playing: No.4 Florida, No.5 Georgia, Missouri
LSU got a favorable draw for their SEC East opponents. They get just one of the preseason top five teams in Vanderbilt, and they get the Commodores at home. Road series against two of the easier East opponents means the Tigers should hope to go at least 4-2 against the likes of Tennessee and Kentucky.
The final series against South Carolina is another home series that is very winnable. Overall LSU should be looking at at least seven or eight wins for these 12 SEC East games.
RHP Cole Henry: 4-2, 3.39 ERA
RHP Landon Marceaux: 5-2, 4.66 ERA
RHP AJ Labas: Redshirt (injury)
The rotation seems set at least for the opening weekend for LSU. The pitching staff was nothing special last year and had periods of struggles throughout the season. They will have to replace veteran Zack Hess and need some guys to step up to fill the roles.
Henry and Marceaux are a pair of right-handed arms that have ample experience between them. Both pitchers accumulated 58+ innings last season and have 25 starts between them. Henry struggled with injuries at times last season and has changed his approach in hopes to address that.
AJ Labas will take the Sunday spot. He sat out the 2019 season due to a shoulder injury but is reportedly back stronger than ever. His fastball is hitting 93 miles per hour and has improved greatly on his control.
Junior right-handed pitcher Eric Walker will likely be there to fill in the midweek start. The former Freshman All-American took a step back last season after coming off Tommy John surgery and having to sit out the 2018 season. Reports are that he’s looking more like his freshman self and could possibly be one of the best midweek starters in the league.
The LSU offense was a force to be reckoned with last year, ranking sixth in the SEC in batting average and fifth runs scored. They have three heavy bats to replace in Josh Smith, Antoine Duplantis and Zach Watson. The trio led the team in batting average in 2019.
The core is there to build a solid offensive lineup around. Catcher Saul Garza has the highest batting average of returning players after hitting .303 last year. Sophomore Cade Beloso had a monster freshman year after slashing .279/.339/.429 with 10 home runs. Look for him to build on those numbers.
Lefty Daniel Cabrera might be the best all-around hitter on the team. The local talent slashed .284/.359/.516 and tied Antoine Duplantis for most long balls on the season. He leads the returning players in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, home runs and doubles.
LSU has another solid returning group for the 2020 season. They have a realistic shot at being a host in the NCAA Tournament again. The biggest question mark will revolve around their pitching staff. The offense might not be as dominant as last season so the pitching will need to make up for it.
The core of the offensive lineup is now playing professional ball. They return a solid core to build around and have capable up and coming talent to fill in the holes. The Tigers look to be more balanced this year from a pitching/hitting perspective.
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