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What Have We Learned Thus Far???

The Astros Classic (I still call it the Shriners Classic) serves as a great midway part of the pre-conference schedule report card time for the 2024 Tigers. Heading into its midweek game Wednesday against Southeastern Louisiana, I wanted to go through some things I have learned about Jay Johnson’s 2024 Tigers thus far.


The hard throwing right-hander has done nothing but prove LSU hit the jackpot in the Transfer Portal, nabbing him from the University of Alabama. Consistently hitting 91-93 on the radar gun, Holman has emerged as the best starting pitcher on the LSU staff. Through his first three starts of the season, he hasn’t allowed an earned run, shown pinpoint control with only two walks through 18 innings and has struck out 30. Holman showed his big game bona fides Friday night in front of a packed house at Minute Maid Park, striking out 12 Texas hitters and scattering three hits in 5.2 innings of work. Holman is a stud and deserves to continue to be the Friday night starter until proven otherwise. 


You just get a feeling that Jay Johnson and Pitching Coach Nate Yeskie are about ready to unleash Gage Jump fully to the world and when that happens watch out. Coming into the season, he was still off of Tommy John and his output was an inning here or an inning there. Saturday night against Louisiana-Lafayette, Jump threw a season-high 76 pitches in five innings of work. The opponent is irrelevant right now for Jump, he was mid 90’s throughout the start Saturday night and the curveball was downright nasty. When he’s on and once he’s fully unleashed, he has Friday night stuff without question. A Holman-Jump 1-2 combination can rival any starting rotation in the SEC. 


I wanna see more of Kade Anderson. Also coming off of Tommy John surgery like Jump, Anderson has started a pair of games in the midweek for the Tigers thus far this season and has looked impressive in both spots. But, going on the road against Rice, the true freshman showed that he is going to make his case for a weekend starting spot. Anderson consistently hits 94-95 on the radar gun and throws strikes (only one walk in the five innings against Rice). I’m fascinated to see if Johnson and Yeskie continue to build up his endurance and experience in midweek games or end up giving him a shot to grab one of the coveted weekend series spots. 


So much for that Josh Pearson second base talk at least for now. Through 12 games, you aren’t going to bench your best hitter as Milam is hitting .405  and has an on-base percentage of .520. He has shown he is more than capable of playing a consistently good infield. I love the moxy of Milam. He has a big explosive bat, can run and the switch hitting is going to be pivotal for how Jay Johnson uses him in the lineup. What I still have yet to figure out and I think Johnson hasn’t either is where in the lineup will Milam hit. I personally like him higher in the lineup because he can move baserunners over, he’s a smart hitter. 


Anthony Ranuado and I (I always wanted to say that), talked about this at length heading into the season. Who’s going to be Tommy White’s Tommy White in the lineup. A year ago White protected Dylan Crews and vice versa. LSU is still trying to figure out two things: where to hit White and who’s going to protect him. Take this past week for example: White hit third against Rice, with Josh Pearson behind and Milam in front; second against Texas with Paxton Kling in front and Neal behind; second against Louisiana-Lafayette, with Kling in front and Mac Bingham behind; and third against Texas State with Pearson in front and Neal behind. Personally, I like White in the two hole because simple math, the higher you are in the lineup the more at-bats you are going to get. In terms of protection behind him, I like Jared Jones there because of the power potential, but I think it’s going to end up being Neal. The biggest key in terms of protecting White in the lineup is whomever is going to bat leadoff. I think the answer is going to be Paxton Kling, but Kling has to continue to show he can get on base. The more often he gets on base, the less opponents are going to be able to pitch around Tommy Tanks. 

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