While there might be a wave of kneejerk reaction among LSU baseball fans when it comes to sophomore pitcher Ryan Eades, the one person who isn’t panicking is pretty key.
Seems Eades himself isn’t ready to scramble his approach or start from scratch, despite another less than stellar start Saturday at Ole Miss.
That makes four starts in the last five when the Tigers’ No. 2 starter has not thrown well. In those four outings, he hasn’t gotten to the 5th inning in three and he has surrendered 4 runs in all four games.
Eades is still 5-2 this season with a 3.62 ERA. But his ERA in the last five games in 7.14 and that includes a sterling outing vs. Alabama when he allowed only 2 hits and 1 run.
A big problem in a 4-inning stint against Ole Miss in a 7-4 loss on Saturday (Eades was not involved in the decision) was falling behind hitters. Of the 21 Rebels Eades faced, 19 either hit from ahead or even in the count or they jumped on the first pitch.
|Ryan Eades: 1-1 with a 7.14 ERA in his last five starts|
The result was 8 hits allowed and a 4-1 lead coughed up before Eades ever got to the 5th.
Eades’ velocity was in the low 90 mph range at Swayze Field, with an occasional pitch touching the 94-95 range. But there wasn’t much movement on his fast balls, and that, coupled with falling behind hitters, left him vulnerable against a team with veteran hitters.
“I just think the main thing is I need to start working ahead to hitters more,” Eades said Monday. “That’s what I haven’t been doing a good job of doing. I’ve been putting hitters in hitters’ counts and they can sit on a pitch and can wait for the pitch to be right where they want it.”
That leads to aggressive swings and better bad speed, especially when Eades is relegated to coming at SEC-caliber hitters with a fast ball as his last resort.
Which begs the question: Is Eades grappling with confidence right now – is he tentative about throwing any of the three pitches he relied on early in the season?
At times, that seems to be the case, especially to begin a hitter’s at-bat and when he when he has gotten two strikes on hitters. In his last 22.2 innings, Eades has recorded only 9 strikeouts, just one apiece in his four rocky starts. Prior to his swoon, Eades had notched 39 Ks in 37 innings.
“I still feel comfortable with all my pitches,” Eades said. “It’s more just more about getting that first-pitch strike and working ahead. I need to get that back and execute that way this weekend.”
It won’t hurt this weekend against Vanderbilt or next against South Carolina that Eades the Tigers step away from facing the best offensive teams in the SEC.
|Eades: 'I still feel comfortable with all my pitches. It’s more just more about getting that first-pitch strike and working ahead.'|
Eades’ four rough outings have come against Florida, Kentucky, Georgia and Ole Miss. The Gators, Wildcats and Rebels are at the top of the league stats (along with LSU and Auburn) in team average and runs scored this season.
“In this league, against the kind of hitters you face, no matter how hard you throw or how good your slider or secondary stuff may be, if you get behind the count they’re going to make you pay,” Eades said. “Whoever you face in this league, everybody has a good offensive team and swings the bat well. You have to execute your pitches and hit your spots to get the results you want.”
What Eades wants – what LSU needs – in the final two weekends is a step back in the right direction before SEC and NCAA tournament play begins. That’s when the Tigers need Eades back to the reliable starter between Kevin Gausman and Aaron Nola if they intend to make a run.
And it all starts with Saturday’s start against Vanderbilt.
“I’m just going to put what’s happened to this point behind me and work hard this week and on this game and stay focused on that,” he said.