State of the Ace: Holman Shuts Down Texas at Minute Maid

Luke Holman impressed against Texas, while Santucci, Smith, and Yesavage were their usual dominant self.

LSU's Luke Holman

Welcome to State of the Ace, a Saturday morning look at the best performances by Friday starters throughout the country.

It was a matchup of two preaseason Golden Spikes Award watch list candidates in Houston — Texas’ Lebarron Johnson Jr. and LSU’s Luke Holman — and the Tigers’ righthander put on a show in a 6-3 win.

Holman held Texas off the board over five and two-thirds innings, racking up 12 strikeouts and limiting the Longhorns to just three hits and one walk. The transfer from Alabama has yet to be scored on in 2024, piling up 30 strikeouts and a miniscule 0.56 WHIP across 18 innings of work.

Thanks to the game being played in Minute Maid Park, Statcast data was available to dissect Holman’s outing. He turned in a sterling 40% CSW (called strikes + whiffs) and averaged 92 mph on his fastball, which generated 10 whiffs.

He found great results with his fastball, his slider, and his curveball. The slider generated five swinging strikeouts and generated a 48 oSwing% (swings at pitches outside the zone), while his fastball accounted for four strikeouts and was thrown over half the time. Finally, the curveball was a nasty third pitch that picked up a trio of Ks.

Replacing Paul Skenes at the front of the LSU rotation was never going to be easy, but shifting Holman up to that spot after back-to-back Saturday starts is a move that figures to stick. He looked the part of a high-end No. 1 that will make Friday’s difficult for any opponent.

Let’s look at some of the other top pitching performances from Friday:

Trey Yesavage (East Carolina) vs. Purdue (W) 8 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 11 K. After piling up 11 strikeouts against then-No. 15 North Carolina, Yesavage had little trouble against Purdue. He logged a career-best eight scoreless innings and did so on 103 pitches, setting down 10 in a row at one point. Back-to-back quality starts and a 30:5 K/BB ratio across 18 IP this year.

Caden Favors (Wichita State) vs. Utah Tech (W) — 9 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 10 K. One of two complete-game shutouts on Friday night saw Favors dealing against Utah Tech. He fanned 10 and got another 10 groundouts, scattering five hits and a walk. Favors has made the move to the bullpen smoothly this year as he’s piled up 25 strikeouts and just four walks across three starts — including a quality start vs. Virginia.

Jonathan Santucci (Duke) vs. Akron (W) — 6 IP, H, 2 BB, 14 K. Man, having Santucci back from injury makes this Blue Devils team a force to be reckoned with. They had to throw the kitchen sink at the schedule last year with a plethora of relievers, but Santucci is a luxury in that Friday role. A brisk 82-pitch outing in which he struck out two-thirds of the batters he faced and moved to 3-0.

Duke Baseball Video

Nick Martins (George Mason) vs. Fairfield (W) — 9 IP, 3 H, BB, 4 K. It hasn’t been a great start on the mound this year for George Mason, but Martins steadied the ship against Fairfield. Spun a Maddux, throwing a complete game on less than 100 pitches.

Noah Edders (Bradley) vs. Omaha — 8 IP, 3 H, BB, 10 K. Omaha stayed out of the win column to start the season thanks to Edders, a redshirt-sophomore righthander that scattered three hits and a walk over eight scoreless. It was a nice bounce-back after UNLV tagged him for seven runs on seven hits last weekend.

Mike Ruggieri (Army) vs. Louisiana Tech (ND) — 7 IP, H, BB, 6 K. The Black Knights came close to handing Louisiana Tech its first loss in no small part due to Ruggieri, who dazzled over seven innings. He allowed just three baserunners — and was aided by a pair of double plays — while fanning six in the no-decision.

Hagen Smith (Arkansas) vs. Murray State (W) — 6 IP, H, R, BB, 12 K. The first hitter to step in against Smith teed off for a solo home run, but that was it for the Racers as the junior quickly settled in. Add another 12 strikeouts to his prolific tally as his last two outings have gaudy numbers: He’s fanned 29 of the last 42 batters (69%) he’s faced.

AJ Causey (Tennessee) vs. Bowling Green (W) — 7 IP, H, R, BB, 9 K. Causey is a ton of fun to watch on the mound — it’s a funky arm angle that makes hitters uncomfortable in the box. He gave up a solo home run in the second, but that was it as he quickly settled in. Causey retired the last 11 batters he faced.

Here’s a look at the top 20 performances from Friday, by Game Score (this list may be updated pending stat syncs.) For more pitching data, check out our weekend rotation and team stat pages.

Top Game Scores (Friday, March 1)
PlayerTeamOppDecIPHRERBBSOGame Score
Trey YesavageEast CarolinaPurdueW8.020021187
Caden FavorsWichita St.Utah TechW9.050011086
Noah EddersBradleyOmahaW8.030011085
Nick MartinsGeorge MasonFairfieldW9.03001484
Jonathan SantucciDukeAkronW6.010021482
Will PyorBelmontLittle RockND7.030021180
Mike RuggieriArmy West PointLouisiana TechND7.01001680
AJ CauseyTennesseeBowling GreenW7.01111979
Hagen SmithArkansasMurray St.W6.011111277
Aidan MajorWest Virginia@ Western Ky.W7.02001577
Michael FoltzGeorge WashingtonUAlbanyW7.02000477
C.J. WilliamsFla. AtlanticStonehillW7.04002976
Matt ScottStanford@ RiceW6.011121276
Brennan StuprichSoutheastern La.Cal St. FullertonW7.03001575
Niko MazzaSouthern Miss.Indiana St.W7.03111874
Ben HessAlabama@ IndianaW5.010011074
Sebastian GongoraLouisvilleYoungstown St.W6.031011073
Nick PintoUC IrvineSan DiegoW7.04111973
Luke HolmanLSU@ TexasW5.230011272
Ryan PragerTexas A&MArizona St.W5.01002871

Featured Image via LSU Athletics