Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

2023 CWS Finals: LSU Wins!


Requisite dogpile post-win image via usatoday

The Final of the 2023 CWS couldn’t have featured two better teams for the marquee matchup of the year. Florida entered the tournament as the #2 overall seed and was 4th in RPI, having been a mainstay in the top-25 rankings for most of the year. LSU was the #1 ranked team for a good part of the season before slipping to #7 as the tourney started, was 5th in RPI, was the 5th seed in the event, and features the likely first 2 picks in the draft.

Here’s how the finals between Florida and LSU played out. I thought that Florida had the huge advantage by virtue of setting up their rotation, and based on the fact that LSU burned its ace Paul Skenes to get into the event.

  • Game 1 LSU’s #2 starter Ty Floyd pitched the game of his life, going 8 innings with 17 Ks to keep his team in a close game. LSU chased Florida’s ace Brandon Sproat early but Florida’s bullpen held strong. LSU’s big hitters came up strong all game: Crews scored the lead off run, their cleanup hitter Dugas hit a solo homer in the 3rd, and the previous game’s hero White tied the game in the 8th with a solo shot. Like the LSU-Wake Forest CWS semi final, this went to the 11th inning, where another big bopper from LSU (their DH Beloso) blasted a homer to right for the game winning run.
  • Game 2: Florida exposed LSU’s lack of pitching depth badly, setting a CWS scoring record and making it embarrassing in the later innings, winning 24-4. Florida’s 1st round stud Wyatt Langford went 5-5, a triple shy of a cycle (he hit a double in the 8th that he just couldn’t leg out a triple on). Amazing hitting performance.
  • Game 3: We were setup for a cringe-worthy appearance from Skenes, who sits on 3 days rest from his epic 120 pitch performance, and the LSU coach probably is saying to himself, “If i don’t get some zero run innings out of my ace, we’re not winning this thing.” However, LSU’s big bats just exploded, with Dylan Crews going 4-6 with a walk, Tommy White going 4-7, and LSU ran away with it in the same way Florida ran away with game two. Sunday starter Tommy Hurd (who entered the game with an era in the 6s) had one of his best career performances, holding Florida to 2 hits in 6IP, and by the time Skenes started throwing a heavy ball in the bullpen LSU was up by a touchdown and their coach (thankfully) kept him out of the game. LSU wins a laugher 18-4 behinds 24 hits and takes home the crown for the first time since 2009.

Your 2023 College World Series Champion: LSU

Here’s some links to past years of CWS coverage here. I’ve been doing this for 10 years now! Each link below is the blog post covering that CWS final

Written by Todd Boss

June 27th, 2023 at 9:05 am

Posted in College/CWS

9 Responses to '2023 CWS Finals: LSU Wins!'

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  1. Good writeup Todd.

    Let me just say I’m happy for Skenes that he didn’t pitch last night, whether we draft him or not.

    That LSU coach was going to do whatever it took to win, even if it ruined a few arms.

    Now we wait to see who Pittsburgh takes and go from there. This is just like the Rendon draft where there were 6 players considered above all the rest and the Nats had the 6th pick.They picked who was left.

    Mark L

    27 Jun 23 at 10:35 am

  2. Great write up, Todd.

    I will never understand the ongoing fan effort to dismiss any credit for the Nats’ drafting of Rendon. Yes, he was the Dick Howser player of the year – as a sophomore. If he had gone into the draft that year, he would possibly have been #1/#1. But there were serious injury questions about Rendon; he had ankle and shoulder injuries and mostly played DH his final year at Rice. His power numbers dropped and there were questions about whether his power would make the transition to wood bats. The Nats took a chance on the upside, and it worked out.

    John C.

    27 Jun 23 at 1:31 pm

  3. The deciding point in the series might have been when LSU chased Sproat early in Gm 1 and forced the Gators to use their bullpen hard in that game. The laugher in Gm 2 gave them a little break, but they didn’t have it in Gm 3 at all. Hurd did enough for LSU in Gm 3 and was nails following Skenes in the epic contest with Wake.

    I see that McDaniel now has Skenes to the Pirates at #1. We’ll see. It now seems like a mortal lock that the Nats will get Crews or Skenes. Langford had a couple of homers in the CWS but didn’t have the dominant performance that might have vaulted him into the top two.


    27 Jun 23 at 2:51 pm

  4. My main emotion is happiness that Skenes didn’t pitch on 3-days rest.

    It should be an interesting two weeks before the draft – I anticipate a lot of smokescreens for negotiation purposes.

    I think there’s a hole in McDaniel’s reasoning. If PIT is playing the prospects against one another to save money at 1/1 to give to a later-round prospect, don’t we think that the savings are likely to be much larger for one of the HS players? Yes, Skenes may give you a break on the bonus compared to Crews. But both guys have the Nats at #2 as a backstop. PIT would surely pay a lower bonus to one of the HS players (or perhaps even to Langford).

    I don’t mean this to be a claim that PIT won’t take Skenes; I have long thought that that possibility was underrated. My point is that if PIT does take Skenes, it will be because they want Skenes more than Crews (which is a defensible view, IMO), not because Skenes is cheaper. “Saving bonus money” is not a rationale that leads you to take Skenes, IMO.


    27 Jun 23 at 3:56 pm

  5. I wouldn’t much pay attention to Kiley’s rankings or draft projections; going into the CWS he, with a straight face< had Skenes listed as going 5th in the draft. They used his analysis in the broadcast and was introducing Skenes as "the #5 ranked prospect in the 2023 draft class" and I laughed out loud.

    Todd Boss

    27 Jun 23 at 4:42 pm

  6. To reinforce my earlier remark I didn’t realize Skenes was warming up when the game was 14-3!

    Mark L

    27 Jun 23 at 5:00 pm

  7. I would think that if the Pirates go the underslot route the most likely play is Langford. if so, get ready for the Great Debate!


    28 Jun 23 at 10:09 am

  8. Who knows where (or if) they get their info, but I’ve seen more than one writer claim that the Nats’ board has Crews #1 and Skenes #2. As gaga as Rizzo usually is over large, high-velo pitchers, I wouldn’t be so sure about that, but we’ll see. At least we know for sure that, unlike so many of the previous ones, Skenes does more than “touch 100.” He grabs it with both hands about 25 times a game.


    28 Jun 23 at 11:24 am

  9. FredMD: agree. I’ve heard an interesting theory: PItt goes to both Skenes and Crews and offers them both #2 overall money, whoevers says yes they sign, then leaving Nats to negotiate possibly with crews, who is expecting 1-1 slot but who then has to take a haircut to 1-2, may not want to, may get ugly, which then leads Nats to say F you and pick Langford, who they can save $$ on.

    I dunno. seems far fetched. I think you pay Crews a bit over slot if this actually happens.

    Todd Boss

    28 Jun 23 at 11:52 am

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