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2019 Baseball Mail Bag #2: Answers To Questions from our Readers

...and if you don’t know, now you know.

Voters Across The Country Head To The Polls For The Midterm Elections Photo by Alex Edelman/Getty Images

Letters... we get letters... we get sacks and sacks of letters...

Question from VandyImport:

Should I be worried that we’re averaging giving up a run per inning all season to teams ranked below us?

If we haven’t halved that by the end of this weekend, yes. In other words, no. Not yet. I know this is more of a Tom Stephenson answer, but it’s the correct one. We’ve got the arm talent, but the first month of the season is always for sorting out the rotation and bullpen. Think of it like spring training: some come in ready, and others need a few trips to the mound to get their timing down, get their grips right, and then to throw a few more innings for muscle memory to take over. Raby looked ready (which is the best news we could have gotten from this weekend, honestly), as did Hickman, King, and Eder. Fellows, Rocker, and Franklin did not. Some of the freshmen, like Huff and Smith, showed they have the talent to be forces for us down the line, but will be projects for Scott Brown to work with in the Pitching Lab. I haven’t seen anything thus far that smacks of Turd Ferguson-esque wildness. They have the next 15 games at home to iron out the kinks. Talent wins out in the end.

More importantly, should you be worried? You, who would ride out a nuclear apocalypse clad in a seersucker suit with cocktail in hand? You, who spent your youth with a “Cousin-Pa” in Alabama and ended up with a degree from Vanderbilt, working at a world class university in the Silly Con Valley (*okay, it’s a Junior College, but one hell of a Junior College)?

You, worried? No.

Question from Athanatos504:

1. Do you give Rocker at least one more Sunday start or drop him to a midweek game next week to settle his jitters?

2. Has there been a status report on Infante? Did he sustain a concussion? If so, will it improve his ability to lay off breaking balls in the dirt?

If I was pitching coach Scott Brown, I would seriously consider stretching out So. LHP Jake Eder’s arm in the mid-week spot. He pitched a 1-2-3 8th inning on Sunday, but I think he has been underutilized to this point in his Vanderbilt career. He got 9 starts as a freshman, and though he didn’t have the best ERA last year (5+), he has a three pitch mix, and big lefties with an easy delivery and a 96mph heater do not grow on trees. As such, here is what I would do: pair Hickman and Rocker as a tandem on Sundays—planning to give them around 4 IP each. At the moment, I would start with Hickman, and give him two turns through the Pepperdine lineup. If he’s cruising, that’s 5 innings. If he’s doing fine, that’s 4 innings. Either way, I’d plan for Rocker to come in after the first 18 batters. Ideally, he’s coming in with a pretty solid lead, and as such, less pressure. By giving them such a plan, they would feel like dual starters, and this could preserve the competition for the spot. Beyond that, for Rocker, knowing he is to come in the inning following Hickman’s 2nd pass through the lineup gives him more of a starters rhythm in terms of when to start warming up in the pen. This is not exactly uncommon in college baseball, especially in the postseason, and the idea is even gaining traction amongst MLB analytics types. SBNation Phillies writer Ethan Witte took a look into it for the Phillies rotation a few weeks back, and while it does not make as much sense for the current iteration of the Phillies, it could work with the Dores. Young pitchers are especially susceptible to performance drop-offs the third time through a line-up. Short of that, I’d ride with Hickman on Sundays and Rocker on Wednesdays (with Eder, King, and Smith as long relief options if either falter) until Rocker forces Brown’s hand.

Of course, they don’t exactly listen to me. Looks like Fr. RHP Chance Huff is going to get the ball Wednesday vs. Evansville.

As for your 2nd part question, Corbs is notoriously tight-lipped on player injuries. As there is no league requirement to give out injury reports, he just doesn’t do it. Short of Tommy John surgeries, we pretty much never know. Hell, Kyle Smith shattered his orbital bone, and then couldn’t see the ball for over a year, and all that was leaked out for the longest time was ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. However, the fact that Chinfante came out in game one and did not return at all this weekend screams concussion. As for the last part of your 2nd question, I would love for Chinfante to undergo a Fred Flintstone hit with bowling ball style transformation that turns him into someone with epic plate discipline (“Frederico Chinstone”). Just don’t see it happening.

Question from ShawnerAllen:

First time long time. Could you rank your favorite uniform combinations? Bonus question, if you were a coach, would you wear a uniform or just a hitting jacket type thing?

Thanks. I’ll hang up and listen.

I actually really liked the gangster pajamas with script Vanderbilt they debuted Friday:

Following that, the white with gold script Vanderbilt is a good’n. Not a fan of any of the camouflage, gold with black lettering, or awkward red white and blue with flag lettering nonsense pairings.

As for all time baseball uniforms, I’m partial to the the 1980s Phillies’ powder blues and the Nolan Ryan era Houston Astros futuristic Astrodome nonsense:

Seattle Mariners v Houston Astros
Tony “The Man of Steal” Kemp.
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

For your last question, much like Bobby Hill, I would wear the full uniform... and a cape.

Question from Harry Billy Bob:

On what day will baseball’s number of wins surpass basketball?

Either March 2nd or March 3rd. In other words, this will happen before Senior Day in Memorial Gym vs. Arkansas. Poor Joe Toye.