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Vanderbilt Baseball Mail Bag #3: Answers to Your Questions

Letters... we get letters... we get stacks and stacks of letters...

SEC Tournament Vasha Hunt/The State/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

With a 7 game win streak on our hands, in which our pitchers have dominated, and our hitters have warmed up (A-Mart with 3 dingers in the last 2 games; 9 hole hitter Fr. SS Carter Young batting .333; squee!!!), it’s time for your questions:

Question from VandyImport:

We have plenty of arms to go around. Like, an embarrassment of riches. Do you think we’re going to have enough balls to go around (we aren’t doing phrasing any more) or are we inevitably going to lose some guys to the transfer portal simply because we can’t give them enough innings?

Also, is the return of the Vanderbunt a sign that we’re going to try to manufacture runs in the absence of the big boppers from last year’s point-a-minute offense?

No (well, yes, but not that you’ll notice) and yes.

I’ll elaborate. First, Corbs and Brownie have done an admirable job getting innings for our extremely deep pitching staff. With studs like Hickman, Rocker, and Leiter, you could forgive them if they simply gave each the Sonny Gray treatment, had them average north of 110 pitches per game, and then handed it over to Tyler Brown to close it out. Simply put, Corbs and Brownie have shown extreme restraint early in the season, as they realize it is more important to develop the whole staff than it is to maximize return out of our starters.

At the moment, 10 games into the season, a whopping 13 pitchers have gotten the ball—10 of them have had 2 appearances, and 3 of them (Ethan Smith, Tyler Brown, and Chris McElvain) have had 3 appearances. Even when you use innings as the metric, the most anyone on the staff has thrown is 12 (Hickman, Rocker, and Smith).

Beyond that, they’ve largely been terrific! Even with sharing the wealth, we have a Team ERA of 1.61, an opponents’ batting average of .160, and an absurd 12.85 K/9 rate! At this rate, everyone will get a chance to contribute, and all arms will be rested come tourney time. You don’t need to be Pangloss to conclude this is the best of all possible worlds.

In fact, only 3 pitchers on our roster have yet to get the ball, and one of them, Hugh Fisher, is out for the year. In short, of our healthy pitchers, only So. RHP Chance “The Pitcher” Huff (2-0, 6.38 ERA in 8 appearances in 2019) and Fr. LHP Ryan Keenan (N/A) have not seen game action this year. Could they transfer because of it? Certainly. Would you notice? I mean... again, 13 pitchers have gotten multiple appearances, and no one currently has more than one appearance more than anyone else.

Though we will surely shorten our rotation and bullpen up come tournament time, we will still have midweek games to get our young guys more seasoned all through SEC play. If I’m Corbs and Brownie, I like what I’ve seen from most of them, and though Luke Murphy might be on a shorter leash, would have no qualms putting any of them out there in SEC games. They’ve really been that good. Maybe Murphy and McElvain are not yet ready for Prime Time, but all the others have looked great.

Beyond that, over the past few years, we have established ourselves as so much of a pitching factory that RS Fr. LHP Joe Gobillot (0-0; 15.50 ERA; 2 App; 0 Starts, 0 Saves) was drafted in the 16th round by the Tampa Bay Rays last year. Those are his career numbers with us, of course. Sure, Austin “Big Walnut” Becker transferred, but that was largely due to other reasons.

As for your second question, though we have seen an uptick in power this home-stand, we will definitely need to manufacture runs against top pitching. It will never be last year’s offense, but we have improved significantly from opening weekend, as we’ve plated at least 5 R in each of our last 5 games, and reached double digits yesterday.

Question from Shoogymgshoogs:

How many home games will we get free pizza at?

(5 runs = free pizza)

Is this a thing? If so, from which pizza place? After last year, how are they still in business?

I’ll answer based on good faith, regardless:

We have gotten 5 or more in each of our last 5 games, so that’s 5 already.

We have 28 regular season home games left. I’d say we should reach that threshold in around 23 of the remaining games—seriously, other than three against Ugga, three against Clanga, and the one game Battle for the Barrel against UL, we don’t exactly face a murderer’s row of opposing pitchers.

If this extends to the postseason, let’s add another 5 homes games in. I’ll take 4 of them.

32 pizzas.

Question from Etanksley:

After the article coming out about spending (and lack thereof) within Vanderbilt athletics and lack of any solid plans on future athletic spending or developments, do you think Corbin could ever reach a point where he gives up and leaves Vandy? And on the flip side, could he throw his weight around enough/threaten Vanderbilt into spending money or getting things done? I know baseball gets donations so their spending is different, but I’m sure working around the dysfunctional athletics department is exhausting for him.

First question: No. We have already fended off attempts by LSU, Clanga, and Oregon’s Scrooge McDuck Vault of Nike money when they were re-launching their program (and likely countless other offers we never heard of). He’s here for life.

Second question: He already has. What with our impressive roster of MLB players returning and donating to the program, we have the best facilities in all of college baseball.

Overall answer to both questions: We are the envy of every other collegiate baseball program. You don’t have to worry about our institutional commitment to baseball. It’s the damned gold standard. You’re thinking of football. Stop thinking of football. In Hawkins Field did Corbs-la Khan a stately pleaseure-dome decree...