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2021 Vanderbilt Baseball Mail Bag #6: Answers to Your Questions

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

USPS Tote Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Question from Athanatos504:

What is the biggest question mark for this team right now?

I’ll begin with this one, as it is the question most easy to give a straightforward answer to. It’s the Sunday starter. Though I believe Thomas “The Mayor” Schultz certainly has enough talent to be a better than average SEC Sunday starter (heck, he’s got more than enough talent to be a better than average SEC Saturday starter), the results have been a bit erratic thus far. Overall, he’s 2-2 with a 5.14 ERA, which is... not great. When we get a little more granular, it tells a more complete story.

Let’s break his performance down start by start:

Friday Feb. 26: 4-2 loss to Georgia State.

4.1 IP 4 H 2 R 2 ER 2 BB 4 K 1 WP on 75 total pitches.

Friday March 5: 15-0 win over UIC.

5.0 IP 1 H 0 R 0 ER 0 BB 8 K on 88 total pitches.

Sunday March 14: 10-6 loss to Okie State.

1.2 IP 6 H 6 R 6 ER 0 BB 2 K on 61 total pitches.

Sunday March 21: 6-5 loss to the South Cackalacky Game Penises (No Decision for Schultz).

4.0 IP 4 H 3 R 3 ER 0 BB 4 K on 61 total pitches.

Saturday March 27th: 3-1 win over Missourah (spits).

5.0 IP 5 H 1 R 1 ER 2 BB 2 K 1 WP on 88 total pitches.

The first thing that should stand out is that Schultz has not yet gone deep into any games, and has yet to record a quality start (at least 6 IP and 3 R or fewer). He certainly could have been allowed to do so in his best start of the year (Week 2 vs. UIC), and arguably could have been left out there in the 6th against Missourah (spits), but with allowing 7 base runners in 5 IP, it was not exactly shocking that Corbs pulled him. Further, the team was up just 2-1 at the time, and the bullpen was fully rested. It was the right decision. Better to pull him when he can only record a win than to keep him out there and potentially hurt his confidence.

Beyond that, Schultz is hurt by the optics that there is such a big drop-off from Rocker and Leiter. Still, you would expect at least a guy who can average close to 6 IP and 3 ER in the Sunday slot. We are Vanderbilt, after all.

The second thing that should stand out is the amount of hits he has surrendered. Schultz has only walked 4 batters thus far—which is impressive. However, he has averaged around a hit per inning. That’s right about in line with what you would expect from an average SEC Sunday starter. It’s not what you expect from a Vanderbilt Sunday starter.

The reason this is a big question mark is that we do have many candidates to potentially replace him in the starting rotation. Christian “The Answer” Little is the future, but at present, he’s a 17 year old kid learning on the job. Midweek starter is the right place for him. Further, he’s been as erratic as Schultz (though his highs have been admittedly higher, he has thrown a few clunkers). The most obvious candidates—Michael Doolin and Spencer Jones—are recovering from Tommy John surgeries, and should compete for a weekend rotation spot next year. The next most obvious candidates—Sam Hliboki and Ethan Smith—are currently in the bull pen. Could they be at least league average Sunday starters? Without a doubt. As such, Schultz knows his leash is not exactly infinite.

Clearly, what Corbs and Brownie want is for Schultz to figure it all out and make their decision easy for them. He will certainly get at least one more start (this Saturday against LSU). LSU is 1-5 in conference play, but their lineup is at least potentially dangerous. They will be much more of a test than Missourah (spits).

Question from Parlagi:

Which weekend result surprises you most?

South Carolina sweeping Florida at home

Tennessee sweeping LSU at home

Arkansas sweeping MSU in Starkville

All of them are surprising, as not just did the underdog win the series, but they swept the series—but that’s not what you asked. I’ve got to go with the obvious one: The Chuggers sweeping The Gumbo Bengals.

That’s not supposed to happen. Not now; not ever.

Here’s the funny thing. Clanga (MSU) and Clanga, but Rich People (Ole Piss) love to complain about Opportunity Vanderbilt. As they are dumb, they think we’re just giving out full scholarships to every baseball player, and not adhering to the 11.7, when in fact, we are certainly giving out lots of aid through Opportunity Vanderbilt, but the average Vandy baseball player has to pay more to attend Vanderbilt than the full cost of tuition (and room and board) at either Mississippi public college. They should be angry at LSU, though. The state of Louisiana has the TOPS Program, and the qualifications for a full tuition scholarship are laughably low:

Standard Eligibility Requirements

– Minimum TOPS Core Curriculum GPA of 2.50 (GPA computed on TOPS Core Curriculum courses only)

– Completion of the 19.0 Core Units of the TOPS Core Curriculum

– Minimum ACT Score (or SAT Equivalent) of the prior year state average but never less than a 20 (Click here for the LOSFA ACT and SAT codes needed to be added to your test registrations)

– Must enroll full time as a first time freshman, by the first semester following the first anniversary of high school graduation

– Be a US citizen or permanent resident

– Meet TOPS Louisiana residency requirements

*BESE-Approved Home Study Eligibility – ACT/SAT Score of 2 points above standard – Currently 22

*Louisiana Residents graduating from an eligible out-of-state/country high school – ACT/SAT Score of 3 points above standard – Currently 23

Renewal Requirements

– Minimum 2.30 GPA at the end of the first Academic Year(between 24-47 hours of earned credit) 1

– Minimum 2.50 GPA at the end of all other Academic Years (once 48 hours have been earned) 1

– Maintain steady Academic Progress at the end of all other semesters/terms (2.00 Cumulative GPA) 1

– Student must be enrolled full-time as of the 15th class day at a semester institution or as of the 10th class day at a quarter institution and maintain continuous enrollment2

– Earn at least 24 Credit Hours for Academic Year (the TOPS Academic Year begins with the fall term of the award year and concludes immediately before the next fall term commences. All intersessions and summer sessions are included)

– Hours earned during the Intersession between Fall and Spring Semesters will be counted toward meeting the 24 Hours Annual Requirement but not toward Full-Time Enrollment

– For more information on courses that will and will not fulfill the 24 Hours annual requirement click here.

1 Suspended Award will be reinstated if appropriate GPA regained within 24 months.

2 Failure to enroll full time, maintain continuous enrollment or earn 24 hours results in cancellation of award and it cannot be reinstated without an Approved Request for Exception to the Initial, Continuous, Full-Time Enrollment and/or 24 Hour Requirement.

In other words, LSU gets to give its 11.7 to out of state baseball players, as their in state guys (read: nearly everyone on the team) are full of TOPS Scholarship kids. For the TL;DR crowd, a Louisiana high school student just needs to make a 2.5 GPA (in their core courses, mind you... they can tank the others), and score a 20 on the ACT (basically, prove they are functionally literate and able to do very basic math). And to renew it after freshman year? A 2.3 GPA, and then a 2.5 GPA after that.

You read right, Dr. Johnson.

Beyond that, LSU was the powerhouse to end all powerhouses in college baseball in the 90s and 2000s; kids in Louisiana play the hell out of baseball and grow up dreaming to don the purple and gold; and they have one of the best revenue-generating stadiums in the sport.

Tennessee, meanwhile, has Franzia and a funnel.

Okay, okay, they have Franzia, a funnel, and once R.A. Dickey (yes, I’m still pissed at Vandy admissions over that one).

Question from ConquerAndPrevail:

How does the recently announced {$VANDY_IDEA} affect VandyBoys?

Here was my original response:

Though I’m not going to be able to watch the 10am presser. All I keep seeing is #VandyUnited, so I assume it means we’ve purchased a British soccer team.

Here is my response after hearing where that $300 million is slated for:

It won’t really affect the baseball program, as that money’s going elsewhere. Luckily, Corbs has been an athletic department unto himself, and decided to get David Price and the boys to pay for the Pitching Lab (tm) and baseball offices behind the monster. Similarly, we already have a world class locker room. Let’s let the feetball, shooty hoops, and lady shooty hoops teams take this filthy lucre. We’re good.

Question from RocketCityVandy:

Given our series victory over South Carolina, and their sweep of Florida:

A) What does this say about Florida’s overall chances this year?

B) Is SCe better than we thought?

C) Does this grant us 2.5 games worth of victories over Florida by default?

A) Sit down, Sully. Okay, I still think The Gainesville Jorts have a very talented team, and will be a dangerous out come tourney time. Still, feel free to downgrade them a bit. I’d put them somewhere between the 10th and 15th best team in college baseball after this series.

B) There is certainly a chance we saw the flaccid version of The South Cackalacky Game Penises, but I actually thought they were pretty damned good after watching them play us. We just have two human cheat codes in Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter. If they’re on (not A game, but have their average stuff), we will be heavily favored to win no matter who we play. The Penis pitching staff looked solid, and when not facing the current Gerritt Cole and Trevor Bauers of college baseball, their lineup is filled with dangerous bats. I’d put them around the 10th best team in baseball.

C) Yes.

Question from Lsmsrlbs:

I still have baby shark stuck in my head. In which circle of hell will the Missouri PA guy reside?

I’ll go with the inner ring of the 7th circle, reserved for blasphemers, as playing that shows contempt for the divinity of the game of baseball. It’s the one that’s full of burning sand. Burning sand becomes glass. I would like to British Publican style “glass” the PA guy for playing that song. Thank you for listening to my Ted Talk.