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2021 Vanderbilt Baseball Mail Bag #13: Answers to Your Questions

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

Russian Post offices in Rostov-on-Don, Russia Photo by Erik Romanenko\TASS via Getty Images

Question from Stress Fracture:

Who do you have most confidence in coming out of the bullpen? Who would be long relief vs. a third starter?

The closer job was not settled coming into the year—in fact, most, including Corbs, likely had penciled in Ethan Smith into that role. Now? It’s Maldo, with Murphy as my 1a. While neither are Arky’s Kopps-level dominant, when they come in, I am calm.

As for the “Long relief vs. 3rd starter” question, I have to think (arm spasms aside), the kid Christian “The Answer” Little should now be the starting pitcher you should have the 3rd most confidence in. While Reilly’s arm can be electric, it can also be erratic, and Schultz has done a yearlong Turd Ferguson impression. Of course, you need 4 starters for the postseason, so I’ll go (in order of my confidence in them to get quality starts): Rocker, Leiter, Little, and Reilly.

Question from PeabodyButNotHOD:

Do you foresee a Jones/Bulger DH platoon in the Regionals continuing with LaNeve holding down left? Has Cooper Davis seen his last AB as a Commodore/college player? Why does Corbs seem to consistently either not start or remove Gonzo midway thru games?

Excellent questions, Mr. Peabody (I’m not only showing my age, I’m showing the age of my parents there). LaNeve will keep LaNeaving the yard and playing LF as long as he’s a Commodore at this point. He has the combined baseball playing attributes of Walker Grisanti, Xander Wiel, and late career Stephen Scott. He’s just a professional hitter who will demand scouts pay attention to him soon enough. Write him in the lineup card in Sharpie.

As for LaNeve’s effect on Cooper Davis’s playing time... well, Coop hit himself in the face in his first AB as a senior. That has been a metaphor for his season. Don’t count him out, though, as he could quite easily have a Tyler “Soup” Campbell type postseason run if he has to go out there as an injury replacement. Also, expect him to pinch run and/or be the LF defensive substitution in late innings of games we’re in the lead.

Also, yes, I do see it as a Jones/Bulger R-L DH platoon, though Gonzo could also be the DH when Carter Young returns, and pushes Tater to 2B and Noland to 3rd. That’s our strongest defensive infield (with Dom at 1st, obviously).

As for the Gonzo conundrum, well, Gonzo is 100% a streaky hitter. When he’s on, he lets the ball get deep, hits it where it’s pitched, and only tries to pull pitches on the inner half of the plate over that fencing they’ve set up. When he’s off, he gets pull happy and stands too far from the plate in his batting stance. It’s pretty easy to tell which Gonzo you’re getting by the end of his first AB (and certainly by the end of his 2nd).

Question from Chasrad:

Old and new questions:

Old: Do you think Maldo could pull a Carson Fulmer switch and become a starter? It may be too late for this year.

New: Do you think Christian Little could be our long awaited and anticipated third starter?Is the Rock on cruise control until the draft? His body language would suggest it.If Troy continues not to hit and misplay fly balls do you think he could be replaced, at least in the field?

Old: Maldo could absolutely become a starter, and that may well be the path for him next year. As long as one or two of Michael “Doolin Banjo” Doolin, Sam “Perfect Stranger” Hliboki, and Dr. Jones return to full pitching strength from their Tommy John surgeries (I know Dr. Jones has been a DH this year, but trust me, his future is on the mound), though, the starting rotation might be full-up, or at least more stacked than the pen. With Luke “The Law” Murphy likely moving on to the minor leagues this summer, the most important role Maldo could fill for the 2022 team would be to remain the closer. Think of what Kevin Kopps has done for Arky, or what Tyler Brown did for us not too long ago. The closer role is often the 3rd most important role on a college baseball pitching staff (after the Friday and Saturday starters, of course). Maldo should lock that role down.

New: Yes, Christian Little should be our #3 starter after his SEC Tourney pitching performance against Ole Piss. As long as those were just cramps and spasms and he’s all ready health-wise, I would start him in Game 3 of the regionals if I were Corbs.

I don’t think Kumar is on cruise control. I think what we’re seeing from both Kumar and Jack is a product of last season being cut short and this season being the regular length. As such, there’s some arm fatigue issues happening. They’re both as intense as a Carson Fulmer death-stare, so I expect their Ace games in the Nashville Regional.

Finally, see above re: Troy. Troy LaNeve has shown me enough to start him in LF this year and next year. He’s a Scott-Grisanti-Wiel Voltron, and I aims to keep that thunder in the lineup.

Question from ShoogyMgShoogs:

If [Arky wins] the Natty, who is better between 2019 Vandy and 2021 Arky?

Ask again later. The reason I’m asking you to ask this again later is that the story of this season hasn’t been written yet. If our 2019 team flamed out before, of even during, Omaha, we’d think of them the same way we think of the 2013 squad. Ask this after the CWS is over.

That said, given the hypothetical, it’s still a no. Arky is as solid a team as you could want, but their only true star is their closer. The 2019 Vandy team was loaded with star power. That’s why Arky is the favorite in this year’s tourney (and trust me, they have more than earned it), but shouldn’t be favored over the other top 8 teams by all that much.

Question from ConquerAndPrevail:

I’m thinking about our recent play, and I’m wondering how our Dores are reacting. I’m not picking up the knack of what’s going on. I’ve watched the footwork, even the shoulder and back, but I’m unable to find any higher glamours recently. Where are they lurking?

I see what you did there.

*Note: Is it just me, or does anyone else immediately hear that commercial monologue reading of Grantland Rice’s sports poem and instead start playing, “My Neck, My Back” in their heads? I think it’s all the listing of body parts combined with “back.”

“My shoulder, my back... my glamours and my knack...”

**Note: If you don’t know what that song is and you have delicate ears, for the love of God, do not Google it.

Question from ComradDore:

Mr. Burns, your campaign seems to have the momentum of a runaway freight train. Why are you so popular?