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Vanderbilt Baseball Mail Bag #2: Answers to your Questions

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

2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Baseball Championship Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Question from BarnDore1950:

Admittedly I haven’t been able to watch the last three or four games. However, I still have some concerns about our hitting. It appears to me that some of the guys are trying to pull the ball too much and are not hitting to the opposite field if that’s what the pitch dictates. How concerned are our writers with the hitting at this point?

Hmm... I haven’t been seeing that, especially in the Army series. The only batter I’m concerned with in terms of being pull heavy early in the 2022 season is Enrique “Shockwave” Bradfield, but that concern was more along the lines of the concern Lou Brown has of Willie Mays Hayes trying to be a power hitter. It seems like Corbs has made Shockwave do his pushups after every fly ball, as he unleashed the bunt weapon this weekend against the Army Men. Mighty Carter Young may be falling in that trap, as well, but I think it’s likely just an issue of coming back from injury (and a little early season slump thrown in for good measure). I’d actually say our hitters may be too “hit it the other way” disciplined, especially Spencer “Dr.” Jones. Though you don’t mess with success—and Dr. Jones has been fantastic out of the 3 hole this year—with his frame, if he could adjust slightly and be more of a pull hitter, he turns into JJ Bleday.

In other words, it’s more of a hitter by hitter issue for a hitting coach, but I haven’t seen being pull-heavy as a team-wide problem as of yet.

*Note: I really wouldn’t mess with success with Dr. Jones right now. This suggestion is more for the 2022 offseason (if he decides to come back for his senior year), or certainly what MLB development systems will make him do.

Question from dore31:

Reilly has pitched well the first two weeks after dominating during summer ball per a few accounts. Do you think he moves to the rotation this weekend with 4 games on the schedule or do you like piggybacking him with McElvain on Friday nights (not quite Rocker but does feel like we can get 9 really good innings on Fridays that way)?

My concern with Reilly, similar to my concern with McBain, is that both have more of a reliever’s arsenal, and might get dinged up a third time through the lineup. Beyond that, Reilly often manages to lose control in one inning (or at least that was his main issue as a freshman). I am absolutely fine with the 4 IP each Friday night piggyback Corbs has going. In an ideal world, both show starter capabilities, and we’ve got our Friday and Saturday guys locked up by SEC play. More likely, one emerges, and the other becomes a shut-down closer (seriously... no one is hitting Reilly if he is the closer). Seeing as, in my opinion, our two best starters are likely freshmen lefties Carter Holton and Devin Futrell—and that Little might even be the 3rd best by SEC play—I am all for the “let ‘em battle it out and the winners will become apparent by SEC play route Corbs and Brownie have opted for this year.

Of course, with our pitching depth, would it really be the worst thing to have Reilly and McBain (in whatever order) just destroy SEC lineups against their Friday night Ace counterparts? If you can use 2-3 pitchers tops per game, you’re going to be able to go pretty far. All 3 of Reilly, McBain, and Maldo have the potential to be a Kevin Kopps type multi-inning weapon out of the bullpen in postseason play. That’s pretty damned valuable.

Question from VUDoc76:

Will we beat Louisville this year (regular season)?

Grab your brandy snifter, turn it upside-down, rub it and see what it tells you...

If either Futrell or Little are the midweek starters at that point, you can take that barrel to the bank! (Umm... or The Hawk.)

p.s. Luke Smith is still human garbage.

Question from Parlagi:

What’s going on in Starkville so far? They dropped 2 of 3 to Long Beach St. in bad fashion, lost to Northern Kentucky, and they’re trailing Southern Miss 6-0 as I type this.

They open conference play at Tulane this weekend, and that’s a much-improved Green Wave squad. Is this standard early season jitters, or something else?

They lost their two best hitters in Tanner Allen (4th round, Marlins) and Rowdey “Roddy” Jordan (11th round, Mets) to the MLB Draft, to begin with. They also lost their Friday Ace Will “Nard Bed” Bednar (1st round, Giants). That explains a lot of it.

They’re only hitting .260 as a team, and though Brad Cumbest is spraying it everywhere (gross), the rest aren’t exactly doing their part. Do I expect this to continue all year? Yes. Let’s go with yes, because fuck Clanga.

Oh, and they finally won their natty, and on that moment, the cursed Monkey’s Paw slowly bent one finger down...

Question from Athanatos504:

Is the Keegan catcher experiment over?

It is not. I have formed my opinion on the matter (liable to change, but unlikely) that Dom should be the cleanup hitter (whether at 1B or DH), and though he has shown enough to split catching duties with Bulger, Dom should be the secondary catcher. In other words, Bulger should catch Fridays and Sundays, and Dom should catch Saturdays and the midweek game. That would still give Dom enough tape to show MLB scouts, but get Bulger ready for SEC and postseason play. Will Corbs do this? I honestly don’t know.

I don’t want to pile on Dom, and a lot of it is that we have come off of the best two year stretch of defensive catching in Vanderbilt history—and Vanderbilt has had a long stretch of really impressive catchers before Chi Chi—but when I watch Dom airmail throws, I lose my shit.

Question from VandyFan1:

What has been going on with christian little?

I’m not sure exactly what you mean by this question. He’s pitching well (0-0; 3.00 ERA) in limited innings (2 appearances for 3 IP thus far). I’ll assume you mean to ask, “Why is Christian Little not starting?” For that, besides the obvious answer of competition within the staff, I really don’t know. Everything I’ve seen would place him as the third best starting pitcher on the team (meaning the third best pitcher amongst pitchers I would trust to throw 6 IP in a start). He’s got a hell of an arm, a frightening arsenal of pitches, his control is improving, and his glove can communicate with all who live in the ocean (and no, there is no picture on Google Images of his Aquaman glove, for some reason). Not to beat a dead horse, but you know how he was an early enrollee and pitched at 17 last year? Well, he’s still the youngest player on the team.

If/when Corbs decides to move Maldo back to the pen, I could see Little getting the midweek starts. I’m down for that.

Question from Shoogymgshoogs:

What is wrong with Carter Young and will he ever be replaced in the lineup for a reason other than injury?

I think it’s a combination of coming back from injury, knowing you’re being talked about as a possible 1st round pick, and early season jitters. The first and last of those can be fixed with time. The 2nd one has to be fixed within his own mind. If he plays every game with his eye on the draft, he will lose his damned mind. Baseball is a simple game done in a complex fashion. Astronaut Mike Baxter will have to make it priority #1 to get Carter back to the Mighty Carter Young we saw at the plate in pre-injury 2021. In the field, he looked damned fine against the Army Men. Give it some time... he’s certainly not lacking in talent.

Question from Chasrad:

Will Donye Evans pitch this year? He seemed to have some potential last year.

I honestly don’t know. This reminds me of the last mail bag question about roster size. I agree that Evans demonstrated some real potential last year, but he was extremely raw. Perhaps he has decided to redshirt this year, work in the pitching lab, and come back next year ready to go. Of course, I have no inside info on this. It’s just speculation. They haven’t given him the ball through 8 games, though, with some against less than stellar competition. That probably tells you all you need to know.

Question from Parlagi:

This isn’t a question, but Humpin’ to Please defeats #8 NC State 7-4.

No question about it. See you in hell, QAnoNC State.

Question from VandyImport:

Why shouldn’t your first stop on your way from the airport to the Pink Palace or the Moana Surfrider (#VandyLifestyle) be at Teddy’s Bigger Burger? Especially now that Rotier’s is no more, you can sooth your woes with The Hangover (pastrami and hash browns on a 1/2 on burger), so why wouldn’t you?

I assume all questions from VandyImport to be rhetorical.