Vanderbilt basketball beat Georgia on the road on Saturday despite being down two bigs for likely the next month. That team joins the Women’s basketball team — which has just eight players — as squads that have been bitten by the injury bug.
Meanwhile, the windows to enter the transfer Portal and declare for the NFL Draft have both concluded. The Commodores lost running back Ray Davis, quarterback Mike Wright, tight ends Ben Bresnahan and Gavin Schoenwald and linebacker Anfernee Orji, but otherwise were largely unscathed.
Vanderbilt baseball opens its season in Arlington, Texas, at the College Baseball Showdown in just under four weeks, with preseason workouts underway.
The Tennessean answers Reader questions about Vanderbilt sports:
“How many players is Vandy football expecting to sign in Feb?
“Do you expect any changes on the football coaching staff?
“Where in Memorial Gym is the voodoo doll causing all of the injuries to the men’s and women’s team, and why hasn’t it been found?”
I’m not expecting anyone to sign in February. Everyone who was committed signed in December, and any remaining room would likely go to transfer targets. At this time of year, further staff changes are also unlikely.
Shea Ralph joked earlier in the season that Jerry Stackhouse suggested she should burn sage to help Ward off any further injuries. But not only did any attempt at witchcraft not work, the injury bug bit Stackhouse’s program too. Big men tend to be more prone to lower-body injuries than other positions, so the issues with the men’s team may just be bad luck.
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“What do you think the realistic ceiling is for the baseball team this year?” -Adam Waltenbaugh
I don’t think this is a team that will be seriously in play for the SEC title, but it could still snag a national seed due to the scheduling. With so many top-rate opponents, Vanderbilt will likely have a high RPI and the opportunity for a number of quality wins.
Although this team will likely not put up gaudy regular-season numbers, it should have one of the deepest pitching staffs in the country, and Omaha is certainly not out of the question.
“Who will be in weekend rotation for VU baseball?” -Bob A Lou
There are so many options here that it’s easiest to rank this in tiers of who I think is most likely to get the ball in Arlington.
Tier 1 (Near lock): Carter Holton
Holton is the heavy favorite to get the ball on Friday nights after becoming the ace of the staff by the end of last season.
Tier 2 (The most likely Saturday/Sunday guys): Devin Futrell, Hunter Owen, Andrew Dutkanych
Futrell is an obvious option after what he did in midweeks last year. Tim Corbin indicated in the fall that Owen would get a chance to start, and blue-chip freshman Dutkanych could force the issue like Holton did last year.
Tier 3 (Could also be options): Sam Hliboki, Bryce Cunningham, Patrick Reilly
Hliboki, finally healthy after Tommy John surgery, is another potential rotation piece, although he may take some time to return to form. They may start in the bullpen with the potential to move into the rotation later on. Cunningham made four Sunday starts last year. Reilly still has huge upside as a starter, but poor control has held him back. We didn’t see him in the fall, so it’s hard to tell if that’s improved enough to make him a rotation option. Without significantly cutting his walk rate, he’ll most likely be in the bullpen.
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“Will Alan Espinal be our main second catcher behind Jack Bulger, or is Cade Law and Logan Poteet expected to take those responsibilities?” -Adam Lupien
My read on the situation is actually that there’s a chance one of Espinal or Poteet is the starting catcher by the end of the season instead of Bulger. Bulger is not a great defender, and his bat hasn’t been good enough to make him someone you can’t take out of the lineup.
In the fall, Poteet seemed ahead of Law for playing time. Both Espinal and Poteet are known as advanced defenders, but it will depend on if their bats are usable.