College Baseball Top 25 Chat (4/8/19)

Image credit: Georgia righthander Emerson Hancock (Courtesy of Georgia)

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Teddy Cahill: Welcome to this week’s college baseball chat. You have questions. I’ll get to as many as I can before I hop on a flight. Let’s get started.

Joseph (Atlanta): 

    Thoughts on the Dawgs as legit Omaha contenders? Seems this formula is great for the postseason. Awesome pitching and great defense with timely hitting. Should only get better as they get Meadows and Sullivan back in the field, along with Webb and Proctor in the bullpen. If Wilcox can keep improving, that will only make them that much stronger. Exciting group to watch.

Teddy Cahill: Can Georgia get to Omaha? Absolutely. If you’re talking about the Bulldogs as legit national title contenders, yeah, they’re that too. The way Georgia is pitching and playing defense right now is very impressive and those are traits that play up in the postseason. I think UGA has enough offense to make a lot of noise this June. That rotation of Hancock, Smith and Locey is really going strong right now and, as you mentioned, the bullpen will get stronger as it gets some pieces back. As it is, Georgia is a well constructed, well rounded team.

Frank (Atlanta): 

    What are the odds Georgia Tech & UGA both host regionals? And if not what are the odds they end up in each other’s regional? I feel like the dialogue over the past few years has been leaning towards a true 1-64 seeding and disregarding locations/rivalries entirely.

Teddy Cahill: We got into Georgia Tech’s hosting chances on the podcast today so look for that later. In short, yes, they both are setting up well to host. UGA obviously ahead right now, but Georgia Tech is in first place in its division and should be able to stay there. Its RPI isn’t as good, but if it wins 18 ACC games (that’s going 9-6 down the stretch), I think it should be in pretty good shape. The ACC hosting race is interesting as Louisville has the best RPI but also has series losses to Clemson and Georgia Tech, which is going to be costly, I think.


Jeramey (Locust Grove): 

    If memory serves correctly, the committee was really hard on conference records last year, in regards to who they let in the field of 64. With this Bieng said, both Tennessee and Florida are 4-8 in the conference, but have rpis according to Warren nolan of 13 and 32 respectively. How do think this plays into the selection committees decisions on who to invite to the tournament? Thanks as always!

Teddy Cahill: The committee made a winning conference record almost mandatory last year for at-large teams. Every committee is different, but I don’t see that changing this year. And that’s a real problem for a slew of SEC teams, which have to look no further than Kentucky to see what a 13-17 SEC record but strong RPI will get you. So, yeah, Florida and Tennessee both need to pick up the pace in conference play. The good news for Florida is that its only played one East series so far and that was at Vanderbilt. There aren’t easy series in the SEC this year, but it still has South Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee all at home. But both teams have put themselves in tough positions after four weekends.

Cole (Eastern N.C.): 

    Who is the “team to beat” in the ACC this year?

Teddy Cahill: NC State has to be the answer at this point. The Wolfpack are in first place and have only lost four games this year. But, frankly, the ACC is down this year. I don’t think there’s a truly dominant team in the league.

Tyler (Dimmitt): 

    It’s really starting to look like the Big 12 could produce a crazy conference where anyone outside of K-State or Kansas can win a series and potentially win the conference. After 3 series played what are your predictions for who wins the Big 12?

Teddy Cahill: Give me Texas. But that league is the most wide open in the country. It’s going to come down to the final weekend again, I feel pretty good about saying that.

Tiffythetitan (Oakland, CA): 

    Hi, I’m worried that my Titans are taking longer than usual to figure out effective bullpen use with the inconsistent young arms plus struggling to score runs against good pitching. How unheard of would it be for Fullerton to use an “opener” for Friday games and have Tanner Bibee start on Saturday to have the pitching match up edge? They’ve done well on Sunday so thinking that could help gain an advantage for a series win?

Teddy Cahill: Washington has employed that strategy the last few years. The Huskies were doing it before the Rays were, actually. So while it’s not unheard of in college, it’s also not common, obviously. I’m not sure that it’s worth it though because I think Fullerton’s problem is just that it’s a little light on dependable arms right now. If you want to move Bibee to Saturdays because he’s the most consistent and then you can use the bullpen as much as you want on Friday, I can see that. But mostly this just comes down to the Titans finding another arm or two they can rely on.

Dominic Cella (Louisiana): 

    Do you think LSU is starting to hit there stride?

Teddy Cahill: I do. The LSU I saw last week at Mississippi State looked like a team that could go win the SEC and then make plenty of noise in June, just like we expected coming into the season. I knew there would be growing pains but I also figured the Tigers would get right sooner or later. It looks like they’ve found a pitching set up that works, both in the rotation and the bullpen, and the lineup is being productive. That’s why I moved LSU back into my Eight for Omaha this week. I know I’ve said this on radio, might as well get it in print as well – I think LSU wins the SEC West. Obviously there are a lot of teams that could win it, but I think LSU is going to be the one to do it.

Zane Weiler (Nebraska): 

    What is your opinion on this Nebraska team? Do you think they have a chance to host a regional and if so what has to happen for them to host one?

Teddy Cahill: I think Nebraska is looking good and should be in the mix at the top of the conference all spring. Hosting, however, I think is a long shot. The Huskers are sitting at 40 in the RPI, that would need to improve 15 spots to get in the mix, 20 to feel ok about it. To do it, Nebraska would have to run through the rest of its schedule and establish itself as clearly the best Big Ten team, as Minnesota did last year. And I think it needs to win that Arizona State series next month. I’d want to see Nebraska navigate this next few weeks without hiccup before really evaluating that. Not that I think the Huskers will slip up, but if they can get to the end of April in a solid spot, there’s potential for them to finish very loudly in May.

Dennis (Pasadena): 

    Reactions to Stanford v UCLA? Expectations for the Pac going forward?

Teddy Cahill: Very, very impressed with UCLA. Both in its offense – it scored 21 runs the final two games against what had statistically been the best pitching staff in the country – and in the way it fought back Friday night and bounced back from a really tough loss. That’s a really good Stanford team UCLA just beat on the road. Right now, the Bruins are the clear national title favorites for me. Still a lot of season to play. I think Stanford is still in a pretty good spot overall and the Cardinal did some good things this weekend. But its pitching staff got a bit exposed in a way it hadn’t before. I’ll be interested to see how Stanford adjusts going forward.

Caleb (Oregon): 

    With Abel out, the Beavers have obviously had to make an adjustment. That adjustment being Eisert as the Friday night guy. After a 1-3 start to conference play, they’ve now won 8 straight including sweeps over Washington and Utah. Do you think Eisert should be moved back into the bullpen once Abel comes back? Or do you think Abel, Fehmel, Eisert (Gambrell in the bullpen) would be a more dominate rotation?

Teddy Cahill: I’d put Eisert back in the pen. He’s thrived in that role in a way Gambrell has not. But this is why Nate Yeskie makes the big bucks. That pitching staff gives you so many great options to go to.

Bob richards (Monroe ga): 

    What is Georgia tech’s rpi so low ? 3 games at UCLA. Tech Won1, 1 at auburn tech won it . Georgia 1 game at tech tech won it. 3 at Louisville tech won 2 3 at Miami tech won 1 tech won 2 of 3 against north carolina lots of games against top 10-15 teams

Teddy Cahill: Well, to start with it was home against UCLA. And the RPI does not like the ACC this year, so of all those ACC teams you named, only Louisville is in the top 10. You’re also looking at a team that has played five games against RPI 200+ teams and lost a home game to Richmond (No. 186). All of that is weighing it down.

Thomas (Bath. NC): 

    I never see ECU in the “Eight for Omaha”. What is their weakness?

Teddy Cahill: An open question of just how good it is. ECU is dominating in the American. It’s clearly a good team. But until it goes to UCLA this weekend it will have played two team on the weekend that was projected to make regionals in the preseason (Wright State, which has not lived up to that expectation, and Houston, which loos shaky). So how do the Pirates look against a postseason team with everyone’s best arms going? I don’t know the answer to that yet. And that gives me enough pause to not include ECU right now. We’ll know more in the next two weekends when it gets UCLA and UConn.

Chris (Raleigh): 

    With a huge non-conference series between ECU @ UCLA coming up this weekend, how do you see this one playing out? If ECU takes 1 of 3, would that still be considered an OK weekend for them? Obviously if they win 2 of 3 they are coming back to Greenville with the biggest series win in their program history. Can ECU’s pitchers calm UCLA bats enough?

Teddy Cahill: I don’t think they’d be happy with one win in LA, but at the same time anything more would be an upset. So, I think you take that. It would be big for the RPI obviously. We’ll see how it goes, but as I said, I’m very interested to see how ECU matches up with an elite pitching staff on the weekend.

Teddy Cahill: That’ll do it for today. Thanks to everyone for the questions. We’ll be back here next week, hopefully with more answers.

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