College Top 25 Chat (3/18/19)
Teddy Cahill: Welcome to this week's college baseball chat. I'm coming to you from Austin, where Texas yesterday wrapped up an impressive series win against Texas Tech. It was another great weekend of baseball around the country, so let's get to your questions.
Luke Rollins (Texas): Don’t you think Texas at number 4 is a little high? Jumping into the top four after barely taking 2/3 at home against Texas Tech seems a little stretched to me.
Teddy Cahill: Let's start with Texas. Uh, no, I don't think No. 4 is a little high. We literally made that decision less than 18 hours ago. The Horns have played one of the toughest schedules out there and they've done very well against it. I made this point on the podcast, which will be up later, but there are teams with gaudier records, yes. But those teams still have unanswered questions because they haven't been tested. Texas has. I feel like we have a pretty good handle on what this team is already. And I feel rather comfortable that as we sit here on March 18, that the Horns have earned the No. 4 ranking.
Rodney (Austin): Texas is getting a lot of love this week in the rankings. Does this have to do with the opponents they are playing? Because record wise, it's hard to see how they are a top 5 team right now.
Teddy Cahill: Yes. If you want to line the teams up by winning percentage, go right ahead, but you don't need our help for htat. We want to reward teams for testing themselves and Texas, as always, has done that.
Jon (College station): where does texas a&m stand?
Teddy Cahill: Texas A&M is somewhat confounding. I thought A&M needed Doxakis and Lacy to be at their best to win series against premium competition, but this weekend showed that isn't necessarily true. The Aggies looked great at the Shriners College Classic with those guys leading the way. But they showed something else this weekend against Vanderbilt. I think A&M is a good team and figures to be in the mix in the SEC West race. But I think they are going to need to find some more offensive consistency as the season continues.
Brett (Stillwater, Ok): I was a little surprised to see that Auburn only moved up one spot in this weeks poll after a series sweep against #21 Tennessee. Auburn looked really good this series. Statistically speaking, UT had one of the better pitching staffs in the country coming into the weekend. Was the only one spot bump due to the performance of the teams in front of them, or has their overall body of work not been convincing enough to this point?
Teddy Cahill: Lining up teams 11-21 or so was incredibly challenging this week. We had teams like NC State, Louisville and Georgia making loud statements, we had teams like Florida State and Texas Tech falling into that mix and we had Texas A&M and Arizona State demanding to be included. So it was a mess and ultimately Auburn only ticked up a spot for sweeping then-No. 25 Tennessee at home. Honestly, I'm not sure what to make of Tennessee right now. But Auburn has a chance this weekend to make a really loud statement and dramatically improve its position as it takes on Mississippi State.
Betsy (Pineville, NC): Why did ECU drop from 17 to 20 in the NCAA pole when they swept Maryland along with a perfect game??
Teddy Cahill: Isn't it enough that I have to answer for our own rankings without making me explain someone else's?
Will (Jackson, MS): How do you think a best of 3 series between UCLA and MSU would play out if it happened right now?
Teddy Cahill: I think Adam Plutko and Nick Vander Tuig would shove and then, oh, wait, you said right now. Well, I think UCLA wins. I think it's a good series but I think I like the depth of the Bruins' pitching staff. It's going to be low scoring, but with Ryan Garcia now healthy, I think UCLA can match up with Mississippi State's two-headed monster at the front of the rotation. And then I like UCLA's offense, especially if Chase Strumpf, Michael Toglia and Matt McLain are able to build on what they did this weekend against Oregon State. But I'd certainly love to see that series happen - now or in June.
Adam (New York, NY): What does Miami have to do to get back to the field of 64 after a two year absence
Teddy Cahill: I think Miami is doing what it needs to do. The Canes' are off to a nice start to the season at 15-5 and they played well at North Carolina this weekend. The offense looks to be improved - Alex Toral continues to mash, particularly - and that rotation has good potential with McKendry and McMahon at the front. Miami has to keep that going into the heart of ACC play, but it is well positioned already to return to the NCAA Tournament in Gino DiMare's first season as head coach.
Brian (Phoenix): Do you think the Pac12 is a five team race now with UCLA, Stanford, Oregon State, ASU and Washington?
Teddy Cahill: It's a little early to declare this a five-horse race for me. I think UCLA, Stanford and Oregon State are still out ahead. UCLA and Stanford, especially, I think are two of the very best teams in the country. I have some doubts about Oregon State on that level, but the Beavers are still clearly ahead of Arizona State and Washington for me. The league's depth is definitely improved, however, and it's unlikely anyone runs away with the title this year.
OMA19 (Corvallis): You don't have Oregon State in your Eight for Omaha. What do you think the Beavs need to do to (or improve on) to make it back to Nebraska?
Teddy Cahill: Let's be clear about this before I get into it - if Omaha had nine or 10 teams in the field, Oregon State would be in my hypothetical Nine Or Ten For Omaha. But I have to cut it at eight. I think it's a lack of consistency that's keeping the Beavers out right now. I know some people might point to Florida State or Florida and wonder how I'm excusing them from that, but I have more belief in their young hitters and how they're going to develop. I just still see the Beavers as being rather dependent on Rutschman. He can carry a big load, no doubt, and McGarry has done a good job stepping up. But I think those two need some more help, just in terms of guys getting on base for them.
Abel (Lyon France): Should I be concerned about my Titans in Fullerton? They are eay too talented to be this inconsistent. What are your thoughts??
Teddy Cahill: Abel remains my favorite chatter. Sorry, y'all, but the number of college baseball fans in France that I encounter is pretty minimal. Anyway, I think it's fair to be concerned right now. James Madison is solid and can pitch, but getting shut out in back-to-back games at home? That's not what you want. But I also think it's fair to A) look around the Big West and see that pretty much only UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara are playing well right now and B) look at what Fullerton did last year and has a history of doing and believe that it will get straightened out by May. But this offense needs some help right now. There's just a lack of impact in that lineup and that's not going to dramatically change in the next two months. The Titans need to figure out how to score runs even with that limitation.
John (Texas): Which team has the best starting rotation in the nation? The best bullpen? Did any rotation and/or bullpen standout to you this week?
Teddy Cahill: I was, for whatever reason, thinking about this a lot last night. I will take Oregon State's bullpen - Eisert, Chamberlain and Mulholland make for an outstanding trio. Runner up may be Texas, though the Horns are pretty young in the pen. In the rotation, I'm probably taking North Carolina's trio of Gianluca Dalatri, Tyler Baum and Austin Bergner, but that's not as clearcut. Mississippi State's 1-2 punch may well be the best and Keegan James is a pretty solid Sunday starter. If you put Ryan Garcia in UCLA's rotation, which should happen very soon now that he's back, the Bruins stack up very well. If Christian Roa is going to keep doing what he did against Vanderbilt, Texas A&M stacks up very well. And Nick Lodolo looks like the best pitcher in the country, which puts TCU in this discussion as well. Georgia is electric. Louisville has been impressive. There's a lot of good pitching out there.
Bo (St. Louis, MO): Has any member of the BA staff ever seen a college baseball game in the state of Missouri?
Teddy Cahill: Current staff? Yeah, Dave Serrano coached at Tennessee. If the question is has BA ever sent anyone to cover a game in Missouri, then probably still yes, but I can't possibly track everywhere my predecessors went over the last 40 years.
Brett (Stillwater): It may be too early on in the season for this question, but I am curious, is there is a team off everyone's radar right now that you could see really surprising some folks before the end of the year?
Teddy Cahill: Already referenced the podcast once, so I'll plug it again. I asked Joe to give us a team that we're not talking about now but should be and he mentioned Indiana State. The Sycamores are building a strong resume already and look like they should be able to contend for the Missouri Valley title. I also think Houston and UConn have slipped below the radar in the early going. They're going to make some noise later, whether that's contending with ECU for the American title or during the NCAA Tournament.
Allen (Ky): Have you ever come across a college baseball player with a bluegrass music walkup song?
Teddy Cahill: While I am a connoisseur of walkup songs, I am not of bluegrass music. So, honestly, if I have, I wouldn't know it.
Zach (Tallahassee): What are your thoughts on FSU after this past week?
Teddy Cahill: Not great, Bob. But, at the same time, this 'Noles team is so young that growing pains were inevitable and expected. They very nearly win that series at NC State as it is. I'm very interested to see how they respond to this. I'm probably most concerned about the starting pitching right now. But, perhaps stubbornly, I still they rebound and are fine. Mike Martin has been through this before and there's plenty of talent there.
Jimmy (Arizona): Why is UVA struggling so much so far this season?
Teddy Cahill: Virginia has some real issues, none of which are particularly surprising. The Cavs are young on the mound and it shows. They're good offensively but don't really have scary bats. I didn't expect Virginia to be 9-10 at this point, but I get how it's happened. It's strange to see given the program's recent heights, but also given where they were last year, it's not strange. They need to get right this week against Pitt because it's not getting any easier the rest of the way.
Chris (Raleigh): With ECU's weekend pitching staff really starting to take shape in Jake Agnos and Jake Kuchmanor, what do you expect from the Pirates entering conference play? I would say their bats are average, maybe slightly above. Is this the year for ECU's first ever trip to Omaha?
Teddy Cahill: There's nothing average about Bryant Packard, Spencer Brickhouse and Alec Burleson. And the pitching staff is starting to really find its form. So, yeah, ECU could go to Omaha - the Pirates are No. 14 in the country for a reason. But if you're asking me if they will, well, they're not in my Eight for Omaha. But this is a really good team and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see them break through this year.
Rich (Detroit): Anything on the upcoming top 25 matchup between Michigan and Texas Tech? Is this pitching staff from Michigan going to hold up against some power bats from Tech?
Teddy Cahill: It's going to be very interesting, especially because of the unique nature of this "series." Stetson is also going to be in Lubbock this weekend and Texas Tech is playing on five straight days. So I have no idea how Texas Tech is going to line up, which makes analyzing the matchup with Michigan on the first half of the weekend difficult. I will say that Texas Tech is very good overall and its lineup is also very dangerous in Lubbock. So Michigan will have its hands full. But this is also a very good Wolverines team. I'm very interested to see how it plays out.
Jackson (Jackson): Going to be a fun weekend at Dudy Noble with some elite pitching matchups against Auburn. What are your thoughts on the weekend?
Teddy Cahill: That Tanner Burns vs. Ethan Small showdown is going to be a fun one. This is Auburn's biggest test of the year so far and Mississippi State needs to avoid any lapse after a huge series win. Welcome to the SEC West this season. There's going to be series like this every weekend. It's going to be a lot of fun to watch
Matt (VA): Which freshman are impressing the most this season thus far?
Teddy Cahill: This is a good question to get out of here on. We'll have a season to date overview at BA this week, including a Freshman of the Year watch list. So look for that, which goes into more depth. But the short answer is that JT Ginn is the truth.
Teddy Cahill: Thanks for all your questions today. I've got to go get on a plane.