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D1Baseball Weekly Chat: April 15

Chats

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SEE ALSO: Top 25 Rankings


PortlandOR: Oregon State looking impressive in the desert—but do the Beavs have the pitching depth OR offense to make a serious run at another CWS title? Without Abel, it’s gonna be real tough.
Kendall Rogers: Portland, I think the Beavers have the pitching to get to Omaha for sure. Eisert/Fehmel and now Gambrell make up a solid three-man rotation and I like the bullpen duo of Christian Chamberlain and Jake Mulholland, while Mitchell Verburg was electric and up to 95 yesterday afternoon. With that said, the Beavers get the job done offensively, but lack scary bats outside of Adley Rutschman. I could see OSU going cold in a regional or something, but man, it’s hard to bet against those guys.


Eric Simmons : Is Florida State back in the NCAA Tournament discussion after that enormous sweep of Clemson? That was a really huge sweep by the Seminoles! Your thoughts on Florida State?
Kendall Rogers: Eric — Definitely. RPI is still in the 70s but trending the right direction. FSU has a decently favorable schedule the rest of the way and it should rack up a lot of wins. I’m intrigued to see how the Noles finish the regular season — this weekend probably saved their season.


BestCoast: What was the thought process for Irvine dropping out of the Top 25? They lost midweek to #1 UCLA & played relatively well against #10 UCSB on the road (though they got swept). Also, is there any chance that they can still host if they take care of business down the stretch or are they destined for UCLA’s regional?
Kendall Rogers: Best — Irvine’s resume isn’t loaded with marquee wins and it had an 0-4 week. right now, UCI is in the 50s from an RPI standpoint, so becoming a Top 16 is probably out of the question at this point. The Anteaters would pretty much have to go bonkers from a W total standpoint the rest of the season to get anywhere near that point. UCI seems destined to be a No. 2 regional seed at this point, but we’ll see.


Randy D: Does Texas turn the ship around after a couple floundering weeks? Tough schedule remains but it seems they are sinking to the bubble
Kendall Rogers: Randy — I’m definitely not throwing in the towel on Texas, but something has been missing the past few weeks and it all started after that meltdown against TCU in the Sunday game. UT struggled mightily against Xavier, split with Baylor and was putrid at times offensively against Kansas State at home this past weekend. Big weekend ahead for UT with Oklahoma State on the road, especially with the league record dipping under .500.


Heel: With a favorable upcoming schedule, can UNC take a step towards getting back in the hosting discussion the next few weeks?
Aaron Fitt: Yeah, the Tar Heels are No. 19 in the RPI, so that’s right in the hosting discussion. Could use some more quality wins, but they’re back to a decent spot in the ACC at 10-8, and I expect them to finish strong down the stretch.


Scott: How does Louisiana Tech’s post season hopes look after this weekend?
Kendall Rogers: Louisiana Tech is suddenly in very solid shape from a postseason standpoint. The Bulldogs have a really nice 10-5 league record and the RPI is up to 33. We’ll likely have them in when we meet later tonight. Big weekend for the ‘Dogs against FAU — that’s for sure.


BullDawg: MIssissippi State has the most wins in the nation and a top 10 RPI with 5 series left. My thoughts are that they can afford to drop 1 of the 5 and still host a Super, or drop 2 of the 5 and only get a regional host. Your thoughts?
Aaron Fitt: If they drop two of those final five series — let’s say that puts them at 18-12 in the SEC. I think they’d still be very much in the top-8 discussion at that point, and certainly still a strong bet to host. A lot will depend how the SEC standings shake out, when it comes to the pecking order with those seeds. And of course head-to-head results will matter a lot. Arkansas, Georgia and A&M are all vying for hosting spots as well, and MSU still has to play all three.


DtownKat: Sam Houston is in line to win the Southland Conference Regular season title this year. Will that be enough to make the post season, or will they need to win the conference tournament as well? Last year was heartbreaking after winning the regular season, but failing to make the post season.
Aaron Fitt: I think our bracketology historian Mark Etheridge would tell you that Southland teams don’t have a great history of getting at-large bids, even after winning the regular-season title. That said, Sam Houston figures to score well with the regional advisory committee, because that team’s talent is very legitimate — and that could help get the Bearkats in if they finish in the 40s in the RPI with a regular-season SLC crown. Certainly that’s bubble territory, and it’s hard to envision them getting into the 30s in the RPI, which would probably make them a slam dunk.


Brock: Tennessee currently sits at 6-9 in the SEC with a top 10 RPI.  I know there has been talk in recent years that conference teams need to be .500 or better to get an at-large bid.  Do you think the Vols need to reach that 15 win mark or can they get in with 13 or 14 given the strength of their RPI?
Aaron Fitt: Yeah I think that .500 in conference talk is silly, and I certainly hope the committee doesn’t draw a line in the sand there, because I think that’s arbitrary and unfair, especially since plenty of teams have gotten in with 13 and 14 conference wins in the past. And yes, given Tennessee’s RPI and 9-9 record against the top 50 and some nice series wins, I do think it will be in if it gets to 14 SEC wins, and maybe even 13. But heck, I thought Kentucky should have gotten in last year with 13, and they were snubbed, so the Vols would feel a whole lot better about themselves if they could get a couple more than that.


Chandler: What do you think Nebraska’s chances are at making a regional?
Kendall Rogers: Chandler — Looking really good right now with an RPI in the 30s and a strong Big Ten record. With that said, those three of the four final weekends against Illinois, Arizona State and Michigan will be huge. There’s an outside shot Nebraska could get into the Top 16 range if it ran the table and won all those series.


Spear15: What is it going to take for FSU to get into the field, considering their lack of RPI boosting opportunities? I know they would never come out and say it, but would you expect the committee to be forgiving to 11 if it’s close?
Aaron Fitt: Yeah, the RPI reality is still not great for FSU. According to the RPI Needs Report at Boyd’s World, the Noles need to win out to finish inside the top 32 in the RPI, and they need to win 17 or 18 of their final 20 just to break into the top 45. That’s just a rough guideline, and of course the ACC tournament could present additional RPI boosting opportunities ‚ we’ve seen FSU make big leaps in the RPI in the ACC tourney before. But we know this much, this isn’t gonna be easy. It’s doable — sweeping Clemson was absolutely huge. But not easy. Ultimately, I don’t think sentimentality will play into it — the committee will put FSU in if it thinks the Seminoles are deserving, and that’s that.


h.richard.steinfeld@att.net: Status of Beau Phillips, Oregon State please
Kendall Rogers: Sounds like he will be out for a bit with a hamstring strain. I’ll touch base with Pat Bailey later this week on that ….


Westwood123: Love what I’m seeing from the Bruins this year…but can’t help think back to 2015. #1 overall national seed, having lost only one series that year…then get upset by Maryland in the first round of the regional. What’s different about this team than 2015?
Aaron Fitt: Boy, that 2015 team was really good too — and I don’t think that team had some fatal flaw that led to an inevitable upset. They just got beat by a very good and red-hot Maryland team — file it under “that’s baseball.” Ultimately, that has nothing to do with this year’s Bruins, who are the clear-cut national title front-runner, at this point. That doesn’t mean they’re gonna win it all — the No. 1 national seed hasn’t won it all since 1999, because it’s the hottest team that usually wins the CWS, not the “best” team.


DEVIN: How do you guys see ASU? Their pitching is slowly but surely starting to make a negative impact on their games now. Totally imploded against UNLV and I thought they could’ve won the series against the Beavs this weekend. Do they have the pitching to make a deep postseason run?
Aaron Fitt: Well, nobody ever thought ASU’s pitching was elite. The question is, is it good enough to keep ASU afloat given its elite offense and talented defense? And I think the answer is yes. I don’t think ASU’s pitching will carry it to Omaha, obviously. But its bats very well could, if they are hot at the right time — like they were for the entire first half of the season. I’m still not abandoning Arizona State after a couple of bad weeks, still think that team is going to be a major factor down the stretch and in the postseason.


Eric Simmons : Why isn’t Miami Ohio ranked when they’re 29-6?
Kendall Rogers: Eric –I featured those guys a few weeks ago in Under The Radar, so I would search for that story on the site and check it out. Those guys have some nice arms and some quality bats at the top of the lineup. Love what Danny Hayden and his staff are doing this season, but the resume is definitely a little light right now to be a Top 25 club. Very, very solid team, but light resume to warrant a Top 25 ranking, IMO.


Evan: How many hosts do you think the ACC will get? Seems like a down year for the conference. Will the committee feel pressure to reserve at least three or four based off the ACC’s tradition? Or maybe even for regional representation?
Aaron Fitt: At this point, I think the ACC winds up with 3 or 4, even though I agree that it’s a down year for the league (but in a strong year, it gets 5 or even 6). I think Louisville, Georgia Tech, NC State, Clemson, MIami and UNC are all right there in the thick of the hosting race, and I’d be shocked if fewer than three of them wind up with legitimate hosting resumés.


Brandon: Is it time to officially downgrade Texas Tech from national title contender to simply a host contender?
Kendall Rogers: Brandon, I would say not yet. I still have faith in Texas Tech. The Red Raiders are much like Louisville was for me coming into the weekend series at NC State. I think Tech has huge potential, but it definitely hasn’t played to level that I can so far this season. It was nice to see Caleb Kilian throw well yesterday, but at some point, I think the Red Raiders will break out and show that dominant attribute.


Matt: Curious where you feel Iowa stands right now in the at-large picture. RPI is a bit high, but some decent series wins (Illinois, Okie State) and some decent opportunities left (Nebraska, Irvine). Thoughts?
Kendall Rogers: Matt — I think Iowa is a solid club, but with an RPI around 90 — it will need to take that Nebraska and UC Irvine series and go from there. If they can take both of those series, they’d make up some serious ground in the RPI. But then there also are series against Ohio State and Michigan State, which have RPIs north of 150. Very small margin for error right now for the Hawkeyes.


Max G.: Is Jeremy Ydens set to return to the UCLA line up in the CAL series? Do you see him taking over some playing time for Fr. Matt McClain?
Aaron Fitt: As of last week, John Savage told me to expect Ydens back this coming week, so assuming there haven’t been any setbacks you should see him soon. And I think he’s definitely got to be in the lineup. Obviously McLain has struggled, but it’s hard to envision the Bruins abandoning a first-round talent… so this is going to be interesting. You can’t take Stronach out of the lineup, and Pries has been good. I’ll be interested to see how it shakes out. I don’t have the answer. Maybe McLain sees his playing time reduced some, but I’d be shocked if they bury him.


Jim: Phenomenal series by Louisiana Tech at FAU taking 2 of 3 on the road. RPI is up to 33 now. Assuming they continue this level of play, is their at-large spot secured and did they come up in any of the top 25 talks this weekend?
Aaron Fitt: Yeah, we had Louisiana Tech right there in the Top 25 debate — tough time deciding between those guys and Tennessee and Indiana and a few others for the last spot or two, but ultimately La Tech’s resumé is still a little light on high-end wins. This was a great weekend on the road, though, and I do think it puts the Bulldogs on very good at-large footing, which is what matters.


Bobbruinbear : Should California win this weekend’s upcoming series with UCLA, would they have any chance of cracking into the Top 25?
Aaron Fitt: Certainly! The Bears are definitely on my radar — they’re hot right now, with three straight series wins, and a nice road series win this weekend at Arizona. I saw Cal early and again last week, and I do think their talent is very intriguing, especially the physicality in that lineup. Think they’re capable of making some noise down the stretch. A series win against UCLA, given the Bruins’ incredible body of work to this point, would very likely land the Bears in the Top 25 — and put them in great at-large position.


Sean: How many bids could the WCC get? We haven’t had more than 1 big for the last 5-6 years but with 3 teams in the top 40 of RPI I like chances of more than 1.
Kendall Rogers: Sean — I like the league to be a two-bid league at the moment. I think LMU would be in as of today, and I think BYU/Gonzaga/Pepperdine would take one spot. I’d probably lean BYU at this point.


Tate: Do you think that Texas A&M’s offense has enough punch to keep them in the top 10 in the country throughout SEC play? I know the pitching is stellar and can prop them up.. but I just didn’t predict the Ags to be in the position they are currently at in mid-April.
Kendall Rogers: Tate,
A&M actually reminds me a lot of Oregon State right now. The Aggies probably have a bit more punch offensively than OSU, but are loaded on the mound (with a better starting rotation) and a similar bullpen. Neither team has a potent offense, while both teams have a stud in the middle of the lineup in Rutschman and Shewmake, respectively. The Aggies have little margin for error on the mound, but it’s worked so far. No reason to think it can’t continue to work.


Jeff: How secure is Florida in the NCAA Tournament field?
Aaron Fitt: Right now I’d have Florida in the “bubble-in” category. Just 6-9 in the SEC and 3-9 vs. the top 25, those are legit benefits. No. 27 in the RPI is fine, and 3-0 against teams 26-50, so those are good things. So is that 3-0 record vs. FSU in midweek, even though FSU is only in the 60s in the RPI. Ultimately, I think Florida will get to 14-plus SEC wins and be just fine for an at-large. But like any SEC team, Gators would be in trouble if they finish below 14 SEC wins.


Jay: Just hoping with nothing at this point, does South Carolina have to finish 11-4 in conference in there final 15 and get to 15-15 overall to make the postseason? Is that the number?
Kendall Rogers: Jay — South Carolina would need to get at least a couple of spots below .500 to get to the postseason. If the Gamecocks did that — they’d probably have enough RPI love to get in. But I’m not sure that’d remotely expected at this point. They’re in quite a hole.


Clint: With one game separating 1st place and 7th place in the SEC and ten teams in the RPI top 25. Do you think think could be the strongest SEC year in a while and how many teams do you think makes regionals?
Aaron Fitt: I think you can make a case that this is an even stronger year for the SEC than normal… although it’s weird to make that case in a year with South Carolina and Florida both down. But Missouri and Tennessee are up, which helps make up for it. I dunno, I suppose the more I think about it, the more it feels like “just another year in the SEC” — this kind of depth is pretty much par for the course now. Anyway, we’ll break it down in the nerdcast tonight, but I think 10 SEC teams in regionals feels like a strong bet, and I wouldn’t rule out 11.


Colton: DBU is 25-10 and not ranked. They’ve beaten 4 top 25 teams, how close are they to being ranked?
Kendall Rogers: Colton — I actually looked at DBU when I was putting together my teams to consider, but that series loss to Evansville two weekends ago kept them from getting in. Had the Patriots won that series, I think they’d be sitting in a pretty good spot. Really solid club, but not really deserving to be ranked at this very second, IMO.


Guest: Believe this took too long to show Miami the respect they have earned this year. Playing Florida each year in the second week is held against them ifnthewhile others can lose series to inferior teams and have no effect. After taking the series from GA Tech they should have been in the top 25 and now in the teens.  Trying to hold on to early rankings and justify them is an issue. Just look at how long it took Conn to fall out.
Aaron Fitt: Yeah, you’re not making any sense here, Chumley. We had UConn ranked for one week, and they fell out immediately after losing a series. Miami went 1-5 in back-to-back weekends against UNC and NC State, in addition to that early Florida series win. It’s not unreasonable to wait for a little more consistency before ranking a team that missed regionals each of the last two years.


Eric Simmons : Can California make the NCAA Tournament?
Kendall Rogers: Absolutely. The Golden Bears have played well as of late and have such a huge opportunity this weekend at UCLA. Cal is at 60 in the RPI with a winning league record and decent overall record. I think I’d have Cal in as of today — but there’s a long way to go until Selection Monday and my fellow nerds might disagree with me on that later tonight!


Joe: Is it time for Auburn to move on from Butch Thompson
Kendall Rogers: Uh …. what? Auburn is without two weekend starters (Davis Daniel and Jack Owen). I get that the Tigers are struggling right now, but that’s nonsense.
Aaron Fitt: Haha. That’s gotta be a troll job. Well done, Joe!
Aaron Fitt: OK guys, that’s it for me today, see you next week! Happy Patriots’ Day.


Guest: With the expectations coming into the season and the season he has had has Rutschman solidified his status at 1-1 in the draft or are there others who have crept into the conversation?
Kendall Rogers: I see no change with Rutschman as my 1-1 at the moment. And I also don’t see anyone taking that from him. But you never know.


HTownKat: Did ya’ll notice what cowser did this past weekend?  6-12 w 3 HR’s.  Will Sam have to win the Southland to make the 64?
Kendall Rogers: Town — I think as of right now, Sam would be in no matter what, but man, it’s really close with an RPI of 47. As for Cowser, that doesn’t surprise me too much. I really, really liked him in the fall and he’s only met those expectations.


SJ: regarding the 3rd paid assistant discussion, Am I understanding correctly that the Volunteer position is eliminated?
Kendall Rogers: SJ — It depends. If a school chooses to make the volunteer role a paid coach, yes, no more volunteer. If a school chooses not to pay, volunteer position stays.

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