May 14, 2017 7:20:56 PM
Losing a series to a team on the fringe of qualifying for the SEC Tournament is not the best way to go into the final week of the regular season, sure. But, I didn't see much to inspire a sense of panic around the team. In fact, I think these three questions are just about all there is to show real concern about.
Will MSU try a different No. 3 starter?
Those of you that follow me on Twitter know I really like Jacob Billingsley. That being said, his last three starts in that role have not been good enough: 7 1/3 innings (yes, in three starts), 8 hits, 7 runs (all earned), 4 walks, 6 strikeouts, one double and two home runs allowed. With LSU, the SEC Tournament and a potential Starkville regional up ahead, MSU needs better than that from a No. 3 starter. Now we wait and see whether that's from an improved Billingsley or someone else.
What is Hunter Vansau's role?
The way I see it, MSU has 4 players for three spots: Cody Brown, Elijah MacNamee, Hunter Vansau and Tanner Poole for left field, right field and designated hitter. (Harrison Bragg is obviously a candidate for designated hitter as well, I know, but just play along with me.)
Cannizaro has raved about Tanner Poole's defense to the point that he has said publicly he's willing to deal with his work-in-progress bat to keep him there. Cody Brown seems settled into left field. In that configuration, MSU has to leave either MacNamee or Vansau -- both of whom have been quite effective -- on the bench. More times than not that's been Vansau (not disagreeing, just stating fact) and he's still been hitting the ball like crazy: from April 21 to now, his batting average has climbed from .250 to .318.
We did see MacNamee sub into right field for Poole in the Sunday loss at Georgia. Is Cannizaro toying with getting more offensive (Poole is hitting just .232 this year), or was that a one-game thing when MSU was needing offense for a comeback?
Who starts on Tuesday?
It's a big question since MSU is coming off a Sunday game and has to start the series against LSU on Thursday. MSU will need someone to really eat some innings on this one.
Peyton Plumlee probably would've been a good candidate -- and still can be, I suppose -- but doing so after throwing 4 innings Saturday would be tough. Trey Jolly could do it, having only thrown to one batter in the Georgia series. I'd imagine Jacob Barton is available for that kind of role, too.