Starting pitching

Dave Van Horn said at Swatter’s Club on Monday that Jackson Rutledge would start Tuesday in the 6:30 p.m. game with Louisiana-Monroe. The Tuesday game is TBA. As far as the weekend, Blaine Knight and Kacey Murphy would start the first two games against Auburn. The Sunday game (set for 4 p.m.) is TBA. It could be Isaiah Campbell, set to throw a bullpen in the next two days. Campbell skipped a turn because of a sore arm. It could also be Rutledge.

Keaton McKinney is still down with soreness in his elbow after Tommy John surgery a little more than 12 months ago. Van Horn said Monday it’s up to McKinney when he might be able to pitch in a game.

Casey Optiz is scheduled to be the starting catcher in the Tuesday game, with Grant Koch getting a day off.

There was one interesting exchange from the audience at Swatter’s Club. The question had to do with Koch’s positioning behind home plate. The fan thought Koch was positioned a little deep in the catcher’s box. Van Horn said, “I’m going to give you Grant’s number and you can ask him. Actually, I’ll mention to him that it came up today at Swatter’s Club. Seriously, we’ve talked to him about that. He’s where he feels most comfortable.”

It’s interesting to me that the question on Koch’s positioning would be about his defensive position, and not his placement in the batter’s box on offense. Personally, I don’t question either because Grant is an all-star level player and I am not; I assume he (and his coaches) understand where he needs to be in both instances.

That said, when I watch him bat, I do wonder if he wouldn’t be better served by being 2 or 3 inches closer to the plate. He’s so far back in the box that opposing pitchers live on the outside part of the plate (often, a couple of inches outside of that), making it very difficult for him to even reach pitches that are called strikes. If the umpire on a given day is giving the pitcher a generous outside zone, then Grant is in a big hole.

However, again, these are the musings of a self-admittedly mediocre athlete. I’m sure Grant is aware of this and feels he is where he can best hit the ball.

As for where he’s positioned on defense - I never questioned that. I’m curious - was the question brought up in the context of so many balls getting past him in recent games?

I’d like to know the answer to that, too.

I’d never question how far back behind home plate he sets up. The last thing in the world I want is a catcher who is worried–especially with justification–about getting hit by a bat. He’s playing the most dangerous position in baseball. The “tools of ignorance” didn’t come from nowhere. My daughter played catcher on her HS girls softball team (she was All-state by the way) & I cringed having her back there.

I don’t think he is too deep behind the plate but i do think he is too far away when he’s batting,he will never get the barrel on a ball on the outside corner and with his power they aren’t going to throw him inside much.I have heard he doesn’t like to get jammed but like I said with his power he doesn’t see many inside unless its a mistake and that is really all he’s hitting right now.I think 4-5 more inches in and he would Barrel up a lot more pitches.

Maybe he was talking about where he was in the batter’s box. I’ll get that clarified. The question came from across the room. Van Horn didn’t clarify. He just said he’d let the fan tell Koch. And, maybe it was about his position as a hitter, not as a catcher. He’s looked deep in both areas to me. I played catcher growing up. I’ve had umpires tell me to scoot up because it would help my pitchers, so I always did.

In clarification, others at Swatter’s Club closer to the fan who asked the question said he was asking about where Koch was standing in the batter’s box. It will be interesting to see if Koch moves up any.

The many replay reviews came up Monday at Swatter’s Club. Van Horn said he likes it and is pleased with the results. He said the replays have eliminated most of the arguments from coaches in SEC play this year. He said umpires seem fine with it and have checked even past when coaches have had challenges available. He said they seem to want to get it right.