A collective cheer rippled across the Ole Miss baseball fandom when Sam Smith was named the surprise midweek starter against Louisville on Wednesday, meaning, so we thought, that he was being yanked from the Sunday role he's been so bad in this season.
No such luck ... maybe.
The thought was that Jacob Waguespack would move from the bullpen to replace Smith as the Sunday starter, but that theory went to hell on Friday night in Baton Rouge when Wags came in to relieve Christian Trent in the eighth (the Rebs lost to LSU, 6-4).
Wags has just four starts in his two-plus year career and none this season, but with a 0.60 ERA and a .184 opponent batting average coming into the weekend, he's been one of the most consistent arms on the team. So why not give him at a chance at a starting role, particularly with Smith pitching so poorly?
It's not that Smith can't pitch, it's that he can't pitch past the third inning. In his four weekend starts, he has a 1.50 ERA during the first three frames. His ERA in the fourth inning or later is 27.0 (no, that's not a misprint). So you could theoretically move him to the pen and get a couple quality innings out of him as a short reliever.
So Wags pitching in Game 1 against LSU means one of two things in regards to Smith:
1) Smith is still our Sunday guy and we'll use a platoon approach behind him.
Assuming that he can get a few good innings out of Smith, Mike Bianco might start him on Sundays then automatically pull him in the fourth inning (or earlier), like he did against Louisville earlier this week. Then the Rebs cobble together relievers for the rest of the day.
It's also possible that Bianco was planning on making a change at the Sunday spot but Smith's impressive outing on Wednesday (four hits, one earned run in four innings against the No. 8 team in the country) changed his mind.
2. Someone other than Smith or Wags pitches on Sunday.
Of course, it's entirely possible that Smith's still out and that someone other than Wags will replace him. But who? The only tenable option is Scott Weathersby, who saw action on Tuesday but only threw 1.1 innings. My first thought is that Weathersby is too valuable on the back end, but it's certainly possible.
Maybe freshman Will Stokes, who has a respectable 2.79 ERA through three appearances. Reliable reliever Wyatt Short isn't exactly starting material and midweek starter Evan Anderson has been awful (7.00 ERA through 18 innings).
If I had to guess now, I'd say we'll still be watching Smith on Sunday in Baton Rouge. We'll find out soon.