Tennessee pitcher Chase Burns has been one of the most impressive arms in the Vols bullpen this year. The righty boasts a fastball that can touch 102 MPH, as well as an arsenal of offspeed pitches that can keep even the most successful hitter off-balance.
Burns has been a big part of UT’s run to the College World Series, posting a 5-3 record with a 4.25 ERA and a pair saves. He’s been at his best in the postseason, allowing just a single run in four appearances (17 IP).
To get an idea of how difficult it is to make contact off the reliever, here’s what batters are seeing when facing him.
Chase Burns, Wicked Sliders (home plate view).
87mph & 90mph pic.twitter.com/PhkqauWQmS
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 19, 2023
Burns was instrumental in the Vols’ come-from-behind win over the host Tigers in the Clemson regional, striking out eight hitters in 6.1 innings of relief to keep his team in the game. Tennessee would win in extra innings, later advancing to the Supers.
He’d then shut down Southern Miss twice in a two-day span to help UT move on to the College World Series.
Burns made his presence felt in Omaha, coming in for another long relief stint against Stanford on Monday. After seeing his club fall behind early, he’d throw six scoreless innings to again keep the Vols in the game.
Looking at the stat line, you’d have thought Burns was clicking on all cylinders, but that wasn’t necessarily the case.
The reliever was having trouble locating his changeup during warmups, leading him to ask teammate Seth Halvorsen for help. Burns not only took the advice, he took Halvorsen’s grip altogether. This, coming just moments before taking the mound.
“I was just kind of standing there and he asked,” Halvorsen said when asked about his conversation with Burns. “Some of us are superstitious, so I was just standing in the same spot, and we were doing alright, and he was just kind of sitting there. I don’t know if he was just making conversation or if he really wanted to know, but that’s what he was asking me.”
The adjustment paid off.
Chase Burns would go on to strike out nine Stanford batters in those six scoreless innings of work as the Vols came back to win the game.
After the performance, he said the following.
“It was a little bit different than mine, but his grip was working for me. This game is a game of adjustments, so when one thing isn’t working, you can always go to the next. Throwing a pitch like that just opens up many doors. You can throw inside, up, down.”
With the win, the Vols kept their season alive. They’ll face LSU in a rematch Tuesday night for a chance to meet Wake Forest on Wednesday.