HOOVER, Ala. — Only one guy on the Arkansas baseball team has his own page at the Internet Movie Database. So when first-year Razorbacks pitching coach Wes Johnson was handing out nicknames upon his arrival to Fayetteville this spring, an opportunity was missed to call pitcher Jake Reindl “Hollywood.”
A Fayetteville native and Shiloh High product, Reindl is anything but a Tinseltown type. A man into “nerdy stuff” — his words — Reindl is a soft-spoken sophomore right-hander out of the Razorbacks bullpen. His would-be nickname comes from his cameo in the film Greater, released in 2016. The movie is a tribute to former Arkansas walk-on offensive lineman Brandon Burlsworth. Reindl’s father, Brian, was one of the movie’s writers. Jake had a bit part, simply called “Stadium Vendor” in the credits.
“I have one line,” Reindl said. ” ‘Change?’ With that question mark at the end.”
Alas, no Academy Award for the dialogue. Instead, Reindl will have to settle for leading the SEC in earned-run average during conference play.
Not exactly a small feat, considering the SEC is arguably the best conference in college baseball. And Reindl is a something of a surprise. He pitched in 6 games last year, his freshman season. When fall ball came around, Reindl looked like he could be bigger part of the Razorbacks bullpen come spring if he became more consistent. In time, it happened.
Now his 0.67 ERA is tops in the SEC by almost a complete run and his .189 batting average against is sixth best in the conference.
“We knew it was coming. We just didn’t know how soon,” Johnson said. “I can’t say we knew he was going to lead the league in ERA, but we knew he was going to be able to help us quite a bit.”
Reindl’s season statistics are something else. He is at the top of this list in several categories when it comes to pitching in SEC games only.
Johnson didn’t see it coming this season. Head coach Dave Van Horn didn’t see it coming. Heck, Reindl didn’t even have an inkling. He was just trying to make the team in fall ball. He logged 5 innings in 2016 and was low on Razorbacks offseason bullpen depth charts.
“I don’t think anybody could have said ‘he’s going to have this kind of year, that kind of year,'” Reindl said. “I honestly don’t know. Just kind of came out of nowhere.”
And it’s not as though his stuff is especially glamorous. His fastball tops out at 92 mph. Reindl considers himself a simple sinker/slider pitcher. Go for ground balls, stay around the plate. His cutter developed quite a bit, though. That’s part of the difference.
“Just goes to show, a 95 mile-an-hour fastball, you can hit,” Van Horn said. “But sometimes that cutter at 88, 89, it’s moving. It’s like a hard, hard slider without as much movement. It’s easier to control.”
That’s where Reindl’s actual nickname came from: “Hammer.”
Turns out, it fits just fine, even if a film career hasn’t.