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TCU Baseball Weekend Preview: Arizona State

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The Sun Devils and TCU are well matched on paper. The series is going to be a great indication of where both of these teams currently are this season, and the series winner will undoubtedly have some well earned momentum moving forward…

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We’ll call this the barometer series. Like the football team, the Frogs baseball team had nice little warm-ups against Southern Illinois and UT-Arlington. Now, in their second week, this is where things really get fun for TCU. The pitching is there, no question; and for the offense, while it’s been impressive thus far, this series will be a beacon of where they're truly at. But if it’s worth anything, new baseballs aside, I’m a lot more optimistic about this year’s offense than I was about last year’s. And that team muscled their way through to Omaha…

For Arizona State, similar story. They’re coming of four straight wins against teams that are much better than what TCU’s seen. It’s still very early sure, but this Sun Devils team seems like the real deal. Their pitfall, as said in our Q&A this morning, is "stupid mistakes" and if I may, based on the little I’ve seen, this ASU team reminds me a lot of the TCU team that bloomed in April of last year. Solid rotation, phenomenal bullpen--but still a scrappy team offensively that has to grind for every run.

The Sun Devils and TCU are well matched on paper. And like we said above, the series is going to be a great indication of where both of these teams currently are this season, and the series winner will undoubtedly have some well earned momentum moving forward…

Pitching Matchups

Friday: Morrison vs. Lilek

Name

Record

ERA

K/9

BB/9

2014/15

Brett Lilek

0-0

3.86

12.86

8.57

Preston Morrison

1-0

0.00

3.86 2.57

Lilek’s a bizarro Morrison--a lefty that doesn’t get a lot innings in, but makes the best with what he does throw. He only threw 4.2 innings in ASU’s 4-3 win last Friday, but struck out 6 in the process. Lilek’s someone who, when they’re on, is deadly--but in contrast, can fall apart pretty quickly. Having him pitch Friday will give us that desired indication of where TCU’s offense truly is right now and; going into a series against Cal Poly next weekend; and then out in Los Angeles (UCLA, USC, and Vanderbilt) the weekend after.

For Morrison, we know what’s in store; unmatched patience and accuracy. Against someone a little more dubious like Lilek, P-Mo should start TCU off with a win Friday. So many baseball writers have fallen in love with Morrison’s approach over the last four years, and should he continue to look how he did last Friday, we’ll start to see him rake in dividends and finally get his draft stock up.

Saturday: Alexander vs. Kellogg

Name

Record

ERA

K/9

BB/9

Ryan Kellogg

1-0

5.40

7.2

3.6

Tyler Alexander

0-0

0.00

6.75 0.0

More in depth look tomorrow.

Sunday: Young vs. TBA

Name

Record

ERA

K/9

BB/9

TBA

0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00

Alex Young

1-0

0.00 6.00 1.5

More in depth look on Sunday. Arizona's Sunday will likely be Darren Gillies. Although, the Sun Devils didn't seem too impressed with his outing last weekend...

Impact Players

TCU:

Keaton Jones:

Keaton Jones, if anything, has been a surprise offensively. Elsewhere everything's going to plan; Cody Jones has always been consistent--and has looked tremendous thus far--Evan Skoug is living up to his expectations, and Garret Crain is doing a tremendous job in the 5th spot. However, having Keaton compliment his second-to-none defense with a consistent bat, is a tremendous upside for TCU’s run productivity.

Riley Ferrell:

Having Ferrell to anchor games against teams like Arizona State will be crucial, if not necessary, to win series like this weekend. La Flama Blanca’s looked great so far, but he hasn’t been in a high pressure situation yet this season. The good news for TCU fans, is that Ferrell thrives on that. He was at his best in games like Game 3 of the Pepperdine series, and while it skyrocketed everyone else’s blood pressure; Ferrell was as cold as ice.

Other key impacts for the series; Connor Wanhanen, Preston Morrison, and Cody Jones.

Arizona State:

Johnny Sewald:

Sewald is one of just two returning Sun Devils to have had hit over .300 in 2014. Sewald is a lot like Cody Jones in that, as the leadoff hitter and centerfielder, he’s the catalyst that sparks the lineup. If he’s off, the rest of the lineup is likely to be off as well. His speed and being a threat on the basepath (16 SB last year) will be a good defensive test for Skoug.

Ryan Burr:

Like the Horned Frogs, Arizona State has superb bullpen depth. Their closer, Burr is pure flames, striking out 56 batters amid 44 innings of work last season--and collecting 13 saves in the process. One of these games should come down to an exuberant inferno Olympics between Ferrell and Burr--best guess for that would be Saturday; as Alexander versus Ryan Kellogg is the most even pitching matchup we’ll see this weekend.

Prediction

TCU takes it in two games. If this offense looks as good as it did last weekend and Tuesday, there could be a sweep. However--and again--new balls aside, we’ll get a more honest barometer of what’s in store for this offense this weekend. Morrison’s nearly a lock for a win Friday, Saturday is where things get complicated, and the Sunday outlook favors the Frogs.