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TCU Baseball: UTPA Tuesday Night Preview

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On St. Patricks Day, Tyler Alexander and the Horned Frogs kick off a huge week of baseball with UT-Pan American...

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a sweep against Baylor--whose fans by the way, have basically regarded this season like Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and failed to acknowledge its existence--the Horned Frogs are still undefeated at home, but will face a gnarly mid-week test against UT Pan American Tuesday and Wednesday night. TCU fans, in a similar fashion, want to forget that Tyler Alexander’s first few games existed as well. When he pitches, it’s still evident that the Alexander from late last year is still in there somewhere, but some bad luck peppered in with his fastball seemingly losing velocity, have resulted in him moving to the Tuesday spot.

Tuesday Matchup

UTPA has pretty solid stuff on the mound; they have a team ERA of 3.02 and are holding opponents to a .231 BA. Tonight, the Frogs will see the arm that’s been one of the most productive for the Broncs thus far in Parker Gallegos. Despite a high number of walks (UTPA’s staff is also allowing a high number at 5) and relatively low number of strikeouts, Gallegos’ low ERA has a lot to do with the Broncs’ outstanding defense-- which is sitting nicely with a .973 fielding percentage. Also defensively; one of the more interesting matchups during for the Midweek series is Cody Jones versus a defense that’s allowed only 8 steals all year. Offensively, watch out for Logan Landos; .473 BA 26 hits, .681 slugging, and .580 OBO, and Victor Garcia; .375 BA and 18 runs.

Name

Record

ERA

K/9

BB/9

Parker Gallegos

1-1

1.51

2.5

6

Tyler Alexander

0-1

3.95

6.82

0

Had this been just about any other team in the country--like, literally only Virginia, Alexander would still be starting and trying to organically work out of his funk while remaining a weekend starter. But when you’re TCU, and you have a power pitcher like Mitchell Traver throwing as good as anyone in the Nation--not to mention Preston Morrison and Alex Young not far behind that title--it’s easy to determine why there’s limited slack when you’re not doing as well as you’ve shown in the past, and thus have to be cut from the weekend rotation. The good news however, is that Alexander is showing signs of improvement: In the 4 innings of work last week against Loyola Marymount, he finished with four strikeouts and one earned run--yet, his fastball ball looked like it was losing velocity. Tonight, should be an important step in his hopeful return to form.

Keeping Up with Joneses: At this point, I want to see Cody and Keaton go No.1 and No. 2 in the batting order from here on out--until it fails. Yes, a lot of it depends on the Evan Skoug and Zack Plunkett swaps--but with how everyone else in the lineup is hitting right now, and with Keaton now sitting with a .339 BA and a team leading 11 RBIs, the balance throughout the order allows for Keaton to hit every game in the two hole. The unrelated Joneses are also leading the team in hits (C. Jones, 24 and K. Jones, 20) and OBP (C. Jones, .449 and K. Jones, .391). With Keaton and Cody locked in; remaining undefeated at home through next Monday won’t be easy, but it’s far from impossible. Should the Frogs win their two games tonight, plus the very big Oklahoma State series this coming weekend, there should be little doubt that this is the best team in the country.

Prediction: Gallegos and UTPA impress, but come up short as TCU unloads in the mid-innings; and beat the Broncs 4-1.