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TCU Baseball: Texas Tech Preview

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After a midweek collapse against UT-Arlington, the Frogs look to get some conference momentum back this weekend in Lubbock. Plus; the Black Crowes and Michael J. Fox...

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Despite Oklahoma State and Texas playing each other this weekend, the TCU-Tech series may very well be this weekend’s most exciting Big 12 matchup. The Longhorns, who are still technically the No. 1 team in the Big 12 right now, are on a downward slope; they’ve lost four straight and play a salty Oklahoma State team that took two of three from the Frogs two weekends ago. The Cowboys will likely take first this weekend with the best pitching they’ve had in a minute, peppered in with their typical brilliant offense.

The Frogs can make up some solid ground this weekend, however. Though not as severe as Texas, Tech is struggling a bit too.

side note: As a brief recap of Tuesday night’s game--WTF comes to mind. Is TCU under some strange spell that when they have two outs and nobody on, the opposing team must score over 6 runs? You have to give it to TCU, though--they’re consistent. Three of their five losses were 7-6 losses--two of which went to extra innings--; and the other were products of a single inning, two-out collapse.

The Matchup


Day

Pitcher

Record

ERA

K/9

BB/9

Thursday

RHP Mitchell Traver

4-0

1.13

8.95

2.30

RHP Ryan Moseley

2-2

3.56

7.48

3.59

Friday

RHP Preston Morrison

6-0

1.79

7.78

1.60

LHP Cameron Smith

3-2

3.12

8.08

2.69

Saturday

LHP Alex Young

5-1

.98

9.45

1.74

LHP Ty Damron*

2-1 3.82 5.18 2.18

*predicted

What should the Texas Tech expect from the TCU staff this weekend? When your weekend rotation is 15-1, that pretty much speaks for itself. However, despite Tech being the No.5 in Team Batting in the Big 12, there’s no doubt this team can still hit. Cory Raley leads the team in BA, boasting a .361 average to go along with his 17 runs, .465 slugging, and .422 OBP. However, despite a lower BA than Raley (.304), it’s Eric Gutierrez that’s really making the significant offensive impact on this team. Gutierrez leads the team in hits (31), RBIs (25), and doubles (10). Also watch out for Stephen Smith who leads the team in OBP (.470) and is second in homeruns (3).

The Frogs are now first in team hitting and team pitching the Big 12. The former of which should be taken with a grain of salt, as it relies mainly on average; for which TCU leads the Big 12. They’ve also played 3-4 less games--because of the Cal Poly series--than the rest of the conference. So if you weigh that in, than yeah, they’d probably lead, or would be close to leading the rest of the categories as well. So when you look at the comparative chart between their offenses, take that into consideration. But also when looking at the chart, it’s clear to see that Tech likes to take pitches, and be walked; and they love to blast balls over fences. This could get the Frogs into hot water given what we saw Tuesday night--yet another two-out, high run collapse.

Tech changing their rotation order from last week now makes Friday’s battle of Morrison versus Cameron Smith the most intriguing matchup of the weekend. Had Smith thrown Saturday against Alex Young; the lefty vs. lefty battle would’ve taken the cake. Smith has been the most consistent of the Red Raider staff, and Friday may very well be Tech’s best chance to take a win in the series. This also has a lot to do with Morrison’s contact pitching style in a hitter friendly ballpark like Tech’s. We could still see a lefty vs lefty matchup in Saturday's coda should Tech stay to form from last week and let Ty Damron start.

The Red Raiders’ pitching has gotten them into a little bit of trouble this year. Some of it their fault, some of it not. Most importantly, one of their best pitchers, Dylan Dusek, is still listed as day-to-day. That being said, closer Dominic Moreno is electric, and probably the only closer in the Big 12 that can rival Riley Ferrell's mound presence. Still, he’s 1-3 with a high walk count and he’s also a hard throwing righty. This bodes well for TCU. As a hard throwing righty who’ll commit a lot walks; patient hitters like Cody Jones (16 BB) and Derek Odell (14 BB) should see a lot of base time this weekend, and in the late innings should Moreno come in. And hitters like Evan Skoug and Connor Wanhanen should take advantage of the higher velocity and drive those guys in.

Not to mention, TCU’s been running the bases really well, and are just one shy of the Big 12 lead held by Oklahoma State. Nolan Brown and Cody Jones, who lead the team with 10 and 9 stolen bases respectively, are also two of the team’s best hitters--and hitters who, hit on nearly opposite sides of the lineup. So mix that in with great base running, and solid hitting all around them, and that’s really the not-so-secret of TCU’s success thus far, and something that explains the ‘balance’ we so often talk about.

side note: Another strong indicator of Schloss’ trust in his hitters and the balance of offense on this team is the lack of sacrifices--a Big 12 low of 10. To put that into perspective, Texas, the Big 12 leader has 31, followed by Oklahoma State (30), and Kansas (27)--and Kansas and Texas are 8th and 9th respectively in team BA in the Big 12.

Prediction:

For Tech, (the possibility of) having two right-handers in their starting rotation will sting because that means Wanhanen should start at least two of the three games this weekend. This is somewhat speculative, however, as there is no starter listed for Tech Saturday.

Until they do it against a conference foe, I can’t call TCU sweeps yet. Not to mention, Texas Tech is still a really good team and the Frogs are playing them in Lubbock. So I’ll say the Frogs take the series 2-1.