Manager's note: This week, we will be publishing trial posts from our FOW finalists. With over 60 applicants, thanks to those who sent an email. This piece is by Cole Browndorf; enjoy!
Running Backs grow on trees in Tuscaloosa. The best college quarterbacks of the 2000s called USC their home. Georgetown churns out big men on the basketball court at the same rate it churns out doctors and lawyers. It’s impossible to think of some schools without thinking of a position that they always have covered year after year, regardless of who they lost to the next level. It just might be the case that we are witnessing the birth of a new addition to this list right before our eyes every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at Lupton Stadium.
If complete games shutouts and strikeouts are your thing, the school in purple may just be for you. TCU is quickly becoming the new hotspot to find spectacular pitching, and this trend shows no signs of losing any velocity. A year ago, the Frogs rotation was in its glory. A weekend series was sure to earn you dates with Brandon Finnegan, Preston Morrison, and Tyler Alexander. If you were lucky enough to catch the Frogs mid-week, you still had to deal with Jordan Kipper. Kipper was drafted in the 9th round of the 2014 MLB Draft and is now in the Angels’ farm system, and of course, the legend of Finny is well-documented. Needless to say, the Frogs rotation was expected to drop off a bit for this season, and how could it not?
How do you replace an ace that led his school to Omaha in early summer and then was a major contributor on an AL pennant winner in October? How do you replicate a college pitcher who based on his immediate performance was the most Major League-ready pitcher ever? Trick question… you don’t. We may never see another Brandon Finnegan, but the Frogs have certainly not missed a beat when it comes to making up for his lost production.
This year, Preston Morrison has relished his opportunity to be the guy, with eight wins already this season. He had nine all of last year, and the team-high was ten by Tyler Alexander. Alexander, who began the season in a bit of a sophomore slump, has come on strong as of late, and appears to be back to last year’s form. What has been truly remarkable this season has been the pleasant surprises of Alex Young and Mitchell Traver. The two have a combined 13-3 record this season, while both have ERAs under 2.00.
The true strength of any program is its ability to replenish lost talent. TCU finished tops in D1 baseball last year in ERA (2.22) and second in WHIP (1.03). So far this year, the Frogs lead the way in both of these categories with a 2.15 team ERA and a 0.98 WHIP. Although this season is far from over, TCU appears poised to be the most dominant pitching staff in all of college baseball.
Two consecutive impressive years certainly do not make a pitching dynasty, yet they do warrant serious attention. Add this to names like Arietta, Cashner, and the newly called-up Finnegan, and it’s easy to see that TCU starting pitchers are trending upward. The future is bright for Jim Schlossnagle’s program, and a strong cast of near-unhittable arms is one of the leading reasons as to why.
All stats from ncaa.com and gofrogs.com