Well, we got what we wanted. The path to get there didn't go as predicted, but the destination was the same. As much as Texas A&M would’ve loved, in theory, to play NC State--at home nonetheless--and the same for TCU playing Cal, the players, the coaches, the conferences, and the fans of both teams all wanted this.
The TCU baseball team wrapped up their regular season with a Big 12 Regular Season Championship under their belt. Despite personnel losses from 2014--a team that made it to Omaha--the Frogs didn’t skip a beat in 2015. And honestly, they might be even better in 2015- certainly from an offensive standpoint as TCU is scoring nearly an entire run more than they were in 2014. And yet it’s amazing how a week or two can change the entire conversation.
But let’s talk about something that everyone can agree that TCU’s good at...pitching.
Projecting the Weekend Rotation
Saturday: Mitchell Traver
He attacks hitters better than anyone on the staff except for Riley Ferrell, and his overall domineering presence is the perfect tone setter for the series.
Traver filled in after Tyler Alexander’s rocky start, and was for a while the Frogs’ best weekend starter. He got a little cold himself, but if last Friday was any indication, despite the opponent Traver is back to the form we saw him in when he played Rice early in the season. Had this been a night game, or a game that went into the night, Traver would’ve been a no-brainer. But with his downward throwing motion, high velocity, and overall attack, I think you go with Traver to set the tone for the series.
Sunday: Preston Morrison
Speaking of no-brainer, Morrison is not only the perfect choice for Saturday--he’s the only choice. Whether TCU’s up a game or are facing elimination, Preston Morrison- the most decorated, and probably best pitcher in TCU history-is nearly impossible to beat.
We also know the Morrison’s style is calibrated for day games, and it’s also a style that’s designed to beat A&M; a team that, regardless of how good they are at it, swings the bat a lot. P-Mo, above all things, is just so damn resilient. His rocky start, by his standards, in 2014, turned a corner at lightning pace and Morrison finished as the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year; even beating out fellow teammate and Friday starter Brandon Finnegan. In Saturday’s loss to NC State, Morrison, along with the TCU defense, had no one bad inning. Morrison could’ve buried his head in the sand like Wahlberg in Three Kings; but that’s not his nature.
Finishing things are, however, and potentially closing it out against Texas A&M to advance TCU to their second straight College World Series and thus earning his first and long overdue postseason win, would be perfect to say the least…
Monday: Tyler Alexander
Tyler Alexander- Great Once Again- should the series get to this point, is my pick to start the third game. Alex Young was absolutely brilliant this year, and it’s above all things a blessing that TCU has so many options for a starter and are thus so free to amalgamate, but simply put: Alexander is pitching better right now.
The sophomore from Southlake closed out the Big 12 Tournament last year, and we saw what he can do it in an elimination game last Sunday. The Great was perfect up until the 7th inning, and got the cherry-on-top confidence by completing the game, and there’s no reason to think he couldn’t do the same against A&M. His BB/9 is as low as you’ll find, and for a lefty to not give up many walks against a heavy skewed offensive team, is very comforting. The inherent risk is whether the Alexander we saw in the early part of the season comes back, because when he’s off he is very hittable which could spell disaster against a power hitting team like Texas A&M. If this happens as a worst-case scenario, go with your other lefty- a lefty with a very different approach- in Alex Young.
Really don’t have much to say other than Teakell has a sinker that makes me weep. He’s too important and too brilliant not to be seen more this weekend...
Keep Faith in Riley
I was even a skeptic about this. I mean, statistically, you’re a clown if you don’t think a guy who’s only blown 2 saves in his college career is fit for the postseason. However, baseball is known for being streaking and recent trends usually tell better narratives than the entire canon. Even Ferrell said something was missing. We all saw it Saturday night; a few miles off his fastball, and simply more erratic than usual.
Like Yogi Berra (who shares the same level of arithmetic expertise as I do apparently) says, "Baseball is 90% mental, and the other half is physical…"
If TCU is in a position to use Riley correctly, and he’s on...all bets are off.