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TCU Baseball: Monday Manager - Growing Pains

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TCU's red-hot offense was cooled off a bit in Austin. Despite losing the series, the Frogs showed why there's still plenty to be excited about...

For the first in the 2016 season, the youth of TCU showed. The Friday loss, by just about every measure, was simply a win for Texas. The Thursday game, was completely within TCU's grasp to win - but, as I said in the recap, errors and the Longhorns' familiarity with the various ins and outs of their own ballpark kept them in the game.

The Horned Frogs have shown to be excellent at home, and the road trip to Austin was their first real taste of what it feels like to be away. TCU took a lot better cuts than Texas in the batter's box, but like Frogs fans have learned the last two seasons - you can have the most mundane of offenses and as long as you have the pitching, you can get pretty far. No Texas pitcher has the Riley Ferrell-esque dominance or even presence for that matter, but they do one thing really well -use their bullpen. I suggested this either last season or in 2014, but Texas is kind of doing what the Tampa Bay Rays did a while back, and that's use one pitcher every two innings or so. By the end of pitching life the Longhorns went through, TCU had caught up, adjusted and forced them into a variety of compromising positions.

The Frogs didn't have a good Thursday; they committed 4 errors, had multiple chances to tie the game, and flat out just let Texas bully them into succumbing to Augie-ball. That being said, the bitter taste left in their mouth will hopefully stay with them moving forward. And, really, there's no reason why it shouldn't. (A) You'd rather see them lose a series early than lose one in late April and (B) this team is still is extremely young, but one that flexed their muscles in Austin and showed they're taking cuts as good, if not better than the offensive-savy 2010 squad.

Losing to Texas just sucks. It sucks because they have one of the most storied coaches in college baseball history, and the last of the college Mt. Rushmore still coaching. They also swept Texas in 2014 and 2015 and getting a third would've been something pretty remarkable.

Nevertheless, you know the Frogs are going to play well at home, and really the only tough place the Frogs go from here on out is Stillwater. And maybe Austin taught them a little something whilst getting their feet wet.

Brian Howard also backed me up on my personal lobbying for him as the best pitcher, at least until Mitchell Traver comes back, on this team - and even then, who knows. His command and ability to throw low-ball strikes was absolutely brilliant.

If it isn't broken-should you fix it? Look, I'm not doubting Schloss, and whatever he does, I support. But, in keeping with trying not to sound like a hindsight 20-20 pilgarlic, I wish there'd been a way to ease Connor Wanhanen back into the lineup and let Landestoy cool of organically before just stopping Landy dead in his tracks. I feel like your Aunt on Facebook in that I have to reaffirm my Faith every week - but in this case it's Sabermetrics. Why take out a player on a streak? And to be fair, there's no easy answer. Letting Wanhanen take over full time duties once Landestoy came back to earth may seem like the right move, but what if he doesn't cool off? Do you punish Wanhanen for being injured? Either way, when Wanhannen plays, I like Cam Warner hitting second until he gives a reason otherwise.

Austen Wade, who like Landestoy has stepped up lately, had a rough first two games, but finished off the weekend nicely with a pair of hits and is still hitting over .350 on the season. Elliot Barzilli hasn't showed any signs of slowing down, picking up 7 hits over the weekend, which has him currently sitting at .465 on the season.

This is also the weekly segment where I get up and complain about Rex Hill. More so than his ERA (5.40), the problem hinges on the fact that team is simply not getting enough innings out of Hill. He failed to complete 2 innings in Austin, and while the bullpen is a bright spot for the Frogs this season, it left the door wide open for Brian Trieglaff, who's also been volatile this season, despite what a 2.40 ERA and 2-0 record says. Normally, relying on Drew Gooch, Ryan Burnett, Preston Guillory, and of course, Durbin Feltman,is right where you want to be – but when you can't even get four innings out of your starter on a consistent basis, you're simply at more risk. TCU's bullpen has been fantastic, but it doesn't carry the weight 2015's did – not yet anyway. Hill's thrown six fewer innings than Luken Baker and 13 fewer than Brian Howard. If they were more quality innings, maybe we'd be having a different conversation. Once Traver comes back, it should probably be immediate that Hill goes to Tuesday, or possibly even to the bullpen; to not only get his groove but to actually find one in the first place.

I wouldn't let the Texas series bother you like it bothers me. I grew up in Austin, I've seen it from the other side. There will be always be a personal stake for me, and walking into Disch for the first time since we earned our first College World Series berth in 2010, I was setting myself up for failure. Like the guy requesting "Protect Ya Neck", I say this again and again: Texas won playing the way they wanted to. That may not last them all year, and this still may very well be Augie's coda. They humbled a very talented, youthful team, who, until this point, had the luxury of playing (mostly) at home. You're not going to always catch the breaks in baseball; For instance Skoug's foul ball that still hasn't landed that would've tied the game OR Josh Watson rolling into a bases juiced, 1-out double play that would've broken Friday's game wide open.

They'll get plenty of time to prove themselves on the road before season's end, and even before what's looking like to be a pivotal series against Oklahoma State. Currently 2-2 on the true road, TCU will spend the next two weekends in Kansas; first at Wichita State, who they swept last year, and then off to Kansas for another Big 12 series. The Frogs then return to Fort Worth, where they are currently 13-3, to take on a struggling Oklahoma squad.

Frankly, the underwhelming weekend didn't hurt TCU much in the polls. They're still in the Top 10 in Baseball America (8) and D1Baseball's (10) polls. Either way, it's nowhere close time to hit a panic button on TCU's 2016 campaign. Frankly, a Super Regional would be pretty incredible for a team this young.