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TCU Baseball: UT Arlington Preview

TCU looks to get another solid win streak going with a midweek matchup against cross-town rival UT Arlington tonight.

Dalton Horton pitched four shutout innings last Tuesday against UT Rio Grande Valley
Dalton Horton pitched four shutout innings last Tuesday against UT Rio Grande Valley

The last time TCU lost the opening game of a series they went on a seven game win streak.  I know we have a pretty small sample size, but the trend is repeating itself so far. Why not roll with it? As a fan I see no problem jumping on that train of thought. Baseball, after all, is a funny game, one where mojo and superstition can play a major role. Knowing all of that, you can bet that there's no way Schlossnagle is letting anyone on this team feel like they have accomplished anything yet. The truth is, they really haven't. There's still 40 or so games to be played. In this case, unlike the last two Tuesday games, this opponent is one that they realistically could lose to.

UTA opened up their season with a 3-2 win over Oklahoma State, a team that at least a few of the Big 12 coaches picked to win our conference. They have also won both of their Tuesday matchups so far this year, one against Baylor and one against Stephen F. Austin. They won those two games by a combined score of 22-7. On the year, the Mavericks are 8-5.

Pitching W-L IP ERA H/9 K/9 BB/9
Dalton Horton 0-0 6.0 0.00 7.5 4.5 4.5

Neither team has announced which pitcher they plan to start on Tuesday night. Given how well Dalton Horton pitched last week against UT Rio Grande Valley, I have to assume that TCU will roll him out again this week. Like TCU, UTA has started a different pitcher in each of their midweek games. To make matters more complicated, they played a four game series this weekend which makes the question of who they may choose to start the game all the more murkier. The bottom line is that both of these pitching staffs will be rolling out guys, who quite frankly, aren't their best. This isn't a knock on either pitcher, it's just the nature of Tuesday night games. It's for that reason that the matchup between the offenses is the real key to this game.

Offense avg r h hr slg% ob% fld%
TCU 0.332 95 125 8 0.509 0.408 0.981
UTA 0.310 87 144 5 0.397 0.388 0.958

Slash Line - (BA/SLG/OBP)

The Mavericks have a pretty salty lineup this year.  Any team whose offensive numbers look anywhere close to TCU's does at this point in the year--and UTA's aren't that far off. Their best hitter is Quintin Rohrbaugh (.469/.531/.517).  While he hasn't hit a homer yet this year, he does have three doubles and has walked seven times. That is the one area where this UTA team does have the edge on the Frogs. The Mavericks have 55 walks to TCU's 42. UTA has played two more games than TCU, but that's still a significant differential.

Behind Rohrbaugh, UTA has Brady Cox (.390/.463/.460) and RJ Williams (.372/.512/.491). Cox has three doubles and six walks and Williams has four doubles, a triple and eight walks. Then there's Turner Colton, who despite having a lower average (.289), has managed three doubles and two home runs.

For TCU, the offensive leader is still Elliott Barzilli (.512/.805/.543). For lack of a better term, Barz has been on a rampage this year.  He has four doubles, a triple and two home runs. Maybe it's just the fact that he gets a hit over 50% of the time, but so far, he just always seems to be the guy you can count on to come through with a timely hit. Evan Skoug (.371/.543/.489) is also off to a crazy good start and what's even crazier is it seems like he isn't having all that great of a year offensively.  Maybe that's because he's been walked eight times or maybe it's because last year it seemed like he was one of the only players you could count on for a big hit, and this year his brilliance gets lost in the flurry of hits and runs that have been TCU baseball.

Then there's Luken Baker (.389/.611/.522). He was hyped up all preseason as a freshman phenom that was destined to take this team to new heights. Regardless of the fact that he might be the best (healthy) pitcher on the team, he has probably been even more impressive at the plate. He has the second highest average on the team (second to a guy hitting over .500), is leading the team in walks and is tied for the most home runs with Barzilli and fellow freshman, Josh Watson. If UTA wants to leave Lupton with a win they will likely have to do it with offense. That's a pretty tall task, but we may very well be in store for a good ole fashion sluggfest.