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TCU Baseball 2016: Kansas Friday Preview–Leftoverture

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The Big 12's best offense versus its worst pitching? This could get interesting...

TCU's recent road stretch comes to end this weekend after playing in Austin, Wichita, and now Lawrence. The Jayhawks, who are currently 1-4 in the conference, and only ahead of the intrastate rival, the Kansas State Wildcats, have the highest ERA in the Big 12. It's probably not particularly exciting for them to face a team that leads just about every offensive category in the Big 12.

Notables (via GoFrogs.com)

TCU NOTABLES
• TCU saw its five game winning streak come to an end in a 4-3 loss to UTA on Wednesday.
• The NCAA released its first RPI report and TCU comes in at No. 15.
• TCU enters the ranked in the top 10 of all the major polls.
• Cam Warner hit his third home run of the season Wednesday and now owns a 17-game hitting streak, the longest active streak in the Big 12.
• Dane Steinhagen homered in back-to-back games over the weekend to give him four on the season.
• TCU continues to pace the league offensively with a .311 batting average (23rd nationally), a .408 on-base percentage (18th nationally) and a .487 slugging percentage (16th nationally).
• Elliott Barzilli tops the Big 12 with a .452 average and ranks sixth nationally.
• Barzilli owns a 13-game hitting streak.
• TCU has four hitters in the top 10 in RBIs in the Big 12, led by Luken Baker's 31.

KANSAS NOTABLES
• Kansas split a pair of game this week, taking a 6-1 victory over Baker University on Tuesday before dropping an 18-11 game at #16 Missouri State.
• The Jayhawks are 4-3 in their last seven after snapping a season-long five game losing streak.
• Michael Tinsley paces the offense with a .340 average and 19 RBIs. He ranks 21st nationally in toughest to strikeout.
• As a team, Kansas ranks 6th in batting average at .271. Its seven home runs are the fewest in the league.
• On the mound, Kansas is at the bottom in ERA at 5.15, but has issued just the third fewest walks among Big 12 schools.
• Ben Krauth is the ace of the staff, ranking eighth in the Big 12 with his 2.20 ERA. His 53 strikeouts are tops in the league as are his 49 innings pitched.
• Stephen Villines ranks second in the Big 12 with four saves.

Will the Friday curse strike again?

TCU's sort-of been notorious for playing lackluster Friday games, more so at home than on the road, but if last week against Wichita State–in which the Frogs worked around a pitcher who was having a brilliant day and got a 3-0 win–was any sign, they should be in good shape tonight.

However, even though we said above that Kansas has lackluster pitching as a whole, their lefty ace, Ben Krauth, could very well be poisonous for the Frogs Friday night. The senior lefty was absolutely brilliant against Baylor last week; striking out 11 Bears in the 6-1 win. Krauth has been particularly great as of late too; in his last four starts, he's managed a .83 ERA–giving up just 3 runs–and a 10.3 K/9 ratio. He also leads the Big 12 in innings pitched (49.0), strikeouts (53), complete games (2) and shutouts (1).

Friday Night Matchup
Record
ERA
K/9
BB/9

Luken Baker

2-1

1.54

7.2

2.57

Ben Krauth

2-3

2.20

10.3

2.39

The Frog hitters may have their work cut out for them as Krauth is also holding hitters to a .168 BA. However, aside from the Texas series, good pitching hasn't really slowed down this youthful powder keg. This powder keg includes, but is certainly not limited to; Cam Warner, who's been absolutely terrific in the second-spot, extended his hitting streak to 17 games Wednesday with his 3rd home run; Elliott Barzilli, who leads Big 12 leader in BA (.452); Dane Steinhagen, who's been piping hot as of late; And for our main attraction tonight...the Jayhawks are going to have their work cut out for them against Mid-Season Freshman of the YearLuken Baker Friday night.

Despite Kansas' record, they're playing pretty well as of late and with Krauth at home, I don't doubt the Jayhawks have a strong case to win tonight if they can attack Baker early. The matchup, and just overall difference between Baker and Krauth is very intriguing. Krauth, a lefty, just over 6-ft throws versus a righty who's bigger than Gary Patterson's linebackers.

Should be a saucy little matchup in Lawrence tonight.

Also–here's a bonus from Kansas alum, Paul Rudd