The regular season is a bit of a roller coaster, especially in baseball. You’re constantly battling for wins and through losses, trying to position yourself for one of those elite eight seeds while not over-using your arms or hopefully losing too many players to injury.
In a season where TCU started as the prohibitive #1 team in the country, their regular season feels disappointing, in the micro sense. But, the Frogs finished with one more win (39) than a season ago, the same number of Big 12 wins (16), and won one more conference series (5) than in 2016. The Frogs will be entering the conference tournament with a higher seed than last season, and share the regular season crown - with Texas Tech - in the toughest conference by RPI in the country. TCU has done this with several key members of their team missing significant chunks of the season: Mitchell Traver, Jared Janczak, Austen Wade, and Luken Baker have all gone down with injuries for various lengths of time, while reliever Ryan Burnett disappeared from the roster in March for the broad brush “violation of team rules”. All but Baker are back now, and there is a possibility even Luken could return by the Regional round.
College Baseball authority Kendall Rogers believes the Frogs have done enough to earn a top eight seed come the National Tournament, and by all indications, he’s right.
Other than a complete and total meltdown this week, the Frogs are on the right course to have the opportunity to play at home throughout the entire Road to Omaha.For now, TCU’s job is to win game one in OKC to stay on the correct side of the bracket, and try and schedule the pitching correctly enough to keep them in contention through Championship Sunday.
It was pointed out on twitter by our friend Riff Ram, but I had made the same comparison in my head Sunday night as I was writing this: could this year’s TCU Baseball team have a little Cleveland Cavaliers in them? Coast through the regular season doing enough to stay in the top two of the conference while not looking as dominant as expected at times as they position themselves to be at full strength for the playoffs? Other than last night’s surprising loss, the King James Cavs have looked nearly unstoppable when it matters most. Evan Skoug, Brian Howard, Jared Janczak, and the rest could have saved just a little in the tank for when it matters most? I suppose we will find out.
So Hot Right Now:
Eva Skoug had been literally on fire, but after going hitless in the final two games of the Cal series, he might have (temporarily) returned to earth. In his place, we insert Haylen Green and Jared Janczak: the former made his first career start Tuesday night at home against UT Arlington and was absolutely brilliant; the latter returned from the DL to twirl three perfect frames that included four strikeouts. Getting JJ back in the rotation is more necessity than boon for Schloss’ squad and their Omaha aspirations; identifying a potential fourth starter in Haylen Green could be a huge difference maker should they get there. It also bodes well for the conference tournament this week in Oklahoma City.
Cold As Ice:
The bats were a little quiet over the weekend, though, despite the Frogs hitting three home runs in Berkeley, they managed only 11 runs across the three game set, partially due to the 23 men they left on base. The team added five errors in what was one of their worst weekends defensively in quite some time.
Mash For Micah Update:
The regular season is over, and the Frogs’ 51 home runs to this points translates into a significant contribution:
There are several incentives that go into effect once postseason play begins, and hitting $50,000 isn’t out of reach. But, it is time to remind ourselves once again that all these incredibly numbers don’t mean much unless we all follow through on our pledges, so please remember to send in your donations to TCU with a notation of #mashformicah and/or to Cook Children’s in honor of Micah Ahern.
TCU gets back to baseball Wednesday afternoon against Kansas in round one of the Big 12 Tournament. The Frogs need to take down the Jayhawks to remain in the winners bracket, and set themselves up for a run to the championship that will also need to go through Oklahoma and Texas. First pitch is set for 4:00 PM at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in OKC.