As the Horned Frogs enter their final three weeks of the regular season, there are some things that give us hope for an extended run in the postseason, while there are also some things for concern.
Jared Janczak’s injury is one of those causes for concern, as his rehab is happening, but slowly. The ups and downs all the way up and down the line up are also giving fans pause.
However, guys like Nick Lodolo and Durbin Feltman are also giving fans confidence that this team could make a deep run.
The Frogs O’ War staff takes all of that into consideration as we talk about reasonable expectations for the Horned Frogs going forward, as well as an x-factor that could get them all the way to a title.
What do you think the realistic expectations should be for this team in the Big 12 tournament and beyond?
MT: if everyone is healthy and they play like the team we’ve seen them play, winning the tournament is realistic. Hopefully that means being a national seed and hosting because I believe we play much better with Lupton Magic. However the way we're playing now and people don't get healthy I believe we’ll drop the tournament in a later round, make a regional and have to fight our way through it to make a Super and then a CWS.
Melissa: Over the last three years, we have seen TCU turn it on in a major way in the postseason to make a run to the CWS. What we haven’t seen is multiple games that end with the Frogs on the wrong side of a football score. The insane hype surrounding this team heading into the season have given us a false sense of what the regular season would look like, and thus, make the results unsatisfying or disappointing. While I believe that this team, as currently composed, is significantly more talented than the 2015 version, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are better. If the Frogs make it to the final day of the Big 12 tournament, I will be satisfied; I expect them to host a regional, and win it, but to have to travel for the Supers - maybe Louisville? If they can turn it on, and get the bats and the arms on the same page, Omaha is still a realistic conclusion. But that feels like a big if currently.
Chris: We should be either the #1 or #2 seed in Oklahoma City and so I expect us to get through to the final. If we drop one of the first two games though, I’ll be nervous as we have yet to see enough consistency from some of our pitchers to feel confident if we have to play 4 or 5 games. That can be said for regionals as well, which we should still be hosting barring any catastrophic meltdown. Realistically, the super regionals are the minimum expectation for me in the postseason, but I just still get the feeling this team like in years’ past will turn it on and make it to Omaha.
Travis: The major publications like D1 and BA still clearly believe that TCU deserves a national seed, and that's very important in my opinion. We are a different team on the road, so if we’re going to make it all the way to Omaha the only way I feel comfortable is if we’re playing at Lupton. As far as the Big 12 tournament, I could see us winning if we stay in the winner’s bracket. If we have to fight our way through the loser’s bracket anything can happen, but I haven't seen much from this team to give me confidence in that scenario.
Jamie: I think the Tech series may trigger an awakening for this team. With series against Texas, Oklahoma, and Cal left on the schedule the Frogs still have ample opportunity to figure things out. Sure, “figure things out” is an odd phrase to use for a team ranked in the top 10, but that’s what happens when you combine insanely high preseason expectations with a team that has had to win in a variety of ways throughout the season.
Who is the x-factor going forward for TCU?
MT: The x-factor (hopefully) is Nick Lodolo piecing it together followed by an awakening of bats.
Melissa: Josh Watson and Elliott Barzilli. If one, or both, can reclaim their stroke to give Baker some protection, this lineup can return to being dynamic, top to bottom.
Chris: I have absolutely no data or evidence to back this up, but I feel like the team always seems to go as Cam Warner goes. When he delivers a couple hits and plays solid defense, the Frogs usually win. He was a major factor in that 14-game win streak earlier this season.
Travis: I'm going to go with Brian Howard. When this team gets good starting pitching they do not waste it, and his pitching is going to be really important to us in the postseason as the No. 3 guy. If he is able to be anything close to what he was in last year’s postseason, it makes this team so much better. If he looks like he has looked at times on the road this year, we’re gonna have a bad time.
Jamie: Durbin Feltman. The Frogs will be in close games from here on out, and having Feltman dealing from the back end of the bullpen is going to be critical. He’s started to find his groove again, so let’s hope that continues.