TCU has the luxury of having a plethora of arms in the pen, giving Schloss and Saarloos the option of taking their most reliable one - Sean Wymer - out and moving him to the rotation. Though Wymer’s loss is big, it’s certainly overcome-able, and there are a plethora of guys ready and willing to take that next step and become crucial cogs in the TCU system.
Because there are so many returners, we are going to divide our remaining pitching previews in half, covering the returners in this preview and all of the next faces in the next.
2017 TCU Pitching Stats
This one is pretty easy, as Durbin Feltman returns for year three as the Frogs’primary late inning option. Feltman went through a bit of a sophomore slump in 2017 that brought him back to earth a bit from his insane freshman campaign, but was still money when it mattered most. As a true freshman, the flame-throwing Feltman was lights out; he allowed just 15 hits in 34.2 innings, striking out 49, walking just 11, and allowing a scant six earned runs. A year later, he doubled his earned run output, allowed 23 hits, and struck out just 37 in 29.2 innings of work. A lot of his struggles could be traced back to command though; Feltman walked 15 players in total, hit another four, and went through a tough stretch in the middle of league play that saw him load the bases a couple of times on free passes. But, by the postseason, he was back in form, earning a save in the regionals, striking out the side against UVA in one inning of work, picking up the save against Missouri State in the opener of the Supers, and striking out five of the six batters he faced against Florida in his only appearance of the College World Series. Feltman broke Riley Ferrell’s single season save record of 15 in 2017 - tying for the national lead with 17 - and has a chance to clear the career mark of 32 early in 2018, as he is just six off the pace. With a fastball that regularly clocks 97 and a slider that buckles hitters on both sides of the plate, Durbin’s stuff is as good as anyone’s. If he can stay even keeled on the mound and hit his spots, he is as good a shut-down guy as you will see in college baseball, and he should anchor a talented unit once again.
Right Handed Pitchers:
Dalton Brown is the only returning junior in the pen for Schlossnagle’s squad, a group that is very young but has the benefit of pitching a lot of meaningful innings a season ago. Brown had a tough 2017, appearing in ten games but throwing just eight innings, as he allowed five runs on six hits. Coming back from injury, Brown started strong, holding teams off the scoreboard in his first five appearances, but a tough three game slide torpedoed his stats. Expect a bounce-back season from Brown in 2018, who has a crucial leadership role on the team and can be a consistent, reliable arm out of the pen when called upon. He is also a pitcher who can come out for one or two batters in a tight spot and throw strikes, something he proved as a freshman when he gave up just two walks over 9.0 innings of work.
A strong sophomore group backs Brown up, led by 2017’s team ERA champ, Cal Coughlin. Coughlin, who is also listed as an outfielder, is a big dude at 6’1”, 230, and was a big time force at the plate as a high schooler. With a 3⁄4 delivery, his delivery is very deceptive for opponents, and he can run it at you at 90+, with three other pitches to compliment the hard fastball. Coughlin really came on late last season, showcasing swing and miss stuff, while projecting a business-like demeanor on the mound. With 22 strikeouts in 22.2 innings, he’s a real weapon for TCU, one that can be deployed at any time, in any situation. He walked 11 batters, but most of his command struggles were early in the season, and he didn’t allow a run from May 13th on. He stretched out for two innings of work against Florida in the CWS, and is a prime candidate to take over the Wymer role as a sophomore. He has the stuff, he has the makeup, and he is a guy that keeps hitters guessing because they don’t see a lot of sidearmers at the collegiate level.
Joining Coughlin as reliable options out of the pen are fellow sophomores Charles King, Jake Eissler and Trey Morris. King had his World Series moment as a true freshman, picking up his first career win with 3+ innings of shutout ball. A candidate to be the midweek starter, King has a big time fastball that hits the mid 90s, and compliments it with a knee-buckling slider. Eissler is a guy who could take a leap in 2018, adding speed to his fastball and continuing to wow with an impressive curve. Morris might have the most upside of any of the trio - at 6’5” he has already flashed big time potential, and while he was raw a season ago, he can really bring the heat and has strikeout stuff.
The final returning player in a bullpen rife with experience is redshirt sophomore Austin Boyles, who isn’t going to blow anyone away with heat, but does a great job of hitting his spots and controlling the tempo of a game. Boyles is steady, and should only improve as he continues to gain experience after redshirting his first season on campus.
Left Handed Pitchers:
Well, this is a potential area of concern for TCU, as there is just one returning lefty that is expected to work out of the pen. Thankfully for Jim Schlossnagle, it’s talented sophomore Haylen Green, who had a really strong rookie season, fanning 24 batters in 20.1 innings, holding opponents to a .151 batting averaging, and allowing runs in just two of his 13 appearances out of the pen. Green can also start, and did so twice last season, which is always helpful down the stretch and into postseason play.
Thankfully, there are two brand new faces that throw from the wrong side on the squad, and we will introduce them later in the preview series.
TCU opens their season on Friday, February 16th at Grand Canyon University. Their home opener is the following Tuesday, February 20th, when they will host UTA at Lupton.