Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Could TCU's pitchers be even more dominating in 2011?

One big reason for TCU being ranked in the Top 5 heading into the college baseball season is that the Frogs return all three starting pitchers from the weekend rotation that led them to their first-ever trip to the College World Series last year. Matt Purke, Kyle Winkler and Steven Maxwell combined to win 39 games in 2010 while losing just 5. But a rule change that goes into effect this season in college baseball could mean they'll be even more dominating in 2011.

The first difference that most people notice between pro ball and the college game is the "ping!" noise that reverberates off of college player's aluminum bats when they make contact with the ball. While those metal bats provide a significant reduction in cost from their wooden cousins, they have also brought an alarming element of danger to the game. Line drives off of aluminum bats have injured numerous pitchers over the years- in some cases, fatally.

Much like the rules implemented in football the past few years to cut down on concussions, the NCAA decided to do something about this aluminum bat dilemma. Starting this season, college teams will be using new bats redesigned to act more like wooden bats- giving pitchers the fraction of a second more of reaction time that could mean life or death.

We won't know exactly how this will affect college baseball until the season is well under way, but many around the country are predicting a dramatic drop in offensive numbers because the new bats won't have to same pop as the old ones. Even if the difference isn't as drastic as some are expecting, it stands to reason that teams with strong pitching staffs (like TCU, Texas or UCLA) should benefit.

Perhaps this won't be as seismic a change as some are predicting. But if it is, it's comforting to know that the Frogs have the caliber of pitching to deal with it in the short-term and a top notch coach like Schlossnagle to adapt to it long-term.

7 comments:

Greg said...

I just wish our baseball recruitment will pick up some. We have no big names committed this year.

Spit Purple said...

Anyone have any good insight into the rest of our pitching spots? Reliever, weekday pitchers...

Lyle Lanley said...

Kaleb Merck was supposed to be the closer, but he'll miss the entire season after having Tommy John surgery.

Erik Miller and Trent Appleby are the two most experienced returning pitchers outside of the Big 3, so I'd say they'd have a shot at weekday starter/closer.

But I've also heard some good stuff about freshmen Tony Rizzotti, and JUCO transfer Teddy Nowell is the only lefty on the roster besides Purke so he may factor into things as well.

I don't know a whole lot about the other freshmen & transfers, but I'm sure we'll see plenty of them as the season goes on.

Slay Purple said...

I think I watched an interview, where Schlossnagle said Rizzotti will probably be the weekday starter. I have also heard good things about Tyler Duffie.

CrabblerK3 said...

I'm probably really late to this party, but why aren't we playing the Houston Classic this year?

Lyle Lanley said...

I'm pretty sure that outside of Rice, U of H, UT and A&M the Houston Classic rotates invitations to have different teams coming in each year.

CrabblerK3 said...

Ahh. I love that tournament. I have no idea why.