Robbie Buller: Big fish in a small pond
A week ago, the faint aroma of panic was in the air after the Frogs had dropped three straight games. Since then, though, the offense has emerged from it's early-season hibernation and TCU has reeled off four straight wins including a weekend sweep against Texas Tech and a midweek game against UTA to run their record to 8-4.
If last weekend's slump-busting road trip to Lubbock was like a "slump-busting road trip to Lubbock", then this weekend's home series against 0-13 Houston Baptist is like scoring an invite to a DG formal.
The Huskies, whose existence I was made aware of for the first time when they showed up on the Frogs' schedule when it was announced in October, have been outscored in their first baker's dozen games by a score of 108-42. They are hitting .223 as a team while allowing their opponents to hit at a .337 clip. Their weekend rotation of Dylan Schafer, Jamie Storey and Tyler McCarthy are a combined 0-9 and Storey's ERA of 5.68 is the best of the bunch.
This series, in a lot of ways, is like a football home game against a team like Tennessee State or UC-Davis: the Frogs are head-and-shoulders better, should be able to win easily and should be able to get some playing time for younger players. And also like those 1-AA football games, a loss would be crippling. HBU comes in with an RPI of 267, so even a single defeat would seriously damage the Frogs' case for hosting an NCAA Regional or Super Regional.
For the fourth straight weekend to start the season, the Frogs will roll out a different order for their starting rotation. Kyle Winkler will remain in the Friday night slot that he's been brilliant in the past few weeks, while Matt Purke is slated to start Saturday for the first time and Steven Maxwell shifts back to his usual Sunday post. One Husky that the Frog pitchers will have to keep an eye on his third baseman Robbie Buller. The 6-6 220lb junior is hitting .333 with 6 HR and 11 RBI with a slugging percentage (.872) nearly twice as big as his closest teammate.
The first two weekend home series of the season have been the #1 and #2 highest attended in program history. Obviously, HBU isn't nearly as high-profile as Kansas or Fullerton and the St. Patrick's Day festivities in Dallas will draw away a few potential fans. But I still think that with the recent surge in fan interest and the nice weather forecast for the weekend (mid-70s all three days), this could be another big weekend at Lupton.
For those of you that are like me and can't get to the ballpark for every game, don't have The Mtn and don't want to spend your entire weekend glued to your computer, I offer up a few ways for you to keep up with the Frogs while they're playing:
1) Twitter. Yeah, I know- twitter is kind of weird. But there are two feeds: @TCU_Baseball (from the athletic department) and @FollowtheFrogs (from Stefan Stevenson of the Star-Telegram) that post updates throughout the games. With one click of a button, you can have their tweets sent as text messages to your phone...and then just as easily turn the text feature off when the games are over.
2) Your phone. Put this number in your contact list: 682-233-6382. That's the number to call to listen to KTCU live on your phone. I'm sure they've got an iphone app that works better than this, but I don't make iphone money. Maybe one of you that does can take a break in between polo matches to leave a comment instructing other people how they can have their butlers download it for them.