After losing the entire starting rotation from last season, the TCU pitching staff will start practice on Feb. 1 with several question marks
Head coach Jim Schlossnagle said rotation spots are going to be very competitive heading into this season.
“We have a lot of fresh faces this season,” sophomore right-handed pitcher Tyler Lockwood said. “We have some transfer guys, but mostly it’s guys who have been with the team and haven’t gotten their shot yet.”
Lockwood said the coaching staff has been emphasizing that young guys will have to fill some roles this season.
Senior right-handed pitcher Seth Garrison is expected to return to the rotation after season-ending Tommy John surgery in 2007.
Before going on the disabled list, Garrison posted an ERA of 1.96 with 23 innings pitched and 3 starts.
“We’re really glad to have Seth back this season. He’s a huge asset to our staff.” Lockwood said.
“One of the best things you can have as a coach is open competition on your team,” Schlossnagle said.
Schlossnagle said he likes the staff’s ability level, but most of the guys are relatively untested at the college level.
“Last year we had guys who were known commodities who we could run out onto the mound every game,” Schlossnagle said. “Meaning we knew what we could expect out of our pitchers almost every game. We don’t know what are known commodities yet for this staff.”
One of those known commodities from last season was Sam Demel who made appearances in a little more than half the games and pitched 49.2 innings with a 2.17 ERA.
Last season the team rarely played more than three games in a week Schlossnagle said. This season the Frogs have ten weeks where the team will play at least five games per week.
“Those weeks are really going to test the durability of our staff,” Schlossnagle said. “It gives a lot more guys the opportunity to pitch, even to the point where we may not be able to have the same closer every night.”
He said with some losses to the batting lineup, the team is not going to outscore a lot of teams, and it’s going to be important for the pitching staff to perform well to keep them in games.
Schlossnagle said it’s more important for a good team to have a competent pitching staff and good defense then a power hitting team.
He said teams with pitching and defense are more likely to do well in the postseason, and teams with this style of play should perform well with greater consistency.
The Frogs open the season Feb. 22 with a three game series against 2004 College World Series champion Cal State Fullerton.
The Titans are ranked No. 15 in the preseason USA Today/ESPN coaches poll.
Last season Fullerton advanced to the College World Series where it eventually finished in seventh place, losing to Arizona State and the University of California, Irvine.
Sophomore left-handed pitcher Derek VerHagen said it is going to be an exciting series for the Frogs because Fullerton is a well respected program in college baseball.
“Fullerton had a really good season last year,” VerHagen said. “I think we had a great season last year. So it should be an interesting series to watch.”