Texas Tech started the 2016 campaign strong with a 3-1 series victory over Milwaukee-Wisconsin.
Readers Note: Now, before we get too deep into the recap of the series there is something non-baseball fans should know about baseball. Losses are normal. Baseball isn't football where one loss ruins you, nor is it basketball where every game is a one and done. Baseball is a series of games based on trends and tendencies. Losses happen, and losing to any team regardless of their record isn't a knock on how good or bad the Red Raiders are.
What We Learned:
This might be a long year for Ryan Moseley
Moseley started the opener and pitched well at times and struggled at others. It is easy to chalk up Moseley's 5 IP, 3 R, 4 K, 3BB outting as "just getting his feet wet" or "opening day jitters", but coming off of a sub par 2015 season, Moseley needed to start this season off on the right foot. Moseley is a sinker ball pitcher, which means keeping the ball down and not allowing hitters to elevate pitches.
Coach's Note: To get the sinking movement, most sinker-ballers "drag" their arm through the zone which helps create movement on the back end of the pitch. Because of where the release point is when the arm drags, most pitches will be elevated for pitchers. It is more important for sinker-ballers, like Moseley to stay on top of the ball .
Moseley's ball was flat and up. When he tried to compensate, he over threw his sinker into the dirt. This is normally a sign of shoulder fatigue. Shoulder fatigue has many factors, one of which is overuse. As pitchers, when we drag the arm, it puts more strain on the shoulder to control the joint and rotate during the pitch. This is all speculation from my experience as a coach, but if it's something Moseley is dealing with, it may be another long season for him.
Gutierrez and Smith are the offensive leaders of this team
The 3 and 4 spots in the lineup dominated going for 15 for 27 with 15 RBIs. Other than a mistake in the first game of the double header on Saturday (swinging at a 3-0 off-speed pitch with runners on the corners) Gutierrez came through consistently with clutch hits and driving in runs. Smith, who hits in the 3 spot in front of Gutierrez, helped set the table and get runners in scoring position. With all of the talk about the experienced lineup carrying the young pitching staff, GUTE and Smith really had a strong showing in the opener.
Young Starters are GOOD!!
Ty Harpneau 5 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K
Ty Damron 5 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 4 K
Erickson Lanning 6 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
Really a big fan of the lefties, Damron and Lanning. Big things in store for them.
Bullpen may have some issues
After strong starts by the staff, during the first two games of the season, Tech ran into issues. Dugger, Gingery and Bruce really struggled to get outs and stay consistent in the strike zone. Some of it is mechanics, some of it may be nerves, but walks seemed to haunt each of the aforementioned pitchers. Yes, it is a small sample size.
In games 3 and 4 of the series, the bullpen was lights out. Very impressive outings from Davis Martin and Hayden Howard, really quelled any fears about it being a bullpen wide issue, but it is early.
Tanner Gardner Is Going To Be Special
He was in the running for the starting spot in CF out of camp, but I had figured Zach Davis would get the nod, even with his offensive struggles last year. However, I'm blown away by Gardner in this first series. Played great defense with 3 outstanding defensive catches, one in each of the first three games. He might be one of those CF that you just know something special will happen each game. And being a sophmore, he's got a ton of upside as well.
And he's no slouch at the plate either... going 8 for 15 (.533) with 2 RBIs over the first series, working mainly out of the bottom part of the order.
Next Series: (Single Game) Texas Tech will face Sam Houston St on Wednesday