Welcome to another installment of First Pitch! This week, I look at the series loss this weekend against the Baylor Bears and whether the fan base should hit the panic button. Without further ado, let’s dive in!
Can we still win the Big 12?
This first question is one that I personally have been asking since Saturday. Although we got a dominating win on Sunday, there were still some moments when we were puzzling what Coach Tadlock was doing. Friday was a great game between two great pitchers. There is no shame losing to any team when your pitching staff only allows two runs the entire game. The real problem from the losses this weekend was that the seemingly unstoppable offense we saw earlier in the season was nearly non-existent, only producing two runs in a blowout loss on Saturday and none at all in a close game on Friday. Another interesting stat is that in the game Friday, the only times the Red Raiders got hits were with two outs in the inning. This offense needs to get back on track if they are to win the Big 12. Because as of now, this team looks like it won’t.
The Curse of Sunday:
I know this looks more daunting than it actually is. The Sunday starting pitching spot has become a rotating wheel of underperformance. Ryan Shetter, in my opinion, one of the more steady pitchers in our rotation, only lasted two innings against Baylor on Sunday. Is this Shetter’s fault or is it a bigger problem? Although he allowed three runs, I believe that managing can be the problem here. Great teams have pitchers that play in roles. With the exception of John McMillon and Davis Martin, not one pitcher has been able to hold down the role that was given to them early in the season. Ryan Shetter has pitched as a reliever, weekday starter and now weekend starter. This confuses me especially since Shetter was one of your best and most consistent pitchers last year. I kind of expected him to take McMillon’s Saturday role when Gingery got hurt earlier this year. Since this hasn’t happened yet, we can only think about who will be on the mound on Sunday against Northeastern.
How to fix it:
I know that most of you are thinking, is this idiot bashing Tadlock? The answer is no, Coach Tadlock is one of the best overall managers in the nation. He is the best recruiter in the NCAA period. Freshmen are constantly making huge contributions on this team, I thought Kurt Wilson was going to be nowhere near the field this year and now, he has solidified the right field spot and can also play shortstop, second base and oh don’t forget he pitches too. This rough patch the team is going through is more of a growing period than a rough patch. The fix is simple, grow and learn. I’m not just talking about players, coaches can always learn from their mistakes. I expect that we may see a ton of new looks over the next week before the next Big 12 series against West Virginia. For those of you following the team over the last few years you know, Tadlock will give us a huge curveball and make a switch that confuses us. As you all also know, these switches usually work and this switch is what I believe will take this team from good to great.
Being at home will help the team as all Tech teams tend to play better at home. This team is still relatively young so while my hand is near the panic button, don’t hit it yet Red Raider fans. Have faith, this program has consistently put out great teams over the last five years and I expect this year to be no different. I still fully expect us to win the conference and get deep into the postseason.
Who deserves to be the Sunday starter? Do any of you have any position switches that you think would make the team better? Do you have any topics for me to discuss next week? Let me know down in the comment section below or ask me on Twitter @jacobharris_55!