This weekend the Red Raiders will play host to the Horned Frogs in a top 10 showdown that has all the makings of an epic series between the two, however, the headlines going in could not be more different.
TCU has won 10 straight, going to Norman last weekend and sweeping the Sooners with relative ease. They also won their mid week contest against Tarleton State by a score of 13-9. The Frogs come in with a 21-7 record and a perfect 6-0 record in Big 12 Play having also swept Baylor a couple weekends back. Needless to say the Frogs are hot and cruising right now.
On the other side of the coin, Texas Tech is not. The Red Raiders have lost two straight and lost their series in Manhattan last weekend, a series that was easily winnable and probably should’ve ended in a Tech sweep of the Wildcats. However starting pitching killed the Red Raiders for the first time since the opening tournament in Arlington, and the Red Raiders dropped the final two games after winning game one 17-1. It was not a fun series to watch after Thursday night as late in that game, Dru Baker was injured running out a ground ball and because of this injury, he saw minimal time Friday and no game time on Saturday. He is currently listed as day-to-day by Coach Tim Tadlock.
So as I mentioned, two very different teams under very different circumstances coming into this series: Can TCU keep it rolling? Can Tech bounce back? Whichever happens, it will be a real knockout series and there will be no love lost between the two schools.
The Frogs are led by four guys that are pretty talented with a bat. Those guys are Hunter Wolfe, Zach Humphreys, Phillip Sykes, and Brayden Taylor. Taylor leads TCU in homers and RBIs with eight long balls and 31 RBIs, while Sykes leads the Frogs in average, as he is hitting at a .340 clip so far this season and he also has 12 doubles to his credit. Wolfe is one of, if not the most reliable hitter on this squad as he has a .321 average, while Humphreys has a .315 average with five homers.
On the mound, TCU’s starters for the weekend would appear to be Russell Smith, Austin Krob, and Johnny Ray, in that order. Smith has a 2.25 ERA with 50 strikeouts in 40 innings, while Krob has a 2.27 ERA and 48 strikeouts over 39.2 innings. Ray, the Sunday starter of late, has a 3.57 ERA in 22.2 innings.
For the Red Raiders this weekend, there will be a new rotation. Micah Dallas will take the mound Friday night in his first start in a month, his last start was when he pitched against Gonzaga. Patrick Monteverde will keep his Saturday slot, and Brandon Birdsell will take over the Sunday role this weekend. We’ll see if this minor shakeup can put the Red Raiders on track, and if this could be the weekend rotation we see for the rest of the year.
The question everyone will be asking: Will Dru Baker be healthy enough to go? There are certainly plenty of capable back ups to take his place if he can’t go, however none of them are Dru Baker. I expect the same lineup that Coach Tadlock has put out lately with Neuse leading off and then Conley possibly Baker then Jung to round out the top four, with Wilson, Murrell, Fulford, Carter, and Woodcox to possibly finish the card out.
The Red Raiders will be looking for a huge bounce back weekend after what happened in Manhattan last weekend. TCU looks to stay hot. Somethings gotta give. What will it be?
Be sure to follow @vivathematadors for all of your Texas Tech sports updates and follow @JackBellSports for Tech Baseball analysis all season.