TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle was tired of watching one of his best pitchers, Andrew Mitchell, remain in the dugout while the losses mounted.Mitchell began the season as the Horned Frogs closer, but has been moved back into the weekend rotation and will start Sunday against No. 17 Oklahoma (19-4). The series begins with Game 1 at 2 p.m. Friday, pitting the Sooners top prospect, Jonathan Gray, against TCUs Preston Morrison. The move for Mitchell, Schlossnagle said, wasnt necessarily an indictment on the Frogs starting pitching, which has been relatively steady.Starting pitching hasnt been our problem, but I am tired of us losing games and him not pitching, Schlossnagle said after TCUs win Tuesday against UT Arlington. Maybe instead of losing 4-3, we can win 3-2. Maybe he can keep them from scoring two less runs.He also feels like some of the young arms in the bullpen have proven theyre more than capable of replacing Mitchell at the back of the bullpen. Freshman Alex Young earned his first save with two perfect innings of relief against UTA and Riley Ferrell, Nick Frey and Justin Scharf are capable. Plus, the emergence of Stefan Crichton potentially returning to form after his win out of the bullpen Tuesday gives TCU another strong option.I actually think its more of a statement how far [theyve] come, Schlossnagle said. I think we can do it with [Mitchell]. And Stefan was a freshman all-American as a closer in 2011 and hes a guy who can do it too.The move comes as the Frogs (9-11, 1-2 in the Big 12) face their toughest challenge since opening 0-6 against Ole Miss and Cal State Fullerton. Those teams, by the way, are a combined 38-5 and both rank in the top 8. The Sooners were picked to win the Big 12, with the Frogs right behind them. So far, Oklahoma has played like a league winner. TCU, which is 9-5 since the tough start, hopes to take Tuesdays momentum and its new rotation into Norman, Okla.This was the first game weve played where weve been clicking on cylinders, Crichton said after Tuesdays win. I think we can definitely build off this.
Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @FollowtheFrogs