TCU has 10 regular-season games left to prepare for the Big 12 tournament.
If the Horned Frogs want to salvage a forgettable 2013, they’ll have to win the tournament to advance to the postseason. As much as the Frogs have struggled, winning four games in Oklahoma City isn’t as far-fetched as some may think considering the TCU pitching staff’s ability to limit runs.
The Frogs lead the league in pitching with a 2.39 ERA in conference-only games. TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle hopes with just a little offensive improvement that the Frogs’ string of nine consecutive postseason appearances will continue.
But he’s not going to make drastic changes down the stretch. He may flip around the pitching rotation so that he has the matchup he wants when the tournament starts May 22.
“I’m not going to reinvent the wheel the last couple weeks of the season,” Schlossnagle said.
He’ll likely be quick to use his bullpen to get a feel for who’s throwing well entering the tournament. The bullpen took a hit Tuesday when Trey Teakell left after the first inning with a pulled muscle in his ribcage. Schlossnagle said Teakell could miss a week or two.
Teakell would be a strong candidate to start a game if TCU goes deep in the Big 12 tournament. Stefan Crichton, who pitched four solid innings Tuesday in place of Teakell, is another leading candidate.
Crichton came up big for TCU last year at the College Station Regional. He struggled out of the gate this season but, like Tuesday, has shown signs of improvement. He threw a lot of strikes Tuesday, something he said he needs to do get outs.
“It was just a mental note to go out there and throw it over the strike zone because when I get in trouble is when I get behind in the count and I put it over the middle of the plate and they hit it a mile,” said Crichton, who has been forced to regain his form without a regular spot out of the pen. “It’s not easy to do, but that’s what it has come to; and mentally you just have to be prepared all the time, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do lately and try to help the team any way I can.”
Of course, as TCU fans have seen this season, no matter how good the pitching is, if the offense isn’t scoring any runs, it’s hard to win.
“We’re getting down to the end of the year and it’s a grind,” center fielder Cody Jones said. “But we know what we need to do to get where we want to go. We’re just going to take every game like we have to win this game. That’s how we’re going to do it all the way up to the tournament, and when we get there, it’ll be the same way.”