An MRI exam on Monday showed TCU freshman Luken Baker has a muscle strain in his arm, so he is out indefinitely as a pitcher, coach Jim Schlossnagle said.
Baker is the Horned Frogs’ ERA leader in the rotation and had not missed a start. The right-hander from Conroe Oak Ridge was lifted with one out in the second inning of his start last Friday at Oklahoma State after 24 pitches. He gestured to the dugout in the middle of an at-bat.
Baker (3-1, 1.70 ERA) stayed in the game as a designated hitter and continued to hit the rest of the series, going 7 for 12. He has played in every game and leads the team in RBIs (36) and is second in batting average (.364).
He has been in the lineup as the cleanup hitter in every game.
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When it comes to pitching, the team will take it slow with Baker, the top pitching-hitting recruit in the country last year.
“Week-to-week evaluation,” Schlossnagle said.
Luken Baker leads TCU starters in ERA (1.70). He has struck out 41 and walked 16 in 47.2 innings with a .213 batting average against.
Baker (3-1, 1.70 ERA) has made all 10 of his scheduled starts this season, including the past nine as the Friday night starter. With Baker unable to pitch this weekend, Schlossnagle said he would probably turn to junior left-hander Rex Hill, who has been scheduled for the past two Tuesday starts.
“I thought Rex pitched well in his last start,” Schlossnagle said. “It depends on what we have to do to win a game Tuesday night.”
TCU needed 17 innings from the bullpen at Oklahoma State because of Baker’s injury and a short start from Brian Howard, who went 2 2/3 innings on Sunday. The only starter to go past the third inning was Dalton Horton on Saturday.
I still believe our best baseball is ahead of us. There’s no doubt in my mind about that.
TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle
For Howard, the short start came on the heels of a dominating performance against Oklahoma last weekend.
“He was up in the zone a little bit more than usual,” Schlossnagle said. “He was deep in counts. He walked the leadoff hitter of the game. Even though the first two innings he was getting guys out, he was still getting deep in counts. The more a hitter sees you, the more comfortable he becomes.”
Against Oklahoma, TCU had three quality starts. Against OSU, it was only Horton’s.
“It’s disappointing for sure, but we’ll keep fighting through it, keep making adjustments,” Schlossnagle said. “I still believe our best baseball is ahead of us. There’s no doubt in my mind about that. We had a consistent weekend last weekend. We just need to put together an entire week, 10-day stretch of that.”
TCU at Dallas Baptist
6:30 p.m. Tuesday