The past two or three years, the Red Raider faithful haven’t had to worry much about pitching. Davis Martin and Steven Gingery won their jobs basically from the get go and held their position (when healthy) from 2016 to 2018. Now we’re at a strange time where for the first time in years, we really don’t have much of a clue of who will step up.
After the first couple weekends, despite strong performances, I’m still not 100% sure who it’s going to be. Obviously, Caleb Kilian is going to get the ball on Saturdays, as he was an All-Big 12 first team pitcher last year and could go in the Top 10 rounds with a good performance this season. Outside of that is a little bit of mystery.
Bryce Bonnin has a crazy good stuff, but had trouble locating it in his first start and wasn’t used this weekend. Perhaps he starts today or maybe there’s an unknown injury. Mason Montgomery looks like the best pitcher of the staff at times, but other times can’t locate his pitches and hits batters. Erikson Lanning has had clutch moments and had a good outing this weekend, but will he keep it up this season?
That’s not to mention other possible starters like Hunter Dobbins, who would’ve started the final game against Oregon, or Micah Dallas, a freshmen who looked good this fall, or maybe a bullpen pitcher like Taylor Floyd. If you remember, Kilian was originally a guy out of the pen last season.
So who do you trust? Well after this weekend, I assume Tadlock is going to throw out Lanning, Kilian and Montgomery in this weekend in Frisco. And if they win there, then maybe we don’t need this discussion.
Whoever it is, we’re going to need to get longer starts out of them. Lanning and Montgomery have had the longest starts of the season so far with five innings pitched. It’s fine right now because the bullpen is looking great, but if a few guys start fading or pitchers get injured, then Tech is in trouble.
They’re also going to have to be more consistent. If a guy is capable of blowing up easily or quickly, then that can lose you a lot of games if no one is warming up. Those are probably the two most important things to look at the next couple weekends before Big 12 play begins.
Before we get to the next part, here are some terms I like to use that you may not know if you’re not an avid baseball fan. I’m not going to go over the simpler ones like RBIs and ERA.
- Slash Line – This is a combination of AVG/OBP/SLG. On base percentage is how many times you get on base divided by how many plate appearances you have, and slugging is a formula based on how many extra base hits you have. The higher, the better.
- WHIP – This stands for Walks and Hit per Innings Pitched. Basically how many guys get on base an inning. You want to try and get that number around or below one.
- BAVG – Opponents batting average. Sometimes ERA can be deceiving and lucky or unlucky, so BAVG (much like WHIP) can be a better indication of how a pitcher does at times.
- IP – Simply means innings pitched and how many outs he got. Ex:) 1.1 IP stands for one inning and one out pitched (or four outs). 3.2 stands for three innings and two outs pitched (or 11 outs).
- Erikson Lanning – Lanning has one of the weirder stat lines, as he went 5 IP with a WHIP of 1.00 and four strikeouts. Even though he left the game with four runs, he had zero earned rules because the defense wasn’t doing well. Probably could’ve gone another inning without the errors. Great outing by Lanning.
- Tanner O’Tremba – O’Tremba has a lot of “The Bull” in him. And no it’s not just because he’s a little bigger like him. O’Tremba has power, gets on base, and is a better defender than he appears it be (he had a great catch on Sunday). In the series finale, O’Tremba was 3-5 with two runs and seven RBIs. That performance gave him Big 12 newcomer of the week.
- Dylan Neuse – Neuse is another newcomer who stepped up big this weekend. He had a huge game on Saturday, when he hit two home runs, including a grand slam that gave Texas Tech a three run lead. This weekend, Neuse batted .357/.400/.929 with five runs and eight RBIs.
- Brian Klein’s Bat – Klein quietly put up good offensive numbers over the weekend. The junior batted .467/.500/.533 with four runs and five RBIs. Would like to see a little more power out of him, but still some good offensive stats.
- Mason Montgomery – Montgomery had another solid outing. He went 5 IP with two earned runs, a WHIP of 1.60 and five strikeouts. If you take away his second inning, it becomes a great outing with less walks and HBPs, and zero earned runs. Montgomery had potential to be a great pitcher. It’s all about his ability to control his pitches and not hit batters.
- Dru Baker’s Bat – After struggling a little bit to hit the ball the first weekend, Baker had a huge outing at the plate this weekend. I didn’t realize how good his stats were until I looked at them. He had a slash line of .467/.500/.467 with six runs and three RBIs. Not a lot of power, however.
- Dane Haveman – Haveman continued to be one of the go-to pitchers out of the bullpen. When he came in a close game, I automatically became more relaxed. He 3.1 IP with one earned run, four strikeouts and allowed just one hit.
- Taylor Floyd – Floyd did well last weekend, and was probably better this weekend. In 1.2 IP, he allowed just one one hit and struck out three batters. He had a high BAVG last weekend so this outing definitely lowered that. He’ll be a key piece out of the pen this season.
- Cam Warren – Warren had a huge two out hit in the sixth inning in Friday’s game that cleared the bases and gave Tech the lead. He also had a pretty decent stat line, as he hit .364/.417/.545 with three runs and four RBIs.
- Braxton Fulford’s Bat – While I was working at the Lubbock AJ, Fulford was named our Hitter of the Year. Well, his bat is finally coming around so far this season. Fulford had two big hits on Friday, including the first hit of the day and an RBI single.
- Clayton Beeter – Although I didn’t hype him up, Beeter has generated a lot of buzz prior to the season started. He was electrifying in his outing on Saturday, pitching two no-hit innings with three strikeouts and a walk.
- Braxton Fulford’s Glove – Fulford did a good job gunning down runners on the base paths, but had a couple balls go by him and couldn’t glove a ball to get a runner at the plate on Friday. As we saw in the NCAA playoffs and even the MLB playoffs last year, good defensive catches are vastly important.
- Max Marusak’s Strikeouts – Marusak had some good plays defensively and was absolutely flying around the base paths. However, he doesn’t make a ton of contact and struck out three times on Sunday in six at-bats. Saw some improvement, but would like to see more contact.
- Middle Infield Defense – At least for the first two days, the defense of the middle infield was getting on my nerves. There were four unearned runs on Friday, three of them were caused by errors from the middle infield. Keith mentioned the lack of chemistry between the two (since Baker is a freshmen) might have something to do with it. Need to clean it up though.
- John McMillon – McMillon has been inconsistent so far this season. He was ineffective in the season opener, then bounced back that weekend with a good outing, then threw four balls including a wild pitch on Saturday.
- Ryan Keesee – Keesee has stuff, and made some great outs, but he ran into some problems over the weekend. The biggest was coming into the fifth inning on Saturday and giving up a three run homer. That being said, I love his stuff and hope he gets more opportunities.
- Even though a lot of people will point to the Cameron Warren at bat as key one in Friday’s victory, I thought Gabe Holt’s long at bat that resulted in a walk was just as important. Thompson was fading and Holt’s long at bat got him to crack, giving up a hard hit to Jung and two base hits before being pulled.
- Speaking of Gabe Holt, he had a hard hit against the center field wall when tracking a fly ball (he caught it, but hit the ground after the impact with ground and was ruled a hit). He didn’t play Sunday, and perhaps we could see him sit this week or weekend. I don’t know what the injury is or the extent of it.
- Spencer mentioned this to us during the weekend, but Texas Tech has a crazy batting average with runners in scoring position. After struggling a tad in that category last series (mostly just the first game), they came back with a bang this series.
- Josh Jung ran into some terrible luck on Friday when defenders made two great plays to rob him of hits. He finally got some luck on Saturday, when he reached base on two errors, and the hits finally came his way on Sunday. The opposing team also intentionally walked him with first base open whenever possible it seemed.
- We saw a few first appearances over the weekend. The first came from Hunter Dobbins, who gave up one unearned run in 0.1 IP. The second was Micah Dallas, who has had a lot of hype around him from his performance in the fall, who had a perfect inning with two strikeouts. Wonder if Dallas starts today.
- I didn’t mention Ryan Sublette in either of the categories above, but Sublette had a clean outing on Sunday. That’s a positive sign for the sophomore. Clearly Tadlock sees something in him. Kurt Wilson had another solid outing too.
- No Bryce Bonnin or Caleb Freeman this weekend. Freeman figures to be a key bullpen piece and Bonnin didn’t pitch after his lackluster start. Are they injured? Are they being used for today? Did they lose favor? Or were they just not chosen to be pitched? Just something to look out for.
Big 12 Standings:
I feel like we didn’t really learn anything new from this past weekend. Baylor is good at beating up on lesser opponents, Oklahoma had a great outing against some good competition, and TCU vs Grand Canyon continues to be an interesting weekend series.
There could be five or six teams with a chance on winning the Big 12 this year just from looking at the first couple weekends. Even Kansas isn’t playing that bad, and has one of the best players in the Big 12. Here are you updated conference standings.
|Conference Record||Overall Record|
Big 12 Results:
- Baylor vs Cornell – The Bears dominated another weekend series, this time outscoring Cornell 39-7 in a three game series. Cornell was projected to finish near the bottom of the Ivy League.
- Kansas at Texas Southern – I forgot Kansas had one final game in their opening series, and they won that one to split the series. This past weekend, they defeated Texas Southern 3-1 in a four game series. Good series win for them, since the Tigers been the NCAA tournament in recent years and is one of the favorites to win the conference.
- Kansas State at Tony Gwynn Classic – Just like with Kansas, I forgot the final game of their series, which they won. However, they lost to California Baptist a coupe days later, then lost two out of three games in the Tony Gwynn Classic. Their one win was a 6-4 win over Utah, who was voted to finish last in the PAC-12.
- Oklahoma at Tony Gwynn Classic – The Sooners started off the week with a good midweek win over Dallas Baptist, the favorite in the Missouri Valley Conference. This weekend, they traveled to the Tony Gwynn Classic and won two out of three games. They had good wins over a decent San Diego team and MWC favorite San Diego State. Their lone loss was to Cal State Fullerton, who was one game away from the College World Series last year. They also defeated TCU earlier this season.
- Oklahoma State vs Wright State – After a midweek win against a decent Little Rock team, the Cowboys won their weekend series against Wright State, who they were a couple runs away from sweeping. Wright State, if you remember, was a No. 4 seed in the Stanford tournament and nearly defeated the Cardinal. They are the favorite in the
- TCU vs Grand Canyon – TCU defeated Abilene Christian before facing Grand Canyon this past weekend, whom they defeated 2-1 in a three games series last season. They did so again this time around, and nearly lost the series against the WAC favorite. I’m not sure what to think of this, but Grand Canyon always seems to give the Horn Frogs fits. Tech plays the runner-up favorite (NMST) today.
- Texas vs Purdue – The Longhorns defeated a good Rice team in their midweek game before facing Purdue at home this weekend, whom they took three out of four against. Despite losing some talent to the draft and to injury, the Longhorns still look dangerous. Purdue is predicted to finish sixth in the Big 10.
- West Virginia at Georgia Southern – West Virginia won their home opener against Canisius last Tuesday. Last weekend, they won a weekend series at a Georgia Southern team predicted to finish in the middle of the Sun Belt Conference. Interestingly, the Mountaineers have only score more than five runs once this season.