"We're not very good."
But why? Why is this team underachieving as much as it is? A team we all had high hopes for, a team admittedly with sights set on Omaha. Do not get me wrong, this season is not over, all our problems can be fixed. I'm here to tell you how to fix them.
What's the best way to present these ideas? Why in bullet point form of course! Let's do this.
- In advance, yes this point is very obvious. We need Chad Arnold back, now. As of right now, the team is hoping to have him back for the final series before Pac-10 play, which would be at Fresno State. Without Arnold 2/3 of our standard rotation is still very solid, capable of locking down some potent lineups, it's when we get down to that third starter slot we have troubles (sorry Spencer Jackson, but I'm looking at you).
- Jackson has struggled in his two starts (What is an understatement, Alex?). Want to see his line? Neither did I, deal with it.
|Spencer Jackson (0-2)||4.2||13||1||3||0||1||9||17.38||2.79||5.87||5.79||0.00|
- Jackson is a good pitcher, just not right now. Look at his FIP, putting Jackson in a vacuum he is performing right about where he did in 2010 (posting a 5.55 FIP). Still the fact remains, right now Jackson is not a good option for the Cougs. You put Arnold into that number one spot, Conley slides into the two, closing out with Wise as the Sunday starter and you have a near perfect rotation. That frees up Jackson to head to the pen or be the fourth starter when needed, a perfectly fitting position for his performance as of yet.
- EDIT - ADDITION: Something I wanted to speak on last night but was too tired to remember. Jackson has not been wild in the sense most people think, he hasn't walked a batter yet in his just over four innings. His pitch location is keeping him in the strike zone, but that's about it, he's getting the ball over the plate but making mistakes as to where he locates it over the plate (which is obviously the worst place to make a mistake). It almost seems as if he is only worried about throwing strikes, but not where those strikes land. Right now I'm going to blame this on getting back into live game pitching. However, if this continues into his third start, we may have more reason to worry.
- We're 5-4, so let's look at those four losses. Two have came off of poor Jackson starts, the one today came off of a bad collegiate debut for a newly number four starter in Taylor Williams. The problem as I see it is mainly held in our starting rotation. The fourth loss came on a solid outing by Wise, losing the game 0-2 when the lineup failed to show up in Arizona Saturday.
- Time to lay off Jackson, this teams struggles is absolutely not all on his shoulders, a good portion of it also needs to be put on the lineup. Outside of Argyropoulos and Monda, who have been hitting quite well, the rest of the lineup has struggled. You can blame these struggles on the new bats, and I would tell you you're wrong.
- This problem is simple, we're not getting on base. The teams leader in OBP is Argyropoulos at .600, largely because he has been on a tear to open up the season (the 5 HBPs isn't hurting that number either). The rest of this team just isn't drawing walks, it's that simple. I've watched three games now and the free-swinging tendencies of these hitters is going to be the death of them.
|Click on graph to enlarge.|
- Finally, the last glaring flaw isn't something easily patched: defensively the Cougs are making mental mistake after mental mistake. It gets frustrating, especially after watching a 13-4 loss where two runs at least that I can remember scored as a direct result of errors. The frustration is compounded when you know that this team is a very good defensive team, they can play the field, take my word for it. So what is going on out there? I wish I knew the answer to this one, I really do, but this one is all on the coaching staff to figure out.
Game two of the series against Dallas Baptist goes off tomorrow from Bailey-Brayton at 5:30. I'll most likely be in the stands as a fan for this one, so don't expect as many Tweets as usual. I'll still throw up a post game recap and talk to Donnie afterwards.
Again, please do not read this post as a "the season is over, pack up your things" post. These problems are fixable, and I believe will be fixed in good time. Stay strong, believe in these kids and the great coaching staff they have behind them. And as always... Go Cougs!