Roundtable: Baseball’s biggest questions heading into the season
The Cougars are coming off a regular season American Athletic Conference title and an appearance in the NCAA Super Regional Finals, but there are some questions about whether or not the squad can replicate the success and take it a step further.
Three writers gave their thoughts on what the biggest question mark is for the team at the start of the 2019 season.
Staff Writer Jhair Romero
Houston dominated at home in 2018, posting a 22–6 record in its home games, but the Cougars finished last year just 10–13 in rival ballparks.
Head coach Todd Whitting and his team are now faced with the weight of trying to three-peat the regular season championship while attempting to counter last year’s downward trend.
If UH improves its production outside of Schroeder Park, it would set the team back on track to winning the conference once again.
Sports Editor Andres Chio
This loss has left questions about how Houston’s bullpen will be since most of the remaining pitchers have far less collegiate experience than past teams.
Given Houston’s track record with pitchers, the question is more about how deep the team will be and not if the team will find another couple of good pitchers for Friday and Saturday.
Senior Ryan Randel and junior Brayson Hurdsman are the most tenured pitchers left from last year, but the Cougars also added 10 pitchers to the roster over the offseason.
Houston has many players to select from, but finding the right guys could take some more time.
It would not be surprising if the Cougars have another slow start to the season as the team find its footing and the bullpen gains experience.
Staff Writer Taylor Hawthorne
Houston lost a couple of starting pitchers last season. The strength and consistency of the replacements will determine what type of team it will be this year—a station to station with good defense and pitching, or a power hitting team that heavily outscores its opponent.
Last season, the Cougars had great pitching with Aaron Fletcher and Trey Cumbie, which allowed the offense to hit one- and two-base hits and still stay on top.
With strong returning hitters in junior Jared Triolo and senior Joe Davis, Houston has the opportunity to succeed as a big scoring team to help it win games.
That level of scoring could be needed if Houston cannot find similar production from its new starting pitchers. If the pitching staff allows Houston to be a small ball program, it will have no trouble outweighing its competition.