Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Back on Top

It is hard to fuss too much when Tulane holds the top spot in three of the four national college baseball polls. But more often than not, success leads to obsessiveness- and I am obsessing over the under-used Billy Mohl and the over-used Micah Owings.

I am increasingly convinced Tulane is simply asking too much from Owings. First, he was clearly pressing early in the season. He's never looked comfortable and confident for a long stretch. It is like playing baseball is a chore right now- rather than fun. And I wonder if that is because he's asked to do everything- or at least an awful lot- every week, every game.

It makes it so hard for Owings to have a great week- build that confidence. Over four games, each and every week, Tulane asks this guy to collect a pair of hits each game, provide power, plus pitch seven plus very good innings as a weekend starter. It is almost impossible to do that four times each week. At that standard, Owings is almost always going to have a semi-disappointing game every four times out. Which I think is a big part of why it always looks like he's pressing- because Tulane is almost asking him to press: perform, perform, perform.

Maybe it is the best he can do. But the one approach that Tulane has categorically not tried is to ask him to do a little less- and see if that spurs his game some more. Sometimes I just look at him and I think no one in America would be better served with a day off, or a week of just DH-ing, or dropped a few spots in the order (at least when he is pitching), or to pitch him mid-week a few times.

Now, C-USA Pitcher of the Week Billy Mohl has to be wondering who he has to kill to get a sustained chance this year. I have been screaming for more Mohl since the second week of the season. Every time he pitches, he gets nine outs- if not most of a no-hitter.

Tulane is littered with solid, but definitely not "elite" Division I starting pitching- a box I imagine Mohl would probably fall into as well- so I am not so eager to see them move him from the 'pen. Just pitch him more.

This season has ruthlessly taught that if your rotation is littered with non-elite arms, then at least one game a weekend, Tulane needs lots of relief pitching. Mohl has undoubtedly provided bunches of quality relief pitching for a team who cries out for it at times. I am content to leave him where he is. But you gotta think, in big tournament spots, every starter will have a short leash.