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Arizona baseball: Not panic time yet for Wildcats after Stanford sweep

Put that panic button away...for now.

Jay Johnson meets with Cameron Cannon and Cesar Salazar
Jason Bartel

After a second consecutive winless weekend, the Arizona Wildcats find themselves three games below .500 in conference play, tied for 6th with the Utah Utes.

But it’s not time for Arizona fans to hit that panic button...not yet.

Despite their recent struggles, the Wildcats are still 11th in the RPI as of Sunday morning:

via WarrenNolan

There are two things that you can look at with some skepticism with regards to postseason play, and that’s Arizona’s record in true road games this year, and their record vs. the top 50 in the RPI.

As of right now, U of A is still in decent shape to host the Regional round of the NCAA Tournament. In the last five years, over 90% of Regional hosts have come from the top 16 in the RPI, and only one team outside the top 20 has ever hosted in that time frame.

Being a national seed is a different conversation though, which would likely put the Wildcats on the road for Super Regionals against a Top 50 team, which is the deadliest of combos for this team in 2017.

One of Arizona’s biggest issues in recent weeks has been the ability to find a consistent weekend rotation. I actually think that despite the sweep at Stanford, the Wildcats stumbled on what could be the best combination moving forward. Assuming JC Cloney’s left shoulder and bicep don’t tighten up again, he’s the obvious choice to pitch on Fridays, with Cameron Ming and Cody Deason taking on the other two spots.

Then in relief, you have guys like Michael Flynn, Robby Medel, and Rio Gomez that come in when the Wildcats are in front.

We all know that UA’s offense is one of the most prolific in the country, but in games against other teams in the top 12 of the RPI (Oregon State, Texas Tech, and Stanford), the Wildcats have only scored 21 runs in seven games, or three runs per game. That’s a far cry from the 8.1 runs per game this team is averaging this year. So when faced with the elite talent, it’s unreasonable for the Wildcats to rely on the offense.

Pitching, pitching, pitching.

The remaining schedule is favorable for the Wildcats. Two of the five teams in front of them in the standings (Washington and Cal) come to Tucson, and the lone conference road series remaining is ASU. There is a weekend trip out to College of Charleston, which won’t have the RPI boost envisioned at the beginning of the year (C of C is 138th in the RPI with a 4-15 record against the Top 100), but it will serve as kind of a final dress rehearsal for a road Super Regional.

Things don’t look great right now, but keep in mind Arizona finished 16-14 in Pac-12 play last year, and that didn’t keep them from coming within a run of a national title.

Don’t freak out. Not yet anyway.