We all love Jac Caglianone. You can’t log onto Florida Baseball Twitter without seeing something amazing he just did. This weekend against Texas A&M, he hit his 27th home run of the season to claim sole possession of the single-season record at Florida.
Part of what makes Caglianone special is that he also takes the mound every Sunday with the monicker “Jac-tani,” but when digging into the numbers, it’s actually fairly complicated to truly decipher if he should stay a starting pitcher for the Gators.
Florida Baseball: Jac be nimble
Step one put your pitchforks down. Caglianone is having a historic season at the plate, and Florida baseball wouldn’t be in a position for a top-eight seed come NCAA Regionals without him. This isn’t saying anything bad about him as a hitting.
But part of the aura around him is his ability to pitch, and since SEC play has started, he has straddled the line all season of whether or not he actually deserves a starting pitching spot.
Since his start against Miami on 3/5, Caglianone has not had a “Quality Start” in nine straight starts (six or more innings while giving up three or fewer earned runs). A couple of his recent outings have also been downright terrible. He only recorded two outs against Tennessee and surrendered six walks and three runs before being yanked. Against South Carolina, he also gave up six walks and took the loss after giving up four runs in just three innings of work.
In fact, since the Miami start, seven of his last nine outings have been under four innings pitched.
This isn’t to say that all these outings have been bad outings. Against Georgia, he only gave up two runs, and his last two outings against Missouri and Texas A&M saw him depart with only one run on the board.
But he isn’t going deeper into games because his command hasn’t been good enough. He has 54 strikeouts in 47.2 innings of work, which is solid. He also has 40 walks on the season, and more alarming is he has 32 walks in just 27.1 innings of work in SEC play.
Over his last six starts, his ERA has jumped from 3.41 to 4.91.
And yes, to be fair, his ERA is still better than that of Hurston Waldrep’s. But both Waldrep and Brandon Sproat have worked over 65 innings this season.
There isn’t a great solution at this point for Kevin O’Sullivan, even if he did want to switch out. It is almost better to think of Caglianone as the “opener,” similar to what the Tampa Bay Rays do for their fifth starting pitcher slot.
As we know, once in the NCAA Regionals, the bullpens will be stretched to the limit thanks to a potential of five games in four days.
Caglianone has to step up at that point and eke out a couple more innings, or the season for Florida baseball could end sooner than expected.