The safety net is officially removed today for Florida baseball as the Gators begin NCAA Regional play against FAMU. To be fair it’s not officially removed as it is double elimination, but a loss today would require Florida to win four straight games over three days to survive and advance to the Super Regional round.
And it is in direct response to the Regional format that head coach Kevin O’Sullivan has switched up his pitching rotation order heading into the weekend.
Florida Baseball: Jac-tani up first
Throughout the entire season, Jac Caglianone has been the Sunday starter for Florida baseball. And at the SEC Tournament, Caglianone didn’t pitch until the third game of the tournament.
But he has been tabbed to open up the tournament today against the Rattlers rather than go later in the weekend.
Switching up the mojo for the Gators may seem brash, but the rationale is simple. Caglianone is the least consistent of Florida’s three main starters and given that he would have to pitch and some point anyway this weekend, O’Sullivan would rather save Brandon Sproat and Hurston Waldrep to face (potentially) either UConn or Texas Tech.
FAMU provides Caglianone a matchup he should feel comfortable with on the mound. When he’s hitting the strike zone, his stuff is as good as anyone’s. Where his problem has been all season has been when he gets too cute around the zone and starts handing out walks.
On paper, FAMU doesn’t have the talent level to light up Caglianone as long as he can be in the vicinity of his spots. If you go back to his first start of the season against Charleston Southern, a team whos profile and talent level isn’t too dissimilar to FAMU, Caglianone overpowered their hitters and only gave up one walk on the day.
The risk of course is that Caglianone doesn’t go deep today and O’Sullivan is forced to overtax his bullpen more than he wants to. But this time of year risks must be taken, and if there was a computer simulation to calculate out the probability of pitching Caglianone first working out, O’Sullivan has to feel confident he has made the correct choice.