Florida Baseball needs more pitching beyond Jac Caglianone

Jac Caglianone gave up zero hits through six innings on Sunday
Cyndi Chambers Sports / USA TODAY

Last season Florida Baseball dropped a handful of games early in the season due to their bullpen imploading. It wasn't ideal, but the Gators had the backdrop of three solid starting pitchers for their weekend rotation and the cause for overall concern was dissipated.

This season the Gators are still trying to fine their way in locking down a pitching combination it feels comfortable with heading into conference play. Florida has Jac Caglianone. But until further notice that appears to be just about it.

Florida Baseball: Throw The Ball

Caglianone went six innings yesterday against St. Mary's without allowing a hit before he was pulled due to pitch count. After being somewhat of a wildcard on the mound in 2023, Caglianone has now made three starts in 2024 with a 1.80 ERA. In 15 innings of work he has allowed just five hits and eight walks.

His fellow weekend rotation mates after enjoyed the same level of success.

Freshman Liam Peterson had a good opening week debut when he held North Florida and Columbia scoreless. Since then he got tagged for five runs by Miami in five innings and for four runs in four innings of work by St. Mary's.

Cade Fisher took over a starting role after being a bullpen guy in 2023. After getting tagged on opening night by St. John's, Fisher had decent starts against Columbia and Miami, before once again getting tagged early by St. Mary's.

Neither Fisher nor Peterson have gone past five innings of work this season and the Gators are just 4-3 in the weekend games they have started, with Colby Shelton's Friday night walk off the only reason it's not a losing record.

When asked about the state of his pitching staff, Kevin O'Sullivan admitted that he is contemplating solutions to jump start the rotation.

"We faced two older lineups and our young pitchers got a lesson this week that we just can't pitch behind in the count and we got to be able to throw our secondary pitches for strikes...We've been through 15 games. It hasn't been pretty at times, but I think we got a much better feel for our team before we head into SEC play. I think we think about maybe shuffling around the rotation. Not necessarily changing the names, but maybe moving some things around. Maybe that'll be a spark plug for us."

Kevin O'Sullivan

To his point, it is difficult to insert a new guy in as a starter when guys have been groomed all off-season for specific roles. What O'Sullivan seems to be alluding to is moving Caglianone from the Sunday starter to the Friday starter, with hopes of starting the series strong. If Caglianone can go deep on Friday, it would also give the Gators a better idea of how to use the bullpen on Saturday and Sunday.

But one has to also imagine he has contemplated whether or not to give Ryan Slater a starter's role. He has the most innings pitched of any Gator this season with 19 and is sporting an ERA of 1.89.

Beyond him, there are no immediate candidates who jump out as a weekend guy. Jameson Fisher did have a nice week, making three appearances between UCF and St. Mary's, going 5.1 innings combined with no runs allowed. Alex Philpott was going strong but gave up four runs in 4.1 innings of work last week. Brandon Neely has given up runs in three of his last four outings, including the meltdown on Friday vs St. Mary's.

But whatever choice O'Sullivan makes, he will need to make it quickly. Undefeated FSU comes to town on Tuesday followed by a weekend series with undefeated Texas A&M as SEC play gets underway.

The season is still young for the Gators, but there are flaws that will need to improve if Florida intends to make a return trip to Omaha in 2024.