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March 14, 2013

O'Sullivan rearranges starting rotation



It doesn't take much looking to realize Florida's starting pitchers haven't done their jobs this season.

Through 18 games, the Gators (8-10) have yet to have a starting pitcher record a win. Florida's longest outing from a starter all season was Jonathon Crawford's 6.1 innings last Friday in which he allowed four runs and the Gators lost.

"I haven't pitched to the best of my abilities at all," Crawford said. "As a staff, we've just got to work deeper into games and give our bullpen a rest."

UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan decided Wednesday it's time to shake up his pitching staff after losing three of the last four entering Southeastern Conference play this weekend against No. 10 Kentucky.

That means freshman right-hander Jay Carmichael, Florida's most dependable bullpen arm all season, is the new Friday night starter for the Gators this weekend. Crawford will be pushed back to a Saturday start, while freshman Eric Handhold will maintain his role as the Sunday starter.

Carmichael is currently third on the Gators in innings pitched and has a team-best 2.00 ERA on a staff with a 4.50 ERA.

O'Sullivan said he wants to see the same thing from Carmichael he has been hoping from with his other starters.

"Give us a quality start. Get into the second half of the ballgame," O'Sullivan said. "It doesn't just fall on Jay's shoulders. It falls on a lot of guys."

The starting rotation's gain is the bullpen's loss. Along with Ryan Harris, Carmichael was one of Florida's only truly reliable relief options. That became all the more clear Tuesday night when O'Sullivan announced junior right-hander Keenan Kish is out for the season with a hip injury.

Kish had hip surgery over the summer and was never comfortable returning from the surgery in early outings this season.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR THIS WEEKEND

Kentucky (14-2) comes to town for its first true road series of the season having won 11 of its last 12 games. It will be the first SEC games of the season for both teams.

The Wildcats have offense, specifically in the form of junior infielder J.T. Riddle, who enters the series batting .400 with 14 RBI. However, it is pitching where Kentucky will give Florida - a team batting .364, the third-worst average in the SEC - the most trouble.

Kentucky's weekend starters are established, three left-handers who have all thrown at least 22.1 innings across four starts this season. Senior Jerad Grundy is the staff leader, having thrown 26.2 innings with a 1.35 ERA and a 3-1 record.

WEEKEND GAME TIMES

Friday: 7:30 p.m.
Saturday: 12 p.m.
Sunday: 12 p.m.


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