Gators move Brandon Neely back to closer role with six games left

Florida baseball is still aiming to figure out their pitching staff with just two regular season series left in 2024. After an All-American 2023 season as Florida’s closer, Brandon Neely switched to the Friday night role midway through the Gators’ 2024 season.

In Florida’s 4-1 victory over USF on Tuesday night, Neely made his first appearance out of the bullpen since March 24th vs LSU, serving as the Gators’ closer and recording his second save of the season against the Bulls.

“We made some drastic changes and then tried to use Brandon there as a starter and there were some really good moments and there were some moments that weren’t so good,” Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan said on Tuesday night.

In six starts this season, Neely allowed 24 earned runs across 29 innings pitched, which equates to an earned run average of 7.45.

“We’re back to the drawing board again,” O’Sullivan said after Florida’s midweek victory over USF. “It’s not for a lack of trying to push each button; all we’re trying to do right now is put everyone in a position to be successful.”

In 12 appearances out of Florida’s bullpen in 2024, Neely has allowed 8 earned runs across 17 innings, an ERA of 4.24. The┬áSeville, Florida native has tossed nine consecutive scoreless frames in his last six appearances as a relief pitcher, including a 1-2-3 inning on 13 pitches against USF.

“Pretty simple, he’s our closer,” O’Sullivan said postgame. “We’re going to go back to his natural role. I was really, really pleased with how he handled it tonight.”

Going from closer to weekend rotation and back to closer is not ideal for anyone, which is why O’Sullivan wanted to get Neely some work in his new(ish) role on Tuesday night.

“If he’s going to be our closer this weekend and moving forward, he’s got to go out there and do it tonight and I thought he was outstanding,” O’Sullivan said postgame. “The stuff looked crisp, he just looked more confident. Moving forward he is our closer at the end and when the game is on the line he’s gonna get the ball.”

The Gators are sitting at 25-23 (10-14 SEC) with just six games remaining. While this switch may not pay off, Florida is trying everything they possibly can to reach the postseason. Neely seems much more comfortable in the closer role and is a guy that can give you extended outings out of the bullpen if needed.

 

Nick Marcinko
Nick is a recent graduate from the University of Florida with a degree in Telecommunications. He is passionate about all sports but specifically baseball and football. Nick interned at Inside the Gators and worked part time with Knights247 before joining the Gator Country family. Nick enjoys spending his free time golfing and at the beach.