Kevin O’Sullivan shakes up weekend rotation

When Tyler Dyson left last Saturday’s game after just two innings the question that was asked was, would this be the last time we see Dyson start a weekend game for the Gators.

Tuesday night that question was answered when Dyson relieved Andrew Baker on the mound.

“We’re gonna throw (Dyson) out of the bullpen this weekend. We’re going to start Jack (Leftwich) on Saturday,” O’Sullivan said after a 6-4 loss to Mercer. That’s not to say that that will be forever. The bottom line is we just need to get Dyson going and get his confidence back.”

Dyson came into the season with a ton of fanfare and expectations. Some publications listed him as the top overall draft pick in 2019 after a great summer and fall at Florida but he’s struggled mightily in SEC play.

He’s lasting just an average of 3.2 innings per start against SEC opponents and is sporting a 6.95 ERA. The biggest issue though has been his command. Dyson has walked 18 and hit seven batters in his last six starts.

“His fastball velocity tonight was great. It was really good on Saturday. It’s just his command has been a little bit off and his release point and arm slot has fluctuated,” said O’Sullivan. “His bullpens have been outstanding. He’s been on point with his bullpens. It’s really just a matter of getting his confidence going. It’s not unusual, it happens to everybody. Unfortunately it’s happening to Tyler right now.”

Freshman Jack Leftwich will earn the start in the series finale against Auburn. The righty replaced Dyson last Sunday in Lexington and threw six scoreless innings and allowed just two hits.

Leftwich hit a rough patch in the middle of the season when he gave up six earned runs in a loss to UCF and then two earned runs in back-to-back appearances against FSU and South Carolina (March 13 & 16). Since then he’s been lights out allowing just one earned run over his last 19.2 innings (0.46 ERA).

“He threw six scoreless up at Kentucky, which is not easy to do. We know how good their lineup is,” O’Sullivan said of Leftwich. “I think he’s earned the opportunity to see what he can do on the weekend.”

O’Sullivan was adamant that this move isn’t set in stone as of Tuesday night when he was speaking about it. He contends that Dyson needs to just get his confidence back after a few rough outings. Tuesday night he threw one inning, gave up one hit, one run, with a walk and two strikeouts.

The bottom line is O’Sullivan knows that the Gators will need Dyson pitching well down the stretch and the move isn’t so really being made in hopes it will give Dyson a kick start in the right direction.

“Jack’s a freshman and he’ll get an opportunity to pitch on the weekend but the fact of the matter is Tyler Dyson’s gonna have to figure this out if we’re going to do what we want to do,” said O’Sullivan. “I would expect him to be back in the rotation at some point. We just gotta work through these kinks a little bit.”

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Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC