You know you have a baller pitching rotation when this is a disappointing outing: five innings, two runs, seven hits, four strikeouts, one walk.
Those were freshman Karsten Whitson's numbers from the Gators' 5-3 win Sunday that completed a sweep against Miami, and they were UF's worst of the weekend. On Friday, Brian Johnson went five scoreless innings, gave up just three hits, struck out nine and walked one. Saturday, Hudson Randall (pictured next to a very angry looking me during postgame interviews -- props to Daniel for getting me busted in stalkerface AGAIN) tossed seven scoreless, one-hit innings, fanned five and walked none.
So, on the season so far, these are the combined stats for the Phillies Gators' weekend starters: 50.1 IP, 5 runs, 53 strikeouts and five walks, and they've each contributed to a shutout (which ties UF's total from 2010). That is disgusting, filthy, dirty, nasty, grotesque stuff (can we use nauseating too?). It's too early in the season to have any meaningful comparisons around the country yet, but it's looking safe to say that Florida can count on having one of the nation's best staffs this year -- especially with these new bats sucking the juice out of the game.
And beyond those three, Tommy Toledo and Anthony DeSclafani are starting to really show something as well. DeSclafani tossed three innings of relief this weekend, striking out three and allowing just one hit (his only baserunner). He's looking like the favorite to take over the closing role vacated by Kevin Chapman, while Toledo could either be a solid midweek starter or top relief guy. He threw 2.2 perfect innings Sunday after a disappointing loss Tuesday to Florida State, where he alloved three runs and three walks in 2.1 innings.
It's funny listening to coach Kevin O'Sullivan after games. He's clearly happy with his pitchers but is sticking hard to the "We still have a lot of room for improvement" line. He's right not to let them get big-headed, but other than getting deeper into games, these guys can't be doing much more than they are right now. If I were the coach, I'd be walking around with a big-ass goofy grin all day long. And my team would probably lose. And these would be mandatory.
All this comes on top of the fact that the Gators have Preston Tucker (3-for-4 with a HR Sunday, hitting .435), Brian Johnson (who doubles as the No. 5 hitter and went 1-for-3 with a double Sunday, hitting .342) and Daniel Pigott (1-for-4 with a two-run double Sunday, hitting .514) absolutely stroking the ball. Leadoff man Nolan Fontana has cooled off bigtime -- going 3-for-27 after a 9-for-12 opening weekend -- and clean-up hitter Austin Maddox is at .256 with one homer, but odds are that some combination of those guys, catcher Mike Zunino and second baseman Josh Adams will always be hitting well enough to support this pitching staff.
There have been some mistakes, mainly on the basepaths, but in a sport where pitching and defense are becoming increasingly important, Florida is looking primed to actually live up to the mammoth hype they started the season with. Like I said, still too early to start making any meaningful comparisons or statements about this team, but this is definitely the best weekend rotation of all time.
For serious though, if you're in Gainesville and like pitching, get out to McKethan Stadium on the weekends and watch these guys play. Spring practices are going to be closed, and they're all far more accurate than John Brantley anyway.
Anyone come out for the Miami series? Hit me with your thoughts in the comments. I've gotten a few e-mails asking for baseball coverage, so now's your chance to shine people.