Latest Team Rankings
Free Text Alerts
|ShopMobileRadio RSSRivals.com Yahoo! Sports|
|College Teams||High Schools|
February 24, 2012Left handed pitchers are rare. They're a commodity, sought after by baseball programs around the country. One can be a difference maker.
Kentucky baseball will start three on any given weekend.
Juniors Taylor Rogers and Jerad Grundy, along with sophomore Corey Littrell are penciled in as the Wildcats' weekend rotation to open the season. Each earned a win last week to help the Wildcats to a 3-0 start, and each figures to take the mound for a game this weekend as UK hosts Buffalo for three games to open its home schedule.
Starting three lefties is more than rare; it's nearly unheard of. Head coach Gary Henderson didn't plan on having a starting rotation of three left-handers, but it's something that's already turning heads.
"It's a question you get just because it is a little unique," Henderson said. "Nobody would ask a guy that is starting three right-handers that question."
The disadvantage of going with three lefties in the starting rotation is that Henderson's bullpen becomes unbalanced. But there are perks, too. It limits the amount of left handed batters a team can use, plays well to UK's Cliff Hagan Stadium, and gives Henderson a chance to change things up by bringing right-handers out of the bullpen.
Besides all that, it's unlikely any team on UK's schedule will face a weekend series against a trio of lefty starters.
"You don't usually see it around," said senior catcher Michael Williams, who has never faced three lefty starters in a weekend. "It's going to be a different look. Something new that people aren't going to be used to. Hopefully it's going to hurt them."
Rogers is in the weekend rotation for the third straight year. He's known for his control and for mixing his pitches. Grundy transferred from a junior college after playing for Miami in his freshman year. He shows strong movement on his fastball and a powerful slider. Littrell finished 2010 as a weekend starter and uses a changeup as his out pitch.
"The one thing I think we're all similar with is we all throw strikes," Rogers said. "That's what you need out of your starters."
Rogers has never been on a staff that had three left-handed starters. As the team went through fall scrimmages, though, it became clear there was a strong chance something new was brewing.
Henderson didn't initially plan on having three lefties as his weekend rotation. He's still not sure it's something he'll stick with through the season, but it's something he's willing to try.
"I think the benefit to the left-hand stuff, if they are good they match up well in our ballpark and I think a left-handed changeup is a dynamic weapon," Henderson said. "I don't think there is a coach in our conference that would argue with that. If they can do that then you have something to build upon."
It's the starting rotation they'll open the season with. It's an experiment that's almost without precedent, and its success could hinge on how well opponents can adjust. While one lefty is rare, three is something new entirely.
"I'm kind of interested to see how it goes," Rogers said. "Some of the SEC teams in the past have been able to put nine right-handers in the lineup against a lefty starter but I think where that helps us out is our bullpen being deeper.
"If we can come in with that right-hander out of the bullpen and if they switch the lineup again then we can switch to a left hander. I think in the chess match we are ahead in that aspect of it."