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2015 College World Series: Nathan Kirby to pitch for UVA Friday against Florida

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Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Nathan Kirby will start for the Virginia Cavaliers in Friday's 3PM game against the Florida Gators:

Kirby, who was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers with the 40th overall pick in last week's MLB draft, hasn't pitched since April 17th, when he went out with a strained lat, then contracted mono. He was 5-2 with a 2.28 ERA in 10 starts before his injury.

He'll face off against Florida's Logan Shore (10-6, 2.55 ERA).  A Virginia win would send the team to the College World Series championship round, while a loss would force a do-or-die final game against the Gators on Saturday.

Get Them While They're Hot!

Brian O'Connor's decision was an interesting strategic one, as Connor Jones would have also been available. The upside is that a UVA win allows the team to hold Jones for game 1 of the championship (with Brandon Waddell available in game 2).  If there's a game Saturday, Jones would likely be the starter.

Kirby's stamina won't be 100% after his layoff, and he is unlikely to throw 90 pitches (or 6ish innings).

The decision is bold, but I'd argue it's a good one. UVA has two chances to win one game. If a second game is required, both pitchers would be used anyways. But if UVA does win game one, the team would rather save Jones than save Kirby. (And, because of Kirby's pitch limits, he has a better chance of being available again in the next round as well).

The Hoos are an underdog this season, and are playing with house money. If the goal were to make the championship round, Jones would be the obvious starting choice. But to put the team in a better position to win it, O'Connor is making a bit of a gamble.