John Cohen shuffled his weekend pitching rotation earlier this week and talked at length about it this morning during a teleconference. To catch you up, Friday night starter Devin Jones (10.05 ERA in SEC play) has been replaced by normal Saturday starter Chris Stratton, and his spot is now filled by Nick Routt, who was the Sunday guy.
Jones could come out of the bullpen, or possibly even start on Sunday if he's not used the first two games. Cohen said the junior right-hander is handling the demotion well.
"Devin handled it exactly like we thought he would," Cohen said. "He just wants to help our team. He wants to help our team any way he can. I think he's disappointed with his starts, but as I've said many times, he's a very talented young man."
Stratton (4-3, 4.22) has never been a Friday starter, so this will be new for him. He's coming off the worst outing of his career, last week against Florida: 1.2 innings, seven runs allowed.
"I think he really wanted to pitch last Sunday. He didn't feel good about it, and he wanted to get right back on the horse and pitch."
Cohen likes what he's seen of Routt (0-1, 2.35), who had his longest and best outing of the year on Sunday: 5.0 innings, one run, six hits.
"I think a year ago his fastball, even though it had more velocity probably than it did right now, he was much more hittable," Cohen said. "There are a lot of studies and things done about velocity, and then there's what the hitter sees. When he's throwing his fastball the way he is right now, and it's about 88, 90 (mph), but it's really hard to see."
• Cohen, whose team lost to UAB last night, 6-4, talked about struggles at the plate. Over the last two SEC weekends, MSU is batting .236 (47 for 199). Cohen pointed to last night's game as typical of what's often happened to State: Well-struck balls are going for outs. He held up Cody Freeman's at-bat with two men on base as an example, when he smashed it directly to the center fielder.
"There is so much streaky luck that goes into what we do," Cohen said.
• You need to check out my opinion offering in today's Journal, where I note the progress of this team. Still looking for a good metaphor to describe the stage they're currently in.