Just when it looked like MSU had found a solid starting rotation, sophomore right-hander Chris Stratton had his worst career outing on Saturday at Ole Miss, lasting only two-thirds of an inning and throwing 38 pitches. Coach John Cohen later found out that the Tupelo product was feeling sore entering the game. But it's been a tough season in general for Stratton – he's got a 7.36 ERA in SEC play – and there could be yet another change made to the weekend rotation.
Cohen said on his teleconference this morning that the first two starters for this week's series against LSU will remain the same: Luis Pollorena on Thursday, Nick Routt on Friday. Both were solid against Ole Miss. But Stratton on Saturday is now uncertain.
"That's our plan as of right now. But we will see how it goes," said Cohen, who will closely watch Stratton's health this week. But health isn't the only factor at work here.
MSU is in a battle for the SEC Western Division title, and yet it could be left out of the SEC Tournament altogether if things go badly this weekend. So Cohen is wanting to make sure he can get optimum performance out of his starters.
But just as he did after Saturday's game, Cohen expressed confidence in Stratton, who the previous week had a strong outing at Tennessee.
"We have Chris' back, in that we know how good he can be, we know how hard he works at it, we know how conscientious he is. He's the model student-athlete. Butch Thompson and John Cohen and Lane Burroughs and Nick Mingione, we're going to do whatever we can to get him going, because he's worth the effort."
So who would possibly replace Stratton in the rotation? Cohen didn't say, but it should be noted that sophomore Kendall Graveman (5-0, 3.51), who has one SEC start, is the likely starter Tuesday night at Memphis, so that probably rules him out. So you might be looking at an Evan Mitchell or a Daryl Norris or, dare I say, maybe a Devin Jones. Best-case scenario, of course, is that Stratton starts to feel better and regains his elusive mojo.