As Mississippi State's starters continue to struggle in SEC play – they're averaging fewer than four innings per outing – coach John Cohen is looking for a spark. He said this morning that he "might end up making a couple of changes" to his weekend rotation.
Cohen is strongly considering moving sophomore reliever Luis Pollorena (5-3, 1.65 ERA) into either the Friday or Saturday slot, which would mean moving Chris Stratton or Nick Routt to another day. Those two have already been moved once, with Stratton going from Saturday to Friday starter, and Routt from Sunday to Saturday.
"There's no secret that Pollorena's been one of our best guys," Cohen said. "And that's been our biggest weakness, is getting a strong five or six innings, seven-inning performance. … Who he will replace, don't know that yet, but I think there's a really good chance he will pitch, because we're trying to very much address that issue with our club right now."
Pollorena, a junior college transfer, has been a strong middle relief pitcher this year. He's tossed 32.2 innings, second only to Caleb Reed among relievers. The southpaw from Laredo, Texas, was a starter last year for Marion (Ala.) Military Institute, posting an 11-2 record and 1.77 ERA, striking out 92 in 91.2 innings.
Cohen said he expects to make a decision by Wednesday, so as not to throw off his pitchers' workout routines and throwing programs. MSU (25-18, 8-13 SEC) visits Tennessee (22-20, 5-16) this weekend, and how the Bulldogs match up with the UT hitters could play into the decision. But there is much more to consider with Pollorena.
"The thing that Pollorena brings to the table is, it's more than even a matchup thing, it's a vibe, it's energy, it's leadership, it's control of the running game, it's being able to really defend," Cohen said.
This will leave a gaping hole in the bullpen, but the Bulldogs have some decent depth there, as shown by freshman Evan Mitchell's outing yesterday, when he tossed 3.2 innings of relief to earn the win.