By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
Mississippi State hasn’t settled on a regular Sunday starting pitcher, but that’s not of great concern to coaches.
Depth on the pitching staff has allowed the Bulldogs to give different players a shot in SEC series-closing games.
Kendall Graveman held that role for three weeks until getting promoted to the Saturday spot. Since then, Caleb Reed, Evan Mitchell and Luis Pollorena have all drawn Sunday starts.
Those three have posted a combined 2.08 ERA over four SEC starts, and Pollorena had the best outing, tossing 51⁄3 shutout innings in Sunday’s win over Ole Miss.
So who starts this Sunday at Alabama?
“I think it’s matchups,” MSU pitching coach Butch Thompson said. “Where we’re at this late in the year, everybody’s pretty comfortable and feels like we have a chance to be competitive with Chris (Stratton) and Kendall. We have to throw the appropriate guy (Sunday) that we think gets us off the first time through the lineup with the best matchup.”
Pollorena’s outing was the longest for a Game 3 starter since Graveman pitched 51⁄3 on March 25 versus Arkansas. A deep bullpen is another reason Thompson and head coach John Cohen don’t worry much. With Stratton and Graveman eating up innings the first two days, there are plenty of available arms to back up the Sunday guy.
With three weekends left in the regular season, Cohen feels great about where his pitching staff stands.
The Bulldogs (27-17, 10-11 SEC) have a team ERA of 2.87 and look to be well-stocked for a strong postseason run.
“All the weightroom work, all the long-toss program, all the preparation they do, I think our kids are getting stronger,” Cohen said. “I feel like if we do what we should do down the stretch and we get into a (NCAA) regional, I think we’re a very good team in a regional because we have pitching depth, and the quality of the stuff just continues to get better.”