Cohen: On Freshmen, Whitney, Sunday Struggles

It was another rough weekend for MSU’s young arms. Heck, for all the Bulldogs’ arms. In three games, No. 12 South Carolina scored a total of 31 runs off Bulldog pitching in taking two of three in Columbia.

So here are several talking points, all about pitching, I covered in a conversation I had this afternoon with second-year coach John Cohen.

• It began badly Friday night, when freshman starter Kendall Graveman never got an out, exiting after facing just five batters. He gave up four runs (three earned) on two hits, walking the three other hitters. Cohen said Graveman (1-2, 7.30 ERA) hasn’t lost his confidence.

“He’s fine. He’s a tough kid,” Cohen said. “He’s come into a pretty difficult situation. He threw two pitches that are really going to get him out of the inning, and they’re called balls instead of strikes. Were they balls, were they strikes? It’s a hair, it’s an eyelash, and that’s the way our league works.”

• On Saturday, freshman Chris Stratton (3-3, 3.75) fared a little better, lasting five innings and giving up three runs on eight hits. Said Cohen, “He pitched very well in that environment. He’s going to be really good in the future, there’s no question about that.”

• Then senior Tyler Whitney took the hill Sunday. He was the third different SEC Sunday starter in as many weeks for MSU, which is without sophomore Nick Routt (arm injury). It might’ve been the last start of Whitney’s career, according to Cohen. Whitney allowed five runs on two hits in 2.1 innings.

“I don’t know if we can put him back out there and give him another start knowing what we know. And that’s tough, it’s tough on our coaching staff. Because we really want it to happen for him, it just never has.”

Whitney was a weekend starter last year.

• Cohen said that sophomore right-hander Caleb Reed (0-2, 4.31), who’s been solid in relief duty, could draw the start this Sunday against Arkansas. Or, Cohen said “it might be anybody. But we sure would like to have Routt back. Even Routt at his worst, half the time, with things not going well, you think he’s going to give you four or five innings.”

Routt was scheduled to have a second MRI done on his throwing arm, which he injured on opening weekend against Florida. He has an injury to his ulnar collateral ligament, but the severity of it is not known. I’ve left a text message with Routt and will let you know what I find out.