By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – John Cohen has a wealth of options when it comes to weekend starters, and he’s still considering the possibilities.
He’s got the rotation figured out for this weekend, when No. 3 Mississippi State (16-0) hosts Central Arkansas (12-1) for a three-game set starting tonight. It’ll be Jacob Lindgren today, Evan Mitchell on Saturday and then Kendall Graveman on Sunday.
MSU played four games each of the first three weekends, so Cohen was able to get some starts for Will Cox, too. But once SEC play begins next week against LSU, it’ll be three games at a time, so Cohen is trying to hammer out the rotation.
Not that he will necessarily startthe same three every weekend.
“I would be surprised if it doesn’t fluctuate, because (of) different ballparks, different types of clubs, and if you have a variety of different arms that can help you, why not use it to your advantage? And we certainly believe in our pitching staff,” Cohen said.
Working for weekend
Mitchell, a junior, and Graveman, a senior, have both been weekend starters in the past. Lindgren, a sophomore, had only two career starts entering this season but has so far been solid. He’s 2-0 with a 0.98 ERA, 22 strikeouts and four walks in 221⁄3 innings.
Along with Cox (2-0, 0.60), sophomore Brandon Woodruff (1-0, 2.61) could also factor into the weekend. He’s been a midweek starter thus far, and had done well until Tuesday’s outing against Mississippi Valley State. He left after facing just four batters.
“He’s going to pitch in some big games this year for us,” Cohen said. “But for whatever reason that night just wasn’t his night. He’ll learn from it.”
The depth of pitching has created a healthy inner competition, according to Mitchell, who’s 0-0 with a 2.08 ERA.
“It’s just, we’re getting better from each other,” he said. “This is probably the closest team I’ve ever played on in my life, and we’re all just trying to help each other get better and get to our ultimate goal.”
The depth means none of this weekend’s starters should feel too safe in their roles, because someone else could replace them. For Mitchell, he knows there are improvements he needs to make.
Last weekend against Saint Joseph’s, he walked five batters but worked around trouble.
“I haven’t really been allowing those big, big hits that are clearing the bases,” Mitchell said. “I haven’t been up to where I need to be to help the team, definitely, but I figure I’m taking steps and ready to make that next step this weekend.”