Mississippi State’s pitching has been spotty this season, but two guys have been solid as starters: freshman lefty Nick Routt and junior lefty Tyler Whitney. Routt is 2-1 with a 2.56 ERA, eighth-best in the SEC. Whitney is also 2-1, with a 2.82 ERA. As they have in the first two SEC series this season, Whitney and Routt will start Friday and Saturday, respectively, against Arkansas.
“I think our kids really sense on weekends when Whitney and Routt are on the mound, we have a real chance to win the game,” MSU coach John Cohen said this morning. Routt has been especially sharp, with 31 strikeouts and eight walks in 31.2 innings. To Cohen, that’s beyond impressive.
“When you’re really good in this league, like Georgia, you take freshmen like Routt and you slowly involve him as a Tuesday or Wednesday type starter, and you get their feet wet, and as a sophomore and junior they’re ready to do well on weekends,” Cohen said. “We don’t have that luxury. He’s done amazingly well.”
Why has he done so well? Cohen said he throws a lot of strikes, has deception in his delivery, has a good repertoire – in general, “His understanding of his delivery and what he’s trying to do is so far beyond his age.”
Two problems for State (14-10, 2-4 SEC) have mitigated some of what Routt and Whitney have done: The rest of the pitching staff has been suspect, and the run support isn’t always there. The Bulldogs stranded 12 runners last weekend against Georgia – in each game. That’s 36 total for the mathematically challenged among you. MSU is 11th in the SEC in hitting (.287) and ninth in runs (141).
“We’re not an overly skilled offensive club,” Cohen said. “I thought our hitters in some cases were overmatched (against Georgia).”
More on the Bulldogs in tomorrow’s Journal.