Mississippi State head coach John Cohen said on Sunday he was going to go up and down the roster and find some players who wanted to throw strikes out of the bullpen.
He didn’t need to use his bullpen in a 5-2 midweek win over Eastern Illinois, as Lucas Laster went the distance.
This weekend will be the first time Cohen will use his bullpen since seeing them implode in the eighth inning twice in a series loss to Alabama.
The Bulldogs (17-6, 1-2) hit the road for the first time this season as they travel to Lexington, Kent., to take on the Kentucky Wildcats (13-7, 0-3).
“The arm only allows you to do so much,” Cohen said who was the head coach at Kentucky for five years. “You can compete offensively a bunch. There’s a ton you can do. The thing that you’re going to do with a lot of arms is you’re going to do video work, you’re going to communicate and I think (pitching coach) Butch Thompson does that as well or better than anybody in the entire country. I think we’ve had a good week of preparation.”
Friday’s game is set for 5:30 p.m. Saturday’s game will have a 1 p.m. first pitch, while Sunday’s finale is scheduled for noon. All three games can be seen on SEC Network+.
In the first 16 games of the season, the Bulldog bullpen went 5-1 with a 1.87 earned run average and six saves in as many opportunities. In the seven games since, the bullpen has blown three save opportunities and is 1-4 with a 9.00 ERA. Teams are outscoring MSU 18-0 in the eighth inning in those seven games.
“We need to simplify things,” senior right hander Trevor Fitts said. “Our pitchers are kind of making things too complicated there late in the game. We’re trying to pitch around guys that we may not necessarily should be pitching around and that’s causing more baserunners to get on base. It’s just making the situation even worse for the next guy that comes in, or for that pitcher that’s still out there.”