Baseball is a funny sport, all around. Rarely do you say going on the road versus the 2nd team in the West could be a breather, but that's my opinion as your Mississippi State Bulldogs travel to loveliest village on the plains (what the crap does that even mean) to take on the Auburn Tigers in a 3 game series.
MSU has a 2-4 conference record through the first 2 weeks, which at first glance could be construed as disappointing. My normal cynicism let actual logic and analysis take over, so I've come to the conclusion that the season is not over and all is not lost. We've dropped both series to two top 15 programs renown for their programs, so despite Auburn's 4-2 conference performance thus far, the level of competition should still be a step down.
Everyone knows the Bulldogs have been battling injuries for the past few weeks, but it looks that pitcher Ben Bracewell and OF Brett Brownlee may return to action this weekend, albeit most likely in small doses and certain situations. OF C.T. Bradford got the start twice last weekend vs Arkansas, but performed poor at the plate going 0-7, so don't look for him to get too much time in center. 3B Daryl Norris isn't on the 27 man travel roster, and I haven't seen anything on Stark, so I'm assuming he's not making the trip either.
The weekend pitching rotation seems to have been set. Chris Stratton (5-0 2.21 ERA) will certainly take the mound Friday night, followed by Nick Routt (1-3, 4.01) and Kendall Graveman (2-0 2.45) on Sunday. The Bulldogs' performance on the mound hasn't been of question through the first two weekends of league play, but the bats sure need to come alive for State to have any chance of taking 2 of 3 away from the friendly confines of Dudy Noble Field (I'm an Astros fan and I'm stealing that phrase from all you Cubbies).
Bulldog pitchers obviously need to keep careful when Auburn CF Ryan Tella is at the plate. He was named Co-SEC player of the week this past week after raking at home vs LSU. He's batting .438 on the season with an on base percentage of .536.
Look for the Tigers to throw Derek Varnadore (1-2 4.23) on Friday night, with Will Kendall (3-0 1.98) going Saturday and Daniel Koger (1-1 1.67) tossing on Sunday.