I have to admit, I wasn’t surprised when the Cardinals optioned Mike Parisi to Memphis in favor of Mitchell Boggs on Friday. In hindsight, it’s actually looking like the right move, with Todd Wellemeyer still nursing his elbow, and Boggs scheduled to take his turn in the rotation on Tuesday in Cincinnati.
But I also couldn’t help but think that while he was clearly atrocious in a starting role, Parisi had been seemingly successful coming out of the bullpen.
A quick trip to that wonderful site Baseball Reference proved that I was right. Parisi was posting a 2.87 ERA in 15 2/3 IP in 8 appearances. Small sample size, you say? Perhaps, but in his 6 2/3 innings as a starter his ERA was 17.55. Obviously quite a difference. Parisi was still giving up better than a hit an inning as a reliever, but runners weren’t crossing the plate.
Digging a little deeper, curiosity led me to wonder who had been catching in most of Parisi’s innings (and I should preface by saying I’m not a Jason LaRue fan).
Turns out that in 11 2/3 relief innings with Yadier Molina behind the plate, Parisi posted a 2.31 ERA, surrendering 3 earned runs. Four relief innings over two outings with LaRue behind the plate? A 4.50 ERA, giving up 2 ER.
I tell you that to tell you this: Parisi’s catcher for both of his starts? That’s right, it was LaRue.
I can’t help but wonder if things might’ve turned out differently for the kid in his starts with someone else calling the pitches. I know, I know, Molina and LaRue don’t throw the hangers on 0-2, Parisi does. But I have to believe that the catcher can have some measure of influence, especially on a young pitcher.
All that being said, I still think Parisi could return to the bullpen and be as successful as he was prior to the two starts blowing up his ERA (hopefully not his confidence, although Tony letting him in to labor on Thursday night surely didn’t help).
Again, in hindsight, with the injuries to Wellemeyer and now Adam Wainwright, something likely would’ve had to happen anyway to make room for someone else to start. Parisi surely wasn’t going to get another shot after his first two outings. But why not leave Mark Worrell in Memphis and bring up Mitchell Boggs to replace Kelvin Jimenez when that experiment (again) went sour? Especially if Boggs was going to start with the Cards in the bullpen anyway? Why not finally put Rick Ankiel on the disabled list with that knee infection and make room to have an extra pitcher around when they had to work around the double-header?
I’m all about getting the players who give you the best chance to win on the roster, and giving these young kids a chance – but it has to be a fair competition. Here’s hoping for a quick return to St Louis for Parisi, to get that chance in a more normal role.