From my Sunday Spitballs – 06.08.08 post:
- Anyone else feel like the Cardinals badly need a sweep? It should’ve happened in the Nats series, but instead Ryan Franklin did his best Jason Isringhausen imitation. They really need to get on a tear to get some confidence back, it would seem. Sooner or later, the Cubs will run away with the division if the Cards can’t string together five or six wins in a row.
I support what I think Tony had in mind last night, which is what a lot of us Cardinal fans have been clamoring for. Sooner or later, they are going to have to try to stretch the bullpen out a little bit. Let these guys face more than one hitter, let them create and get out of their own jams. What I don’t support is him testing this new theory out with Randy Flores.
Fungoes details Flores’ struggle last night very appropriately and succinctly, in my opinion:
Bullpens are going to have off nights and walk people. It happens. But if TLR prides himself on putting people in situations in which they have the best chance to succeed, he needs to stay awake at the wheel when dealing with high-leverage situations and his relievers.
In this case, that ‘asleep at the wheel’ situation they’re describing was leaving LOOGY Flores in to face two right-handed hitters in Paul Janish and Brandon Phillips. Now, that’s all fine and good, and a prudent observation, with right-handers getting on-base at a .382 clip versus Flores.
Here’s where i have the most beef. Flores had Janish in a 1-2 count and couldn’t get the job done. One ball and two strikes to a punch-and-judy hitter who is currently hitting .222 in all of 45 Major League at-bats, and Flores tried to get cute. It almost worked, as I think Janish fired off about 5 check swings in a row, but he couldn’t get the job done. Janish walked, then Flores imploded upon himself (as he is wont to do), and the rest is what it is or was.
I think this bullpen is craving consistency more than anything. If LaRussa is going to pull Flores after facing one left-handed hitter per game, then do that every time he goes out. Don’t throw his routine for a loop by suddenly allowing him to walk everything on the planet and face guys who are just ticking time-bombs waiting to go off in Flores’ face.
Ultimately, it appears more and more that this team is going to make or break it’s season with their bullpen. They are getting good starts (Joel Pineiro pitched well for his first start back), they are getting clutch hitting, I personally think they can weather the storm without Albert Pujols for a month. But they need consistency out of the bullpen to keep them in games. Had they gotten out of the seventh last night with only the walked-in run scored, they still have a great shot. Four runs just took the wind of the Troy Glaus home run out of their sails and it was over.