The Sixth Man

by on January 26, 2011 · 2 comments

At several points during the 2010 season, the Cardinals either had a 6th starting pitcher on the roster, or they had an injured starting pitcher out for the year (or both).  It’s safe to say that they are a bit too familiar with the concept of replacing a starting pitcher or two during the season, and they aren’t always presented with the best of options when faced with that situation.  This upcoming season might be different.  Why?

Mitchell Boggs.

Since 2008, Boggs has quietly been working on improving his game out in the bullpen, and that work hasn’t gone unnoticed.  Just check out the 3 year trend:

  • ERA:  7.41 -> 4.19 -> 3.61
  • Innings:  34.0 -> 58.0 -> 67 1/3
  • ERA+:  58 -> 98 -> 109
  • WHIP:  1.882 -> 1.793 -> 1.292
  • H/9:  11.1 -> 11.0 -> 8.0
  • BB/9:  5.8 -> 5.1 -> 3.6
  • SO/BB:  0.59 -> 1.39 -> 1.93

You don’t have to pick apart all the individual stats.  Just know that all of them are trending in the “good” direction.  Also, it’s potentially useful to know that he started over 100 games in the minor leagues.  Oh, and he just happens to throw a fastball that tops out at around 96-97 mph, and he can locate it really well.  Boggs is just about to turn 27, and he’s still in his pre-arbitration years.  If the Cardinals can turn him into a back-of-the-rotation type starter, he’d be a really nice and inexpensive option should someone break down this season or next. 

If Boggs can even improve just slightly on his 2010 numbers, why not at least give him some consideration for a rotation spot?  It’s great to have a shutdown bullpen, but that bullpen isn’t really relevant, if the team is already down by 5 runs by the 4th inning.  It just makes sense that a good 2011 campaign could secure Boggs a long-term place in the Cardinals plans.

TIDBIT:  Against Boggs, right handed batters hit .238/.306/.357/.664 and lefties hit .253/.358/.405/.763 in 2010.  He hasn’t shown top-of-the-rotation stuff, but he has shown potential.

MORE BITS OF TID:  In all 3 seasons in the big leagues, Boggs has had a ground ball to fly ball ratio above 1.00. 

Like it?  Do you have top-of-the-rotation stuff?  Tell me about it on Twitter!

Cardinals fan since I could hold a fishing pole steady. Accidental blogger. Opinionated. I could care less about what you think of me. Constantly confounded, bemused, and confuzzled (ie I'm a pc and a mac). I'm an IT infrastructure analyst with a penchant for breaking tech toys. I ate a sabermetric primer for breakfast. I love playing "All-powerful GM of MLB". The 2010 Cardinals represented a good, practical definition "cognitive dissonance". The 2011 version got by on duct tape and a prayer, and I'm fine with that. They just need new tape for #12 in 12.
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flavius217 January 26, 2011

It’s nice to see Boggs’ numbers trending up like that, but I like him bringing the heat in the late innings.

Isn’t Lance Lynn sort of the default Sixth Man anyway? Read something recently where he’d sustained an uptick in velocity, sitting 92-94 or something like that.

Dennis January 26, 2011

I like seeing Boggs there late in games as well, but his spot there could be taken by someone like Salas who had a lower ERA and higher SO/9 than Boggs. In his limited use (30 2/3 innings), Salas had an ERA of 3.52 and a strikeouts per 9 innings rate of 8.5 versus 7.0 for Boggs.

I think that Lynn regressed just enough at Memphis (4.77 ERA, 1.378 WHIP) last year that he’ll have to show improvement this season to earn 6th man consideration. He’s only 23, so patience in bringing him along could well be rewarded down the road. Just imagine somewhere down the line a starting 5 of Wainwright, Garcia, Boggs, Lance Lynn, and Shelby Miller.

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