Miller, Wainwright Allow Matheny to Reset Bullpen

by on April 23, 2013 · 0 comments

Adam Wainwright

Adam Wainwright (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Shelby Miller: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K

Adam Wainwright: 8.1 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K

Three total innings of relief in two games.

This is an opportunity for the much-maligned Cardinals bullpen and their manager to reboot. Reset expectations. Survive and advance (am I wandering into the wrong sport here?).

Mitchell Boggs needs fixing, and the manager has all but acknowledged it.  Trevor Rosenthal needs a break.  Joe Kelly needs innings.  And there’s not a more appropriate time than following the starting efforts of Miller and Wainwright to do it.

Give Rosey another day off, just for good measure.  Let Boggs have a day or two to shake out the demons, and when you bring him back, make it more of a “Joe Kelly-ish” role.  In other words, low leverage and well-chosen (read: perhaps sparingly).  On the other hand, let that Ferrari out of the shed a bit.  Matheny was either getting closer to that point tonight, with Kelly warming up, or was itching at the chance to use Kelly in his originally intended “long-relief” role if and when the game was tied up.  I choose to believe the former.

So if there is only one bullpen role solidified (ok, two if you count Randy Choate throwing a third every other game) – Edward Mujica appears to be the closer du jour – then what’s to say that going forward anyone else down there has to be beholden to a particular inning or job?  If the situation calls for triple digit heat and a deftly located 89-mph slider, Rosey’s your guy.  If it’s upper-90′s and then a filthy sinker, based on batter or batters coming up, then Joe Kelly.  Boggs can fill in until he decides he can pitch again.  Choate and Marc Rzepczynski can arm wrestle (with their right arms, natch) for the job of frustrating left-handed batters.

Oversimplifying?  Why yes, I am.  It’s my hobby job hobby.  You’ve forgotten Fernando Salas, you say?  I beg to differ, I retort. **

** ED. note – For the record, I didn’t forget Fernando Salas.  I also didn’t have anything further to add.  He is not included in this web log post.  I’m not sure how to be any more clear about this subject.

Early usage of Rosenthal, Boggs, Mujica, et al has seemed to follow a pattern of “these are my guys in these innings” instead of a focus on who is rested, who matches up best, and perhaps most importantly who can get the most important out – which is the one currently at the plate.  If that’s the starter, great.  Let him bunt with runners in scoring position and two outs (let the record show I disagreed vehemently with this decision, but was roundly dismissed by the masses).  But as much as that unfortunate situation may have been an indictment of the bullpen, let’s not confuse it with letting Miller hit for himself Monday night with the bases loaded, only 75 pitches thrown, and cruising.  MIKE might be protecting his bullpen in some cases, but in others, the dominating starter is the guy to run with.  ’Twas the case Monday night, and is likely to be the case again sometime soon.

Get the best arm into the game for the situation.  I can’t believe I’m arguing for small sample size situational use, but by golly, this whole “YOU GET THE SEVENTH” and “YOU GET THE EIGHTH” ad infinitum makes me bonk my head.

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Writing about the Cardinals and other loosely associated topics since 2008, I've grown tired of the April run-out only to disappoint Cardinal fans everywhere by mid-May. I do not believe in surrendering free outs.
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