Tuesday, June 03, 2008

More Pitching Staff Follies

You want a definition for multi-tasking? Here's one:

- Playing with two highly energetic kids under the age of 2
- Watching Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals (why? Because if Detroit wins, they present the Cup)
- Monitoring the Cardinals/Pirates game

The highly energetic (also known as the Not-So-Gentle-Folk, and hereafter dubbed NSGF) refused to go to bed at a reasonable hour, so the multi-tasking continued deep into the night; in fact, my oldest finally gave up and went to bed just before the double minor penalty was called on Detroit in the third OT.

For most of this, the Cardinals led 4-0. At least, that was the score in the second, sixth, and seventh innings. I flip the TV over to ESPN to catch the end of the Yanks/Twins game (Nathan is my fantasy guy, remember), and across the bottom of the screen crawls this score:

Pirates 5, Cardinals 4.

What the hell?

At first, I thought the bullpen blew up again. Then I figure out that Wainwright was saddled with the loss. It looked like he was cruising! So I check the box score on sportsline.com: Wainwright gave up 4 in the seventh and 1 in the eighth. Nuts.

But that's not the disturbing part. Apparently, at least to the wire report sportsline carries, Wainwright tired in the sixth inning, although he worked out of a jam. LaRussa sent him back out there for the seventh, where he gave up double-walk-walk before the game tying Grand Slam. Smells like LaRussa had a gassed bullpen AGAIN.

So let's look at their usage since 5/27 to see who was available:

Perez: 5/28: 1 inning (11 pitches) , 5/29: 2/3 (9). AVAILABLE (and in fact, pitched the ninth last night).
McClellan: 5/29: 1 (10), 5/31: 1 (17), 6/1: 1 1/3 (18). NOT AVAILABLE.
Flores: 5/30: 2/3 (16), 6/1: 1/3 (4). AVAILABLE.
Franklin: 5/29: 1 (10), 5/30: 1/3 (10), 1 (17). AVAILABLE to close only.
Jimenez: 5/31: 3 1/3 (67). NOT AVAILABLE.
Villone: 5/29: 1/3 (8), 5/30: 1/3 (3), 5/31: 1 (34). NOT AVAILABLE.
Springer: 5/30: 1/3 (8), 5/31: 1 (6). AVAILABLE.

Two conclusions here. One: Parisi's clunker on Saturday stressed the bullpen so much that 29% of it wasn't available last night. Two: LaRussa had more options than just Perez available to him last night. This comment is made without a detailed review of where they were in the batting order, what hands the hitters are, relative success levels against the pitchers in his bullpen, but wouldn't you think Flores could have pitched the seventh and Springer the eighth? Or Perez one of those innings and Franklin the ninth? Or something like that?

With the Cubs playing as well as they are (eight in a row now), these Cardinals can't afford to give away games. And LaRussa does have a propensity to stick a little too long with his aces; as I've stated before, he's done it with Carpenter on numerous occasions over the past 3 years.


POSTSCRIPT: Jimmy E is in town with the Cubs right now. Last night: 2/4, 2 doubles, 2 RBI. He's hitting over .200 (which is awful, but given where he started, is a positive step). He now plays on a team I don't have a lot of love for, but Jim Edmonds remains one of my favorite players, so I'm glad to see him start doing well. Also, there was an interesting interview of him on XX 1090 AM (local radio) this morning; he clearly doesn't like talking about his Padre experience, although he (at least, according to the shock jock Scott on the radio's interpretation which I kind of agree with) took a veiled shot at the San Diego clubhouse with his last comments to the interviewer.

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