Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Looper shines as bats sleep

Braden Looper is going to start talking to himself one of these days. The guy has pitched his butt off since the All-Star Break. I did a quick numbers breakdown (courtesy of Baseball Reference), and since the break he's 2-3 with a 3.14 ERA in 7 starts. If we eliminate his 18 July start against San Diego (3 innings, 6 ER), he's still 2-3 but with a 2.03 ERA.

Yes that's right: he's barely given up 2 runs a game over his past 6 starts, and has 3 losses and a no-decision to show for it. Frustrating.

I like his comments in the Post-Dispatch today:

"It's a game we had a chance to win as a team," said Looper (11-10). "I make one
more pitch, or a one guy gets one more hit, and it's a different story. … We
need to win that game. These games are really starting to matter and we need to
win games like that."

Words of a competitor, who wants to win, who's frustrated, but who isn't Carlos Silva. And he's right: they only have so many opportunities left this season to make a move. Milwaukee lost last night, St Louis is playing a weak sister, they need to win games like that.

I hadn't realized they've lost 8 of their last 11 at home until reading the post-game write-up this morning. If you can't win at home, you most definitely don't deserve to be in the playoff hunt. They need to turn that around PRONTO.

The other big news this morning is Jason Isringhausen. It is bring reported today he has a torn flexor muscle near his right elbow. Izzy's season is over. The article indicated that he will call it a career rather than undergo surgery and rehab to repair the damage. Izzy's 37, and that's a lot of work to go through for what - 1 to 2 years more playing time? With the Cardinals closer of the future already throwing well in St Louis (at least these past 2 weeks), and closers being such a perishable commodity, he might not be able to latch on somewhere once his rehab is complete (although Troy Percival seems to have done well after 2 years off, despite 3 trips to the DL).

Lboros over at VEB till probably do a post-mortem this morning on Izzy. I haven't surfed over there yet, I wanted to get my thoughts on paper before I read theeir post and had it influence my thinking. But judging from what he wrote on Walt Jocketty earlier this year, I expect his Izzy discussion to be worth the read.

As for me, I'll say this. Izzy came into the league as a Met, a can't-miss starter who (along with Pulsphier and Wilson) was supposed to lead the Met starting rotation for the next 10 years (a la Smoltz, Glavine, and Maddux). Didn't turn out that way due to injuries to all 3. Izzy also fought TB while a Met, adding that to his pitching issues. He went to Oakland and re-invented himself as a closer. 293 total saves in his career. 217 as a Cardinal, the team's all-time leader in the category. He also holds the team's season record for saves (47) set during the fantastic 2004 season. Not a bad ending for a busted starting pitcher prospect.

Izzy always brought his lunch pail to the game and worked his butt off. The comsummate gamer. Yes he had his share of high-wire ninths, and in recent times his success rate dipped noticeably, but he always took the ball and battled. My lasting memory of him will be Game 4 of the 2004 World Series (also the last game my Dad and I went to together), where he came into the eighth with no one out and the sacks loaded and worked out of the jam. His only appearance in any World Series game. Busch was very, very loud as he walked off the mound that night, because he kept the flickering flame of hope alive for one more inning.

We've talked about great Cardinals who should have their numbers retired by the team. Not necessarily HOF players, but above average good ones who played well for the hometown nine. Willie McGee certainly deserves to have his number retired. Jason Isringhausen does too.

If this is it, rest your oars, Jason - you earned it. Vaya con Dios.

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