We didn't learn anything new last night. Wellemeyer v.2008 is merely a passing memory, replaced by Wellemeyer v. 2009, who sucks. I didn't think it would be possible to see Todd's ERA go up last night, but he exceeded expectations and did just that.
In fairness, he hasn't pitched at all really since 30 July, so I was expecting a lack of command and early fatigue, figuring he'd be out of the game after 5 at the most. But Wellemeyer didn't really walk anyone (1 in his 4 innings), and his first pitch command better than expected (21 batters faced, 5 1-0 counts, 13 0-1 counts (10 of those were strike one looking), 3 hitters put the first pitch in play). He also only had four 3-ball counts last night, and all four were within the first 6 hitters he faced.
Not pitching from behind early in the count, not a lot of deep counts - what happened? Sounds like he was wild in the strike zone, or in other words, left a lot of pitches up and out over the plate. Wellemeyer had 4 swinging strikes all night - by the same two hitters (1 in each of Uggla's at bats, 2 in the same Cameron Maybin at bat). Other pitches Marlins swung at were either fouled off or put in play. That's wild in the strike zone.
LaRussa refused to speculate as to when Wellemeyer's next appearance would be, which based on his performance is a valid position.
The problem is, now the Cardinals are showing some cracks at the back end of the rotation. Wellemeyer hasn't been right all year, Lohse hasn't been right since getting hit by a pitch, Smoltz has shoulder tendinitis. So where does the team go from here? Hawksworth has nailed down a slot in the bullpen as the 6th/7th inning guy, so he's not an option. Boggs? Possible as the #4 guy, but that still leaves a hole at #5.
Do we dare give a start to Thompson?
I will say this, having a 9.5 game lead is a huge luxury right now. I'd not want to face these kinds of decisions only leading by 2 or 3 games.
And a quick word about Lohse. The PD is reporting today he had discomfort during and after his Saturday start, although an MRI he had Sunday was 'unexceptional'. Lohse still has 3 years remaining on a $41 million contract. Here's a radical thought: shut down Lohse for the season. He's ineffective and hasn't been able to heal - why risk more damage?
The Cardinals face a rookie left-hander today. Let's hope the offensive explosion from yesterday keeps going.
Magic Number Watch:
Clinch Division: 10 (Cubs beat Milwaukee 2-0)
- Houston: 4 (lost to Cincinnati 3-1)
- Milwaukee: 4 (lost to Cubs)
- Cincinnati: ELIMINATED
- Pittsburgh: ELIMINATED
50 minutes ago