Mike Matheny has garnered a little bit of a reputation as a manager who likes to have a pitcher in the bullpen that he only uses in an emergency. Last year, it was Joe Kelly who got buried at the deep end of the bullpen. This year, it seems like Keith Butler is that guy. Unlike last year, while Kelly was a Ferrari in the garage, Butler is maybe more like a Chevrolet. It’ll get you from A to B more often than not, but it won’t be flashy.
Here’s the problem with having a reliever who you only use in an emergency. Do you have a fire extinguisher in your home? I’m sure many of us do. Did you know these should be inspected regularly to ensure that they still have pressure and are in working order? I’m sure the reason why you’d do this makes sense to all of us reading, because you want it to work when you need it.
Same goes for an emergency relief pitcher. Butler hasn’t pitched in 11 days. I get that the last time he was out on the mound didn’t go well. He was tagged for 5 earned runs over an inning of work. His ERA stands at a glorious 45.00.
If anything, that shows that he needs work to diagnose the issues so that he can become a reliable member of the bullpen. He’ll certainly never become one if he never gets an opportunity to pitch. Last night, with a four run lead in the 9th (actually, more ideally the 8th while saving Martinez to get him out of a jam), would have been a perfect opportunity.
The Cardinals have one reliable arm in the bullpen right now, Carlos Martinez. Matheny has to find innings for the other guys in the bullpen to work out their issues or to attempt to execute those things they’ve been working on in side sessions. If you continue to ride Martinez, he could easily join the list of the ineffective bullpen arms or worse, end up on the DL. Then where are we?
I get riding the hot hand, but the other hands can’t get hot if they don’t play.