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.
As I mentioned last fall when Mike Matheny announced that Trevor Rosenthal would be the team’s closer at the beginning of the 2014 season, there seems to be a curse on official closers. Just look back at Ryan Franklin in 2011. Or Jason Motte and Mitchell Boggs in 2013. Now we’re dealing with Rosenthal struggling out of the gate in 2014. It’s a bad track record.
With pitchers who rely on pure speed as a major factor of performance, my concern is always that any slight discomfort or worry about control can affect your velocity and, as a result, your performance. Kevin Reynolds and I spoke about confidence and Boggs a lot last season and how that little extra ounce of confidence can be the difference between a hard to hit 94 mph fastball and a 92 mph easy to hit one. I wondered if that’s what Trevor Rosenthal is dealing with.
I was sitting at work on Wednesday afternoon loading up MLBtv so that I could watch the game against the Cincinnati Reds. The Cardinals, after winning the first two games of the series, were going for the sweep against Mike Leake. This was a great sign for the Cardinals, against whom Leake had a 5.95 ERA against over 8 starts. With Shelby Miller on the mound and his career 3.24 ERA against the Reds, things were looking positive.
Brand Keys, a research consultancy firm, specializes in customer loyalty and what makes it. Hardball Talks, recently posted about the research the Brand Keys did into baseball teams and fan loyalty. The results found the St. Louis Cardinals nabbing the top spot on the ratings. The Philadelphia Phillies were second, the Boston Red Sox third. I was personally surprised that the Chicago Cubs didn’t have a spot in the top-5.
The news came out over the weekend in an article by Derrick Goold that the Cardinals want Randy Choate to be more than just a lefty specialist in the bullpen. According to Matheny, the Cardinals can’t afford to use Choate in just a specialist role going forward and the tinkering with his role is in pursuit of what’s best for the bullpen. I would figure what’s best for the bullpen is to put your relievers in the best position possible to succeed, but maybe I’m wrong.