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.
Here’s the problem. Lets name all the Cardinals’ pitchers who were worse against right handed batters than Choate last year. Seth Maness, Michael Blazek, Victor Marte, Maikel Cleto, Mitchell Boggs, and Marc Rzepczynski. See a recurring theme? Only Maness remains with the team (thanks to his double play ability, no doubt). The rest have been traded or released.
Point is, 38 year old pitchers who are 14 year veterans of the big leagues don’t become lefty specialists because teams decided not to let him face right handed batters. No, I’m pretty sure at this point in his career it’s because he’s a heckuva lot better against left handers than he is against right handers and there are usually a pletora of pitchers in a bullpen better against right handers.
With the depth of the bullpen with Trevor Rosenthal, Carlos Martinez, Seth Maness, Pat Neshek, and Keith Butler there is no need for Choate to be facing right handed hitters unless he’s sandwiched by a pair of lefties. In fact, every other Cardinals’ reliever has faced a left handed batter this year, except Choate. You know how many relievers in the Cardinals’ bullpen were better against lefties last year than Choate? Just one. The other lefty in the bullpen.
For years the Cardinals struggled to piece together a competent left handed specialist out of the bullpen. Lots of cheap failures, lots of failed potential. Mozeliak finally goes out and spends for one of the premier LOOGYs in baseball and the manager decides to not use him in that role. #BecauseMatheny