All together now. Starters can’t relieve and be effective in a MLB game EVER. It’s always and historically been a bad decision. Without getting into the details of tonight’s wretched Dodgers blowout, let me point out a few things I firmly believe. Starters aren’t wired to relieve a game. I don’t care if he comes in 2 pitches or 22 pitches after the start of the game. They aren’t set up that way and can be hurt physically or see their ERA inflated. Relievers are wired to relieve, deal with a catastrophe and be effective. This is plain baseball logic.
Disagree with me all you want, but this is my blog, my beliefs and I will say this all the way to the bank and back. Jake Westbrook can’t be scratching his balls one moment, suddenly be told to warm up, and come in to pitch and be effective. Michael Blazek, as we saw, got up, came in, allowed a couple baserunners but didn’t allow a single run after Shelby Miller took a laser off his right pitching elbow. Blazek should have stayed in for at least another inning. He used to be a starter, is expendable and can be sent down to Memphis tomorrow to retool. Mike Matheny brought in Westbrook and the suddenly dismal veteran gave up 6 runs in the second inning. Game lopsided and out of reach. He gave up 3 more in the 6th inning and ended up with this pitching line.
4.2 innings, 9 runs, 14 hits, 108 pitches. BANG! Game isn’t over but falling off the cliff to the bottom of the night.
Let me play manager here. Blazek gets through 2 innings, and Keith Butler comes in to pitch 2-3 innings. Seth Maness barely threw any pitches Tuesday night. He has pitched 2 innings before. Kevin Siegrist can also throw 1-2 innings. If you manage to have a lead, Rosenthal and Mujica take over in the 8th and 9th. You never know. I will say this. I don’t think the bullpen would have given up 6 runs so fast or 9 runs after 6 innings. The operation failed and I knew it would the minute it happened. My words can be debated but I firmly believe in a bullpen rescue mission. Westbrook throws tomorrow with Carlos Martinez and another Memphis hand backing the pen up.
Understand this was plain bad luck for the Birds. Miller leaves after 2 pitches. Matheny has a lot of choices in his head. I was ready to see a bullpen night, especially after Blazek gritted out the first inning. I could see us contending in that game.
Once again, relievers are ready every night to handle this chaos. Think of the word relief. Ready to be of help to a hurting party. Aide the weak. The bullpen is like a fire department on call every night for the worst possible event. They came to the aide of Miller, Matheny and the Cards tonight. They were quickly dismissed.
Westbrook is a victim here. He can’t say no to this mission. He takes the ball, straps on a bullet proof vest and does his best. He is the worst starter on this staff to come out of the bullpen. Westbrook requires a slick equilibrium to his starts to be effective. Fair strike zone. Lucky ground balls. Needs one pitch to work or else. He can’t work or grit his way through a start he wasn’t making for another 24 hours. He wasn’t cut out for the mission. Once again, unfair night for the Birds. If this thing happened with Joe Kelly pitching tomorrow, he would have fared a lot better than Westbrook in my opinion.
The Cards have pecked away and it’s 9-4. Winnable game if you believe in miracles. The LA pen is stacked and ready to close this thing down. We will fall to 3 games out behind the Pirates. Worse scenarios exist. We have 2 more series’ with the Pirates this month. Deficits can be cut. This game tonight isn’t easy to swallow because I disagree with the course taken.
Miller suffered an elbow contusion. Basically, a bad bruise on the bone. He may be out a week or it could extend to 2-3 weeks. If the Cards coaching staff wanted his pitch count down, it will be cut short now. He returns towards the end of the month ready to go for the stretch push. Maybe this is a blessing in disguise.
The Cards are prepared to handle this. Carlos Martinez was scheduled to start tomorrow and will be coming to Busch to make that start. That is the only plausible course for this team. Sacrifice Westbrook tonight and go with Martinez tomorrow. He is the one hot prospect that hasn’t been given a start up in the show this year. Let’s see what baby Carlos has in store. He will be pitching for a split most likely but he can handle it. He has had two stints here and been teased with this level of competition. The Dodgers haven’t seen him and have no idea what he’s got. The only positive of starting Westbrook a day early was having the chance to insert Martinez into the rotation after a long wait.
I don’t want to see Tyler Lyons. He is batting practice meat by the 5th inning. NO…THANK YOU.
David Freese got hot in Cincinnati but so do a lot of struggling hitters when they play in a sandbox. Back at home, he is 1-6 this series against the Dodgers. He is hitting .272 on the season with 6 HR and 41 RBI. 88 hits in 93 games. We weren’t paying him 4 million to be Jon Jay. Unless he heats up seriously, he will have a bad year and may be gone. Tangy provel cheese ladies and gents!
Pete Kozma isn’t a good hitter but stop calling for Ryan Jackson. RJ’s bat has calmed down the past 2 months. He hit .229 in July and cranking it up at a clip of .182 so far this month with Memphis. He won’t be an improvement. Cards are stuck with Koz/DD for 2013 unless Mozelaik pulls a bunny out of a hat.
What else? It’s 10pm and 9-4 Dodgers with Puig at the plate. A Cards fan snatched a ball away from Puig a couple of innings ago. It was legit. The fan didn’t reach out and steal it. He held up his glove in foul territory and caught a ball Puig wasn’t going to catch. That fan will never forget that.
Randy Choate has been a good reliever for this team. He is good at what we brought him in for. He isn’t a multiple inning guy. He is being asked to get more than 3 outs tonight and starting to wear out. In no other game this year will Matheny ask Choate to get a fierce RH like Puig out. The phenom walked instead and now Randy faces the tenacious Skip Schumacher. Groundout. Inning over. I don’t do play by play. Which is the reason I would hate to be a simple beat reporter for the Cards. Where’s the fun in that?
Goodnight. Thanks for reading this dreary post. Game of baseball stings. Up one night. Down the next. Time to reload for tomorrow.