Wednesday Chess Match: How long for Jaime?

Tonight’s game, from the Cardinals’ side, was pretty straightforward tactically. However, I got a few tweets (@MatthewHLeach) and some comments on the game story about removing Jaime Garcia, so that’s what we’re going with.

The situation: Cardinals lead, 6-0, with two outs and a runner on first base in the bottom of the seventh inning. Jaime Garcia has thrown 102 pitches and is coming off two breezy innings.
The decision: Tony La Russa decides to lift Garcia after seven innings, pinch-hitting for him with Nick Stavinoha and bringing in Kyle McClellan to pitch the eighth.
The outcome: Stavinoha popped up, but it wasn’t really about the pinch-hitter. Kyle McClellan and Mitchell Boggs each pitched a shutout inning as the Cardinals finished off the 6-0 win.
The analysis: It’s April, and Garcia is still 23 and only a year and a half removed from elbow surgery. The club has said all along that it wants to be cautious with him. McClellan and Boggs were both fresh, and the lead was safely in hand.
The counterargument seems to have to do with giving Garcia a chance to finish the game, but it’s April, and even if he’d been extremely efficient, you’re talking close to 120 pitches to finish it off.
The comment: “What’s the point [of leaving him in]? You know now that he comes out of the game and five days from now he’s going to feel great against Philadelphia. That’s a good thing to feel.”
My verdict: 100 percent with the skipper. As I suggested at the top, I was sincerely surprised with the number of people who viewed this as even an issue. After Garcia’s 26-pitch fifth, I believe that he needed an efficient sixth even to come out for the seventh. They’re protecting this guy, and for good reason.
This one, for me, was a very easy call.
-M.

10 Comments

I couldn’t agree with you more!!!!

yeah, i was at the game and expected the switch after the seventh. i would’ve been far more surprised if he was left in. i want him in the rotation as long as possible, this year, and beyond. no qualms here.

the idea of people being upset about it seems crazy. this is the first i’ve read of anyone thinking it was a bad move.

granted, i haven’t read anything else yet, no stltoday or vivaelbirdos yet.

i doubt you’ll answer, but i’m curious where the counter-argument came from. strauss?

No, the counter-argument is all from tweets and the comments on my game story.

-M.

Agree 100%. In fact, I would have had no problem with it if Tony took him out after 6, given the score and where he was in his pitch count. Jaime needs to be protected and if you buy into the Verducci effect, which evidence seems to support, Jaime’s total IP needs to be kept at a particular level this year. We don’t want to hurt him for subsequent years by overworking him this year. I’m also surprised that this was even an issue for some folks. Only thing I can figure is they either don’t know Jaime’s story or will take any opportunity to criticize LaRussa.

Complete game. as usual, this bullpen is very, very scary – let them all pitch complete games – mid relief will be the undoing of this club.

That “scary” bullpen:

2.57 ERA, 4th best in the Major Leagues

3 HR allowed, 2nd best in the Major Leagues

1 blown save, 2nd best in the Major Leagues

-M.

I hope that blown save doesn’t include the 20 inning marathon b/c that wasn’t their fault, not their fault all real pitchers were used up too early.

Great points. I really dig the chess match segment and would love to see even more of it. Question, though–Why is Garcia still pitching between Carpenter and Wainwright?

Why wouldn’t he? I don’t understand why that’s relevant.

-M.

Home team can’t have a blown save (or a save at all) in extra innings.
-M.

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