Note of the night, stat of the day, June 14

Note of the night: How it got to that point

We had a lengthy chat with TLR about the bullpen and the sequence of events in the 7th inning after Tuesday night’s game. Lots of things came up, lots of possibilities tossed about. Here are a few of the things at play:

1, Eduardo Sanchez was unavailable. This is something to follow up on tomorrow, since he had thrown one inning and eight pitches over the previous four days. But per TLR, Sanchez was not available. Worth noting in this context: Sanchez threw three fastballs in his last outing, all at 88 or 89 miles per hour. In his previous outing, he consistently sat at 94-95 and touched 96 once.

2. He also was not going to use Franklin in that game, especially once runners were on base. TLR consistently referred to his options as we discussed the inning — Salas was going to close, Sanchez was unavailable, Motte was going to pitch the eighth and Boggs was, in his mind, still something of an uncertainty as he returns to relief work after being in the Minors. He never mentioned Franklin’s name. So I brought up Franklin, and he basically acknowledged that in a game like that, again ESPECIALLY once there were runners on, he wasn’t going to bring Franklin in.

3. Which means there’s a problem here. If Franklin isn’t really an option in a close game with a lead, and Sanchez is for whatever reason unavailable (and, again, still no exact word on what “unavailable” meant in this case or how long it would be true), and Brian Tallet has gotten strafed since his return from the disabled list, and Miller has been effective at times but also somewhat spotty… it’s a really, really short list of guys who the manager is willing to turn to with a lead. There’s Salas. There’s Motte, but they clearly choose their spots carefully with Motte; they like him against certain types of hitters, and they like him with runners on. There’s Batista.

4. And there’s Boggs, who looked very good. TLR seemed to second-guess himself, just a bit, regarding Boggs. As mentioned above, he didn’t want to throw Boggs into the heat too soon, but I think it’s a pretty safe guess that that may be changing soon. I suspect you’ll see Boggs in increasingly high-leverage situations before too long at all.

5. As for why Batista was in the game in the first place, the manager noted that Batista has been very effective against right-handed hitters this year, and the first lefty he was scheduled to face was Espinosa, who has struggled mightily hitting left-handed this year.

6. For the Miller-Rodriguez at-bat, TLR’s reasoning was this: if he went to Motte for Rodriguez, Motte was going to have to face both Nix and Stairs. He preferred to take his chances with Miller-Motte.

I think that covers the bulk of it, but if you have more questions, leave ‘em below and I’ll try to answer them. It’s definitely a difficult situation right now, and I would have gotten Batista out of there sooner. None of this is an attempt to absolve the manager or the pen tonight; both had a rough night. Instead, I just wanted to share some of the thought processes that occurred and the conversation we had after the TV cameras left.

Stat of the day: I addressed a similar stat in my game story, but I wanted to get a little more specific with it. When the Cardinals score 5, 6, 7 or 8 runs this year, they’re 14-11. I know that looks an awful lot like cherry-picking, and maybe it is. But I think it’s a relevant segment. Score more than that, and even a team that struggles at run prevention is going to win pretty much every time — the Cards are 9-0 when they score more than 8. But score between 5-8, and a decent run-prevention team ought to be winning a large majority of those games.

By comparison: the 2010 team was 45-13 when scoring 5, 6, 7, or 8 runs. The 2009 team was 40-10. The 2008 team, which allowed the fourth-most runs in the NL, was 51-6. The ’07 team was 40-10. This year’s team is 14-11. That’s simply too many losses in games where the offense has done enough to win.

Stat of the day, 2: The 2011 Cardinals have lost 19 games in which they led at some point. They had 26 such losses in 2010, 31 in 2009, 39 in 2008, 27 in 2007. The season is, of course, about 42 percent complete.

And with that, and with The Pains of Being Pure At Heart’s “Belong” playing on the speakers, I call it a night.

-M.

14 Comments

if TLR isn’t going to use Franklin in close games, then why’s he taking p roster space?

Matthew: Absolutely terrific info…Keep doing what you do…This is the kind of info the true fan (and occasional media member) love to get access to…

Thanks for the insight and the analysis. I, too, thought Batista looked hittable from the start, and I wondered why we didn’t see Motte or Boggs sooner. As for Miller, I adore the guy, but I’ve seldom seen a lefty specialist with so many creative methods of NOT getting lefties out.

Of course, the seventh inning might still have been in Garcia’s seemingly capable hands—and we might be reading a very different blog post tonight—if the shoddy defense (I’m looking at you, Theriot) hadn’t forced him to throw so many extra pitches in the preceding frames.

Matt, I think fearlessleader’s pointing at an emerging problem/question… has Theriot’s glove been worth his bat? A fan of Brendan Ryan, I understood his situation was untenable with the Cards but I didn’t like the Theriot pick up from the start – fine guy, seemingly good teammate, decent (and periodically clutch) bat but, jeez, the defense, the defense, the defense… 13 errors and limited range, for a shortstop, ouch.

I have felt all year that infield defense, especially Theriot’s, is this team’s most glaring weakness. I just feel like all the extra outs the pitchers are asked to get might very well be what ends up costing this team a playoff berth. This is a very frustrating team to watch at times.

Theriot had little to do with the meet and greet session the Nats had with our bullpen last night. It’s been pretty well established that our defense is lacking, but last night the bullpens implosion was unnerving. A grade for bullpen support needs to happen soon, because Matt Holliday and David Freese can’t help those guys.

In addition to Steve Fender’s comment, I would like to point out that Batista us a terrible pitcher to begin with. It’s clear that he has no clue where the ball is going once he throws it. Every ball hit off of him is either a hard liner or a deep fly ball, and how he has gotten the results he has so far is astounding. It’s nice to see his ERA finally take a hit, so that pedestrian fans who think that stat means a lot will maybe start to realize he is awful. Batista and Franklin are essentially the same pitcher, the only difference being that LaRussa continues to put Batista in high leverage situations. And Miller is just a walk waiting to happen. When’s the last time he actually got his first batter out? This team needs to get over the washed-up veteran love, dump either Franklin or Batista, call up Lynn to to fill the long-man role; dump Miller and get a new LOOGY (anyone would be better.) And whatever you do, don’t trade for Heath Bell or any relievers, we don’t need them. We only need to utilize the men we have, better.

Couldn’t agree with fearlessleader more. Theriot can be clutch at times and the avg certainly outperformes Ryan’s wildest dreams, but the glove, the range, and the arm all leave you with doubts that the Cards can get the job done with this guy at SS.

Theriot had a LOT to do with the 7th inning meltdown, because his fielding troubles in the 6th cost Garcia enough pitches to throw the 7th.

Disappointing game last night and another win for Garcia lost by the bullpen (about 5 on the year now)
Tony needs to learn to not stick with the vets and get Miller, Franklin, and Batista out of the bullpen. Keep Boggs, bring up Lynn, and pick up a lefty.
Also, move Theriot to 2nd Base, pick up a legit shortstops and make Skip a utility player. 2b is is where Theriot has played the most and he clearly does not have the defensive skills to play SS in the bigs.

As much as I love Skip—and oh, do I ever—I tend to agree with Ben. The combination of Theriot and Schumaker in the middle infield is dangerous on a good day and downright destructive on a bad one. Theriot’s offense earns him a place in the lineup (and I like him leading off, not least of all because he takes long, tough at-bats), but his limited range suggests that he ought to be at second, while Skip may be most useful to this team as the Jose Oquendo of the new millennium. (No, I don’t have a better suggestion for SS at the moment…..but as someone who lives in SoCal and follows the Padres, I can safely say: NOT Jason Bartlett.) We keep hearing about the terrific ground-ball rate of our pitchers, but that’s a stat that can quickly turn sour if the infielders aren’t making the plays behind them!

“TLR consistently referred to his options as we discussed the inning — Salas was going to close…”

I agree with lots of what has already been said re: defense, bullpen utilization, etc. I would also like to point out and emphasize that the quote here is precisely the problem with the current prevailing concept of a “closer” and how he is used. Assuming Salas is currently our best reliever, he gets saved for a 9th inning that may or may not matter, and then not used at all. Instead, a lesser pitcher is used, the lead lost, and no more save situation, wasting the best option from the pen and an all-important win.

I’m not going to go off on a saber-rant or anything, but I really feel like that quote is indicative of some poor logic (though, admittedly, not just by the Cards).

Obviously after watching the the blowup last night, im at the opinion something needs to be done in the bull pen. In my opinion, both Babtista and Miller need to go as with Ryan Franklin. They may still have some stuff, but the are not helping us any. Better get that pen lined out soon or it will be to late.

Couldn’t agree with mh more. Salas, the best arm in the pen never entered the game, which is just crazy. That logic doesn’t work at all.

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