Results tagged ‘ Blake Hawksworth ’

Wednesday Chess Match: Hawksworth or Boggs?

The situation: Top of the sixth, 0-0 game. 7-8-9 in the Marlins order coming to the plate.


The decision: TLR goes to Blake Hawksworth to pitch the sixth.

The outcome: Hawksworth has a rough outing, allowing two singles, walking the pitcher (who was trying to sacrifice), and then a sacrifice and an RBI single in the sixth, before permitting a pair of homers in the seventh.

The analysis: At this point in the game, TLR understandably wants to go to a pitcher who can get more than a batter or two, and ideally more than an inning. It’s the role that two years ago, Kyle McClellan had — get a close game from the sixth to the eighth — and it can be a very important and valuable role.
The inning started with two right-handed hitters, so the two lefties were both out, and it’s obviously not going to be Ryan Franklin or McClellan at this point in the game. That leaves three options: Hawksworth, Mitchell Boggs and Jason Motte.
Motte has moved up the food chain a bit, and they also like having his strikeout ability to put out fires with runners on base. So to narrow it further, it’s pretty strictly a question of Boggs vs. Hawksworth at this point.
And the thing is, if they do take the lead, there’s a good chance the other one won’t pitch. Ideally, one of the two righties gets you at least into the seventh before you hand off to the guys who get you home.
Hawksworth somewhat irritatedly dismissed the notion that he’s “struggling,” pointing to his 2.35 ERA entering the game, but he’s been much less effective in May than he was in April. Boggs, meanwhile, had been excellent over his previous 11 appearances — 11 2/3 innings, 12 Ks, 5 BB, 3 runs.
And while Hawksworth is nominally the long man on the staff, Boggs has gone 2+ innings as many times (three) as Hawksworth has this year. They were both rested and fully available, as was evidenced when Boggs pitched the final two innings.

The comment: “I’m going inning to inning. Go inning to inning and see how he’s throwing.” — La Russa

My verdict: I understand the idea that every pitcher in the bullpen needs to be able to get big outs, because at some point they’re all going to be asked to. I understand the hesitance to name Hawksworth, or any pitcher, the long man or the mopup man. 
But the results don’t lie, and Hawksworth is having a tough May while Boggs is coming on strong. Those are high-leverage innings, even though it’s the sixth, and you need to go to the guy with the best chance of keeping the tie game intact. From the two viable choices, that guy is Boggs right now.
Moreover, to at least some degree, Hawskworth is on the roster in order to pitch those long innings in ugly games. Somebody has to be that guy. Somebody has to be the pitcher that you don’t mind using for 3-4 innings in a blowout, so that the next day, when it’s a tight game, you can use someone 
As I’ve written in previous editions of this feature, they didn’t lose because of this decision. They lost because they scored two runs, and in some small part because they had to ask for four innings from the relief corps. But it’s definitely my opinion that going to Boggs in the sixth would have increased the chances of winning this game.
-M.

Monday afternoon tidbits: Garcia, Hawksworth, Pujols

Happy Opening Day to all of you. It’s a warm, hazy day in Cincinnati, and it was a treat to walk across the river from my hotel this morning. Great to be back at the ballpark, seeing the familiar faces, feeling the buzz. Everybody is happy to be here today. Life is good.

* I addressed this in a story on the site today, but in case you missed it: Jaime Garcia will start Sunday night against the Brewers, rather than Saturday afternoon. Chris Carpenter will pitch on Saturday on regular rest, instead of with the extra day on Sunday. TLR said it has to do with matchups as the month goes on.
* They would prefer not to use Blake Hawksworth today. Hawksworth pitched on Saturday and is still recuperating from a right groin injury.
* TLR was asked about Pujols’ health this morning, and this was his response: “He’s actually in good health. Back’s a little stiff. Just need to be careful with it.”
Today’s playlist all comes from songs we’ve heard at the park this morning/afternoon:
Pixies, “Here Comes Your Man”
Clash, “Train In Vain”
Breeders, “Cannonball”
Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Higher Ground”
Beatles, “She Loves You”
-M.

Friday tidbits: Catchers, Hawksworth, Ryan, more

Welcome to Target Field. They just had the ceremony to unveil the retired numbers, which was pretty cool. It’s getting close to game time.

Minnesota1.jpg

The weather has cleared, more or less, and it looks like we’re going to get a game in without any pregame delay at least.
On with the tidbits:
* Jason LaRue took batting practice today and said that “absolutely” he could play tonight if he were scheduled to. He’s not, but LaRue sees no reason he won’t be available for the opener.
* Yadier Molina has progressed to soft-toss. He’s not as far along as LaRue, it seems, but it’s my understanding that nothing has really changed one way or the other regarding his potential availability for Opening Day.
* Blake Hawksworth is coming along very well. Hawksworth said he threw a bullpen yesterday and is slated to get into tomorrow’s game.
* TLR has Brendan Ryan in the 2 spot today and likes him there quite a bit. Ryan likes it too. The manager also said he’d be more inclined to put on plays in the 2 spot this year thanks to having Matt Holliday hitting fourth — having the open base for Pujols, in his mind, is much less of a problem with Holliday behind Pujols.
* With that in mind, today’s lineup looks a lot like the Opening Day lineup (except for the DH of course), and TLR acknowledged as much. The top six spots may be just like this for Monday’s game, with Freese seventh and the catcher eighth.

* Allen Craig is switching to uniform number 8.

* TLR acknowledged that he may have to be careful with how he choses to deploy Felipe Lopez during the season, since Lopez is the only backup middle infielder and the only left-handed bat on the bench.

* Extra players on the trip: Fernando Salas, Oneli Perez, Tony Cruz, Bryan Anderson, Donovan Solano, Tyler Henley, Matt Pagnozzi, Rich Rundles

That’ll do it for the baseball, and now it’s time for the music. The Twin Cities are one of the great sources of music anywhere in America, so I’m thinking we can get two full Minnesota playlists out of the weekend here.

Replacements, “Alex Chilton”
Soul Asylum, “Without A Trace”
Husker Du, “Makes No Sense At All”
The Hold Steady, “Southtown Girls”
Bob Dylan, “Leopard-Skin Pillbox Hat”
-M.

Monday Spring Training tidbits: Hawksworth, Molina, plenty more

It was a very busy day for the scribes today, with lots of developments coming out of our morning chat with TLR. Some of it has already been covered here and on the site: Kyle McClellan is moving to the bullpen, which clears the way for Garcia to start. And Chris Carpenter will start Opening Day, with Adam Wainwright starting the home opener seven days later.

We got a lot of rain this morning, but it’s tailed off and we got a game in. Still overcast, with a forecast for clear, slightly cooler days between now and the end of camp.
* Blake Hawksworth has some soreness in his right groin that has bothered him for the past five days. He first felt it when he was pitching on Wednesday against the Orioles. He stayed in that game, and pitched again three days later, but it flared up in that Saturday appearance and he’s currently sidelined.
Still, Hawksworth doesn’t sound too worried. He’s been able to do his cardiovascular exercises, with the only real remaining hurdle being pushing off his right leg when he pitches.
“I was on the elliptical,” he said. “I’m still able to run. I’m not, like, [incapacitated]. We just want to give it a couple of days. I pitched that day and got through it. It was fine. we just want to be careful to make sure it doesn’t become worse.
“Yesterday, not doing anything, I made so much improvement. So just take it light today, and tomorrow hopefully it will be a lot better again.”
Hawksworth was not listed as an available reliever on Monday’s lineup card.
* There’s not really anything new on Yadier Molina, except that he’s a little better every day. TLR did say that he’d be willing to wait all the way up to Opening Day before making a decision on Molina. He said the catcher wouldn’t have to swing a bat until that very day, and he could still be on the roster.
“I think there’s still a real chance [he could play Opening Day],” La Russa said. “That’s what the training staff told me, that there’s still a chance. He’s feeling better.”
The Cardinals will likely take four catchers to Minnesota: Molina, Jason LaRue, Matt Pagnozzi and an emergency/bullpen catcher.
* Ryan Ludwick is back in the lineup today, a day after fouling a ball hard off his left shin.
* The manager was asked this morning whether the remaining bench decision is 3 player for 2 spots, or 2 players for 1 spot. He said it’s 3-for-2, meaning that he does not consider Mather to be safely on the team yet. This isn’t a surprise, and I still consider Mather’s chances excellent.
But publicly, it’s still down to Mather, Allen Craig and Nick Stavinoha for two roster spots.
* TLR acknowledged that there’s a good chance that against many right-handers this year, the middle of the lineup will be ordered like it is today: Holliday fourth, Rasmus fifth, Ludwick sixth. I like that a lot, personally. I think it’s a good way to set it up, with Lopez or Ryan or Lugo in the 2-spot, and Molina/Freese 7th-8th in one order or the other.
* As for McClellan, he was clearly disappointed not to be starting, but also very graceful in his handling of it. 
“The writing has been kind of on the wall the last few days,” he said. “As well as Jaime’s pitched all spring, it’s been pretty obvious that with him on our staff, in our rotation, it’s going to be a very solid rotation. And I can go back to the bullpen and improve on what I’ve done the last two years.”
* General Hal Moore, the central figure in the movie “We Were Soldiers” (and of course the book of similar title on which it was based), made his annual visit to Cardinals camp today. He’s a favorite of TLR’s as well as the players.
And that’s all the baseball for today. Time for the playlist.
The Hold Steady, “Rock Problems”
The Hold Steady, “Hurricane J”
New Pornographers, “The Crash Years”
Drive-By Truckers, “Working This Job”
Gorillaz, “Stylo” (Love. This. Song.)
-M.

Division Series Game 1 tidbits: Schumaker, Rasmus, Ankiel, Boggs, Hawksworth

Greetings from gorgeous Dodger Stadium. It’s an absolutely perfect night at the ballpark, dusk just settling in. Had some fantastic Cuban food for lunch (Versailles, on Venice — highly recommended) and now we’re settling in for a ballgame. Life is good.

* Despite some speculation to the contrary, TLR went with Skip Schumaker at second base and Colby Rasmus in center field tonight against Dodgers lefty Randy Wolf. It’s the team’s best defensive lineup, rather than having Lugo at second base.

Here’s La Russa on the two calls:

“It really came down to Colby or Rick in center. And I think Colby earned the start. Rick’s close. We have a good team, [so] we have a choice to make. And at second, we’ve gone with Lugo a lot against left-handers and I would expect maybe tomorrow [he’ll play]; we’ll see how today goes.  I felt like Schu was a good matchup for Wolf, and Julio has struggled against Wolf. In fact, quite a few of our guys have.”

For what it’s worth, Lugo is 1-for-8 against Wolf and Schumaker is 0-for-3. Rasmus is 3-for-5, which may be the real key to the equation in TLR’s mind. One other thing: I think there’s at least a perception that Wolf is not a lefty-killer in the same way that Kershaw is. However, Wolf has a much bigger split this year than Kershaw, and is absolutely obliterating left-handed hitters.

Still, personally, I like the lineup. I’ve already gone on record saying that in the playoffs, I think the defensive downgrade to Lugo isn’t worth whatever offensive edge you may get against a LHP. We’ll see.

* Also within the outfield mix, of course, is Rick Ankiel. TLR was asked in his pregame news conference today about Ankiel’s pinch-hitting success, and he acknowledged that it factors into his decision making. It’s only 26 plate appearances, but Ankiel is batting .273 with a .385 OBP and .591 SLG as a pinch-hitter this year.

* Mitchell Boggs and Blake Hawksworth secured the last two spots in the Cardinals’ bullpen when the roster was announced today. The manager’s answer when asked about the decisions was, I thought, revealing. He basically indicated that Hawksworth was all but automatic, and Boggs was the one guy who was maybe a close call.

“I don’t know who you would define as the last two,” he said when asked about the decision on the final two roster spots. I think Boggs is probably one of the two, I’m not sure who the other one would be. … And as far as the other one, we really had a tough call.  We’d have had a really tough call to go 11, because Hawksworth has done a good job, McClellan and Motte been part of what we do. So really going to 12 pitchers made us not to have to make a decision on Boggs versus one of the other young guys.”

Tonight’s playlist certainly suits where I am mentally, and I hope all of y’all are too. It’s let’s-get-it-going music. If you think some of it is cheesy, well, sorry.

U2, “Where the Streets Have No Name”
Motley Crue, “Kickstart My Heart”
Metallica, “Enter Sandman”
Rolling Stones, “Start Me Up”
Living Colour, “Cult of Personality”

-M.

Saturday tidbits: Lohse, Boggs, Hawksworth, Wellemeyer, Ryan

* Kyle Lohse was placed on the 15-day disabled list today, and Mitchell Boggs was called up. Boggs is available to pitch in relief as soon as he is needed.

The Cardinals are still not committing to a starter for Lohse’s spot in the rotation, but signs point to Boggs. They remain hesitant to take Blake Hawksworth out of the bullpen.

* Todd Wellemeyer is coming along OK but has not begun throwing off a mound. FSN’s Jim Hayes reports that Wellemeyer will throw off a mound for the first time on Tuesday. TLR said he expects that Wellemeyer will need to go throw somewhere in the Minors before rejoining the big league pitching staff.

* The skipper also expounded a little more on last night’s baserunning hijinks at second. He said the sign from the dugout was “must run” — not exactly a steal, but both runners run as soon as the ball is headed to home plate. There are, he said, all sorts of shades of run signs, including “want you to run,” where the runner has the discretion if it doesn’t look smart, and a green light, where the runner is free to run. But this was “must run” — no discretion involved, except to make sure the pitcher is going to the plate.

Thus, in his mind, there was no doubt that it was Ryan’s mistake.

Tonight’s playlist:
Weezer, “The Good Life”
Jane’s Addiction, “Mountain Song”
Soundgarden, “Pretty Noose”
The Ting Tings, “That’s Not My Name”
Pinback, “Fortress”

-M.

Monday tidbits: Miller, Smoltz, Speier, Rasmus, Hawksworth

By Matthew Leach
MLB.com

To folks reading this on Facebook: if you like this, please come visit my blog at Yourenotagolfer.mlblogs.com, as well as checking out StLCardinals.com. And of course for more Cards stuff, follow me on Twitter, where my handle is MatthewHLeach.

Greetings from Dodger Stadium, which remains one of my favorite places in baseball. It’s a spectacular night out here, clear and a little bit cool.

* Shelby Miller, of course, agreed to terms with the Cardinals today. Jeff Luhnow said there’s a chance he may pitch a few innings with one of the team’s affiliates before the season is out. He’ll be in St. Louis next week, where he’ll throw a bullpen, and they’ll go from there.

* John Smoltz was released by the Red Sox today, and he’s definitely on the Cardinals’ radar. TLR expressed interest in him once again today, and Dave Duncan acknowledged he was an intriguing guy as well — with the caveat that there’s some question about how resilient his arm would be.

Still, quite a few teams are interested in Smoltz, and some likely would be interested in him as a starter. He’s a free agent and can go where he wants — and it’s my understanding that his top two priorities are starting and winning.

* Duncan, however, expressed little enthusiasm for Justin Speier.

* Colby Rasmus is not in tonight’s lineup tonight for a familiar reason. TLR doesn’t like to take a guy who’s just starting to get hot and put him in a situation where he’s likely to get cooled off — a situation like facing a knuckleballer.

* Elsewhere in the lineup, the skipper is basically deciding the No. 2 spot based on the other team’s bullpen. If it’s a team like the Dodgers, with Hong-Chih Kuo and George Sherrill in the bullpen, he’ll split up the two lefties in the order. If it’s a team like the Padres, without a particularly strong lefty presence in the bullpen, he’ll put the two lefties 1-2.

* TLR was asked about giving Blake Hawksworth a start. His response: “We need him in the bullpen more than we need him as a starter. … It would be nice to do that, but that would really make us vulnerable in the bullpen.”

* Dodgers great Don Newcombe dropped by the Cards clubhouse today.

Today’s playlist is all Depeche Mode after last night’s concert at the Hollywood Bowl (and all stuff they played at that show):
“Walking In My Shoes”
“Home”
“Enjoy the Silence”
“Never Let Me Down Again”
“Strangelove”

-M.

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