Results tagged ‘ Jeff Suppan ’

Wednesday Chess Match: Sticking with Supp

The situation: Top of the sixth, Cardinals trail, 3-1. Two outs. Pitcher Dan Haren, pinch-hitting for pitcher Barry Enright, draws a two-out walk.
The decision: TLR stays with Suppan to face Stephen Drew and Rusty Ryal.
The outcome: Drew and Ryal both single and Arizona stretches its lead by a run.
The analysis: Suppan had been on a bit of a knife-edge all game long, so it might have been hard to tell when the game was starting to get away from him. But walking a pitcher, even a good-hitting pitcher like Haren, was probably a sign. Suppan’s pitch count at that point was already above what he’d thrown in his previous starts.
Still, the right-hander was one out away from getting out of the inning, and his spot was coming up in the bottom half of the frame. The Cardinals are playing with 13 pitchers, but that (combined with Ryan Ludwick’s nagging calf injury) means they have a very, very short bench.
This of course raises the separate issue of how wise it is to have 13 pitchers when one of your 12 players is injured. But that’s a question for another day.
Anyway, ideally, they would have liked to have squeezed the inning out of Suppan, maybe pinch-hit with a starting pitcher or even hope for a situation where Suppan could bunt in the bottom of the sixth and then go on with the rest of the game. 
The flipside, though, is that Suppan appeared to have been heading in the wrong direction for a little while already at this point. After walking one of the first 20 batters he faced, he had walked two of the last eight, along with a home run and a single. 
One other data point to consider: while Suppan doesn’t have much of a platoon split the past couple of years, Drew does. He’s a feeble hitter against left-handed pitchers, and the Cardinals have two good tactical lefties in their bullpen.
The comment: “Ryal was going to be the last hitter. We were just watching. He got a couple outs there. He had gotten Ryal out before, so we let him have Ryal. He missed him, Boggs gets the next guy.” — TLR
My verdict: I’m pretty sure I would have gone to the lefty for Drew. Suppan is still building up his stamina, and Drew is a completely different hitter against left-handers. 
-M.

Note of the night/Stats of the day, June 15

Note of the night: Slowly, surely, Colby Rasmus is becoming an everyday player. And with good reason. Rasmus has been one of the best offensive players in the National League this year, ranking third in the league in slugging and fifth in OBP.

More specifically though, as of the end of Tuesday’s game, he’s showing virtually no platoon split. Against right-hander, Rasmus has a line of 300/408/600. Against lefties, it’s 289/372/579. That’s a huge development.
He’s started nine games against left-handed starters this year, including the last five for which he was healthy. Given the frustration in some parts of the fan base at Rasmus’ seeming platoon status, this should be received well. And again, the key is that he’s earned it.
“He’s a hitter,” TLR said. “Against all pitching, he plants himself in the strike zone. When you do that, you’re going to hit. I think the more he sees left-handers, [the more he benefits]. Not just because it’s at-bats, but he sees different guys. Each guy is a little different.”
Rasmus feels that the difference from last year, when he hit 160/219/255 against LHP, and this year is subtle but real. 
“I’ve worked with some things on my swing,” he said. “Staying over in there a little more, which I think is helping me stay on those lefties and those breaking balls away. I’m seeing the ball better, not chasing the balls off the plate, just making them come to me. Not missing the pitches. Most of the time I’d be fouling a lot of balls off against lefties and not hitting pitches that I should. Lately I’ve been hitting them.”
That’s often a key that Rasmus points to as a difference between when he’s going well and when he’s not: whether he’s squaring up hittable pitches, or fouling them away. But he also agreed that increased playing time is helping his mindset.
“I guess being in there every day definitely does make a big difference,” he said. “It’s kind of like, if I struggle a little bit I don’t have to worry about being on the bench the next day. Knowing I’ve got a pretty good chance of being in there again. Just the constant grind against them, getting beat up so much, I finally learned how to get ‘em.”
Stat of the day, 1: Rasmus has three home runs in 44 plate appearances against lefties this year. He had three in 115 plate appearances last year.

Stat of the day, 2: This weird and cool note is courtesy of Chris Tunno from Cardinals media relations: Jeff Suppan has a seven-game hitting streak in Interleague Play. For his career, Suppan has hit .317 (13-for-41) in Interleague games.
Fun with double situational splits: In home games in June, Rasmus is 12-for-25 (.480) with five home runs, a .552 on-base percentage and a 1.120 slugging percentage.
And, finally, the playlist:
Feeling like some classics today.
Three Dog Night, “Never Been to Spain”
Bill Withers, “Ain’t No Sunshine”
Chicago, “25 or 6 to 4″
Blood, Sweat and Tears, “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy”
Temptations, “Just My Imagination”
-M.
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