Results tagged ‘ Kyle McClellan ’

Monday early Warm-Up tidbits: Craig and McClellan

Good morning all. I hope those of you who got to attend the Baseball Writers’ Dinner last night enjoyed it. I know I did, and it’s definitely one of the things I’ll miss about being around here.

 

A couple of morning tidbits for you:

 

* Allen Craig expressed a lot of optimism about the recovery of his surgically repaired right knee. He’s headed to Florida very soon to begin rehab, and likes the way it’s coming along so far.

“I’m walking around great and doing light strengthening exercises, and it feels really good,” he said. “I feel like I’m on track or maybe a little bit ahead.”

We’ll have a longer story on the site about Craig’s winter and his rehab later today.

 

* Craig said he gave the ball from the last out of the World Series to TLR.

“I heard through the grapevine that he was kind of interested in getting it after the World Series. And then he pulled us into the weight room and told us that he was retiring, so I was like, ‘I’m not going to be the guy that keeps the ball.’ So I gave it to him and I was glad to do it. I had the thrill of catching it. That’s all I need.”

 

* Kyle McClellan didn’t sound like he had a whole lot of feel for how his arm is doing following the difficulties he had at the end of the year. In short, he CAN’T really know just yet, but it’s worth noting that he certainly didn’t sound concerned. What McClellan was dealing with at the end of 2011 was essentially “dead arm,” so until he gets to pitching again, there’s no way to really know.

“I’ve taken a lot of time off and maintained my shoulder exercises but not thrown on purpose, and given myself a lot of time to rest,” he said. “And actually I’ll start throwing today for the first time and get back to where I normally am.”

I didn’t get any real feeling that McClellan thinks it will be an issue at all. He felt it was really a matter of fatigue after a career-high innings load, and I’m inclined to think that makes a lot of sense.

 

* We didn’t get much chance to talk to McClellan about his contract situation — he’s one of two unsigned arbitration-eligible Cardinals — but once again, he didn’t seem all that concerned.

“From what I understand, we still have plenty of time to get that done,” he said.

-M.

McClellan update

Kyle McClellan did indeed turn his ankle in Tuesday night’s win over the Brewers, and he was in fact removed before throwing another pitch. However, McClellan downplayed the condition, and manager Tony La Russa said that McClellan was coming out at that point regardless of what happened with his ankle.

 

“I just rolled it, just like in basketball,” McClellan said. “It was more of a shock than anything. it’s a little tender, but it’s one of those that you’ve just got to walk it off.”

 

La Russa explained that once there was a baserunner in the last inning, McClellan was coming out and Octavio Dotel was coming in to finish off the game. That is borne out by the fact that Dotel was warming up before McClellan twisted his ankle.

 

-M.

Holliday, McClellan DL-bound

John Mozeliak just announced that Matt Holliday and Kyle McClellan will be placed on the DL tomorrow. No word on who will take Holliday’s spot. Lance Lynn will take McClellan’s spot and will pitch tomorrow, with everyone else going back one day.

-M.

Chess Match: One and done

The situation: Cardinals lead, 3-0, going into the ninth. Kyle McClellan is coming on strong, having retired 13 straight, and is at 102 pitches. Prince Fielder, Casey McGehee and Yuniesky Betancourt are the scheduled hitters. Both Eduardo Sanchez and Ryan Franklin had already warmed, and Sanchez in particular was ready.

The decision: McClellan stays in the game for one batter, allows a single to Fielder and is removed for Sanchez.

The analysis: There are three or four potential courses of action here.

* You can go ahead and get McClellan out before the inning even starts, going to Sanchez.

* He could have warmed Trever Miller instead of Franklin, and gone to Miller to get Prince Fielder before going to Sanchez.

* You can stay with McClellan, but give him a little bit longer rope, say one more baserunner, and just get him out before he has the chance to be the losing pitcher. This has often been the TLR way over the years.

* Or you can do what he did — leave McClellan in until there is a baserunner.

Staying with McClellan with a three-run lead seems to be largely about giving him a chance to finish off his own game. Within the clubhouse, that’s a powerful factor. But I’m not sure it maximizes the chances of winning the game. Meanwhile, it also makes it highly likely that you’re going to bring in Sanchez with at least one runner on base. The Cardinals have shown tremendous confidence in Sanchez, but even so, it seems like the best bet for his development is to minimize those situations when possible.

Going to Miller wasn’t really an option by the time the ninth started, because he hadn’t warmed up. And I understand why Franklin was warming alongside Sanchez in the eighth. If the Cardinals get a couple of runs, then you’ve got a perfect low-leverage situation for him to get some work. So Miller wasn’t entirely viable, though I think there was a decent case for getting him in there.

It seems that if you’re really trying to maximize winning the game, rather than playing for McClellan to get the shutout, then you do give him a little longer leash than he got. If you truly believe he’s your best option against Fielder, then isn’t he also your best option against McGehee? McClellan is the better bet to get the groundball than Sanchez. He’s also much less likely to issue a walk, and walks are really the most likely way for this inning to get dangerous — as we all saw.

Going straight to Sanchez, meanwhile, gives your closer-in-training a potentially clean inning. It allows him a little leeway and hopefully allows him to pitch aggressively.

The comment: “We were going to watch the eighth real closely. As you know, in the middle of the eighth inning, Sanchez got up and started playing catch. It looked to me that he was right at the point where he had done enough, and he gets the out, so we let him go back out there.” — TLR.

My verdict: I would have gone straight to Sanchez. I don’t think there was any need to push McClellan, and I think it’s also what’s best for Sanchez. If it was in fact McClellan’s game, I probably would have given him two baserunners rather than one. But if it’s not his game to stick it out a little while, then I think the best move is to get him out before there’s any trouble at all.

-M.

Wednesday Tigertown tidbits

Greetings from a really neat ballpark — Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland. It’s been renovated, but it still has the classic field of an old ballpark. Cool place for a game.

* Chris Carpenter is on a flexible pitch count today. TLR said that if Carpenter is breezing along, he could go north of 60 pitches, maybe even 70. But he also allowed for the possibility that Carpenter might be really amped up and labor a bit, in which case he could come out quite a bit sooner than that.
* Kyle Lohse will start Saturday’s home game against the Marlins, with the starting pitcher for the other half of that split-squad day, at Kissimmee, to be determined. 
* Lance Berkman will hit left-handed against lefty Phil Coke in order to protect his sore left elbow.
* In a bit of a step from yesterday, TLR explicitly said what has been clear for a little while now: the only way that Kyle McClellan is not the fifth starter is if something happens to the relief corps.
Again, this isn’t a surprise. But after he didn’t explicitly acknowledge that yesterday, he did today. 
And now a playlist of road songs:
* Drive-By Truckers, “Where the Devil Don’t Stay”
* Bob Marley, “Waiting In Vain”
* Rolling Stones, “Ventilator Blues”
* Black Crowes, “My Morning Song”
* Audioslave, “I Am the Highway”
-M.

Cardinals spring rotation adjusted

Pitching coach Dave Duncan said Tuesday that the Cardinals’ rotation for the coming days has been altered.

Kyle McClellan, who had been slated to pitch on Thursday against Nationals in Jupiter, will instead be pushed back to Saturday’s home game against the Astros. Brandon Dickson, who had been scheduled to pitch in relief tomorrow, will now start that Thursday home game.
Saturday, of course, was originally Adam Wainwright’s spot. 
The moves make even more abundantly clear that McClellan is the favorite to win the team’s fifth-starter job. Duncan made it no secret that he didn’t want McClellan starting on the same day as Jaime Garcia, because in a couple of weeks they wouldn’t both be able to get all their work on the same day. 
Additionally, the adjustments get Dickson and Lance Lynn off of the same day. The two right-handers are likely the leading candidates to step in if McClellan should falter — or if a reliever were to suffer a significant injury, requiring McClellan to return to his relief role.
-M.

Tuesday camp tidbits: Berkman and B games

* TLR said that Lance Berkman will be held out of pretty much all throwing for a few days to rest his sore elbow. He’s the starting DH today and won’t be back in the outfield for a few days. He also won’t throw in drills.

* For Thursday’s split-squad day, Kyle McClellan will pitch at home against Washington, while Jaime Garcia will start the game against the Mets at Port St. Lucie.
* No starting has been named for the Saturday game at home against the Astros.
* On March 9, the Cardinals and Braves will play a morning “B” game at the Braves complex, at Atlanta’s request.
* TLR had quite a bit of praise for Adron Chambers and Matt Carpenter this morning. Doesn’t mean either is going to make the club, but safe to say they’ve both made a good impression.
* Albert Pujols is out of today’s lineup but will play tomorrow and Thursday, then skip the trip to Kissimmee on Friday.
Today’s playlist:
Tanya Donelly, “World On Fire”
The Hold Steady, “Arms and Hearts”
R.E.M., “New Test Leper”
Aimee Mann, “How Am I Different”
The Jesus and Mary Chain, “Sidewalking”
-M.

McClellan agrees to deal

The Cardinals announced on Saturday that they have agreed to a one-year contract with reliever Kyle McClellan, avoiding arbitration. The club did not disclose McClellan’s salary.
McClellan, 26, is coming off his best year in the Major Leagues. The right-hander posted a 2.27 ERA in 75 1/3 innings, striking out 60 against 23 walks in 68 appearances. He set personal bests in ERA, games finished, strikeouts and WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched). He made $425,000 in 2010 but was due for a raise from that in his first year of arbitration eligibility.
“Obviously avoiding a hearing room was something that we felt was very important,” general manager John Mozeliak said on Saturday. “It was something that over the last week we’ve worked a lot on to try to get to where we are today. I’m pleased that we were able to work this out. Certainly he’s accomplished a lot over the last three years.”
McClellan has established himself as a pivotal part of the Cardinals’ bullpen. After competing for a rotation spot in each of the past two seasons, he will be limited to relief duty only for 2011.
“When you think about how arbitration is defined, length and consistency is always one of the key components,” Mozeliak said. “And I think the one thing you would all agree, that’s something he displayed over the first three years of his career. Really happy for him and his family and I know he’s excited about it as well.”
Mozeliak said that the club and McClellan’s agent had some conversation about the possibility of a multi-year deal, but that those talks didn’t get very far.
The Cardinals have not gone to an arbitration hearing since 1999, when they won their case against left-hander Darren Oliver.
-M.

Notes of the night/Stat of the day, June 13

Note of the night, 1: I touched on this a couple of places already today, including in the game story and on Twitter, but I just find it really interesting.

When Kyle McClellan came into today’s game, I had a bad feeling about it for the Cardinals because I had a perception that McClellan had struggled in tie games. No data to base it on; it just seemed that way.
Well, the amazing thing about following baseball in 2010 is that you can look up just about anything. So I did. And it’s true: McClellan has been strikingly less effective in tie games than in games where the Cardinals are ahead or behind. For his career, entering Sunday, opposing hitters had an OPS of 810 against McClellan in tie games, including a .476 slugging percentage.
With the Cards ahead, McClellan has allowed a 645 OPS and a .328 slugging percentage. With the Cards behind, the numbers are 623 and .296.
So I asked about it. Asked TLR. Asked McClellan. Honestly, I was expecting to be blown off, to have them dismiss it as statistical noise. But they both acknowledged that there might well be something to it.
“I think it’s something to pay attention to,” TLR said. “He’s probably aware of it. That’s how you learn. Maybe you try to do too much. He made a great curveball to Reynolds, and then he threw another one later. He just overthrew, missed a couple balls high, maybe trying too hard.”
Said McClellan: “I think it’s a tough spot to pitch in. especially on the road. they’re trying to lift something. They’re trying to get the ball in the air. … The hitters are in a lot different mode than when they’re behind in the game or when they’re ahead. For me, it’s one of the tougher situations to pitch under. 
“But it doesn’t mean that you come out and expect to give up runs. You come out and attack everybody the same way. I wish I could pick times to give up my runs. You just can’t do it in tie games.”
I honestly don’t know what to make of it. But it’s real, and although I don’t know how to run the regressions, I’d bet that at this point it’s statistically significant. 
Yet it’s a conundrum, because McClellan is at least arguably the best reliever on the team, or at least the best other than Franklin. And he’s also a pitcher who can get more than three outs on a regular basis, which is an extra valuable commodity in a tie game, since you never know how long you could go in extras.
So the Cardinals can’t run away from him in tie games. But it seems they’d at least be wise to try to pick the matchups and situations carefully.
Note of the night, 2: Dennys Reyes is in a slump. There’s no way around it. He’s faced 12 batters this month, and gotten two outs. After the game, Reyes said the main thing he sees on video is that his sinker is not sinking, and it is cutting. So pitches that should be coming in on the hands of lefties are instead running out over the plate.
“I’m leaving my pitches up, up in the zone,” he said. “I’m usually low in the zone. Most of the hits I’ve been getting are on my sinker. My sinker has been coming back. Instead of sinking, they cut a little bit. I’m frustrated about it, because I don’t think I’ve gone through a stretch like this, so bad.”
Reyes hasn’t figured out what’s causing it to happen. That’s the next step.
“I feel really guilty about this game,” he said. “I haven’t been able to get people out. I need to do something about it. I need to do something to fix that and come back and throw strikes in the low part of the zone.
“I’m doing something. I don’t know. That’s the thing that I’ve got to figure out. I’ll start to do something tomorrow. I’ll talk to Dunc about it and see if he can find something to give me.”
Stat of the day: The Cardinals are 15-19 on the road despite having outscored their opponents, 137-130 in road games.
Fun with double situational splits: Matt Holliday is 2-for-17 with runners on base in June.
And, finally, the playlist:
I went to last night’s Arizona State-Arkansas game to see some Cardinals draftees, and I’ll be writing that up in the next day or two. But on the way home XM First Wave was playing the “Saturday Night Safety Dance,” and it was even better than usual. So, five songs from that program:
Duran Duran, “The Wild Boys”
New Order, “Bizarre Love Triangle”
Camouflage, “The Great Commandment”
The Smiths, “I’m So Sorry”
Depeche Mode, “Policy Of Truth”
-M.

Chess Match: Playing for the win

The situation: Runner on first base, no outs, bottom of the ninth inning. Cardinals trail by one. Francisco Cordero pitching and Jon Jay at the plate.


The decision: TLR lets Jay swing away, rather than bunting.

The outcome: Jay hits into a double play, pinch-hitter Ryan Ludwick flies out and the game is over.

The analysis:
For TLR, this came down to a strategic decision, not a tactical one. The question was, whether he should play for one run and the tie, or two runs and the win. He elected to play for the win.
His reasoning was that with P.J. Walters having only pitched four innings and the bullpen having been stretched thin, he was much better off trying to end the game right away. 
Using Ryan Franklin for the eighth and ninth, despite a deficit, was a pretty good indicator that TLR had no interest in using Kyle McClellan or Jason Motte unless he could absolutely avoid it, so it’s clear that he was managing by this philosophy throughout the late innings. 
So the question is whether you buy the philosophy. Because if you agree strategically, then the tactics are sound. If you don’t buy the underlying principle, then you’re going to argue vociferously for a bunt — or at the very least, some kind of motion to avoid the double play.

The comment: “Well, we don’t have the deepest situation, do we? I mean we don’t really have any other pitchers we wanted to use, so we are going to try and win the game. Left-handers are hitting .300 against [Cordero]. Jay was having a heck of a day and he is tough to double. I mean, I don’t even think it’s a tough call.
“I think playing for a tie would be a really dumb idea with what we’ve got. I mean, who’s going to pitch the tenth? If we had tied it in some way, then we would have got Kyle [McClellan] out there or somebody. But I think you have to play for the win.”

My verdict: As you likely know by know, my general strategic bent is in the Earl Weaver vein: pitching, defense and the three-run homer. I hate giving away outs, I hate playing for one run unless the situation absolutely demands it, and I hate giving a pitcher his first out. We’ve been over this ground, probably ad nauseam for some of you.
But at the time, I thought the bunt was really a slam-dunk. You play for the tie at home, and with Ludwick available to pinch-hit, you would seem to have a good chance of getting that runner home. 
Still, the more I think of it, the more I can at least see the strategy. They’re pretty clearly worried about keeping McClellan from being overused. It’s come up a few times this year. And Motte has pitched a great deal lately, so being careful with him one time is not a bad idea either.
They really got into the tight position by getting a total of one inning out of Dennys Reyes and Blake Hawksworth. If Reyes could have gotten through the seventh, and Hawksworth the eighth and maybe more, then it’s less of an issue. But if he was really, truly committed to saving those two relievers — an understandable goal — then it’s a defensible decision.
-M.
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