How Two Cardinals Slammed the Door in Game 2

Here’s something you might not have known about the Red Sox: they’re good, especially at the hitting part. Over the course of the regular season, they scored 853 runs in 1439 innings, or about 0.6 runs per. Pitchers facing the Red Sox posted a 5.02 ERA, nearly half a run higher than the next-highest mark. As the Red Sox demonstrated in Game 1, they’re capable of scoring runs in a hurry, which, incidentally, is the only thing they do in a hurry, and this is one of the reasons why the Sox are probably the best team in baseball. That statement should hold true no matter how this series ends up.

Much of the talk after Game 2 is focusing on the top of the seventh, when the Cardinals rallied and took advantage of some defensive lapses to establish a two-run lead. In that frame the Cardinals went ahead 4-2; by that score, the Cardinals were triumphant. But a two-run lead against the Red Sox in Fenway is precarious, no matter how it’s achieved. Better to be ahead than behind, of course, but the Cardinals couldn’t have considered their position safe. They still needed to keep the Red Sox off the board, and that’s where Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal came in handy.

The basic numbers themselves tell the story. Between them, Martinez and Rosenthal worked three scoreless innings, allowing a hit while striking out six. Just below the surface, we can observe that there was an error in there, too, but that the hit was basically an infield single. Look in the box score and you get the gist: Martinez and Rosenthal were dominant with the leverage indices glowing. But you’re probably not satisfied just looking at the box score. If you were, you wouldn’t be reading stuff on FanGraphs, and I think it’s worth getting deeper still into the Cardinals’ relief effort behind Michael Wacha.

To get right into it, Martinez handled the seventh with no trouble at all. Jarrod Saltalamacchia started with the rare swinging strikeout at a fastball in the dirt. That was followed by two grounders, and the teams proceeded to the eighth. It was in the eighth and ninth that Martinez and Rosenthal really got interesting. The seventh was over too soon, and minds were still occupied by what had taken place in the upper half to so significantly change the feel.

Martinez got ahead of the first batter in the eighth with a sinker, and the second pitch was a sinker to the other side of the plate, which Jacoby Ellsbury grounded to second. Yet he was able to reach on an error, and that’s when Fenway started considering the idea of a comeback. Shane Victorino walked up, and it hasn’t been long since the last time Victorino did something heroic. Yet, in an instant, Victorino found himself behind 0-and-2, having fouled consecutive low fastballs.

To that point, Martinez had thrown 14 pitches, and 13 of them had been fastballs, including ten in a row. Victorino had reason to expect more heat, and because the count was so lopsided in Martinez’s favor, Victorino might’ve been expecting something off the plate. Maybe a fastball away, or something to change the eye level. If Martinez were to throw a breaking ball, he might try to bounce it, with Yadier Molina behind home plate. The pitch Victorino probably wasn’t expecting was a breaking ball fully in the zone.

MartinezVictorino.gif.opt

Dustin Pedroia was next, and Martinez started him off with a fastball inside the outer edge. Then he came in with a fastball to get a foul, and again Martinez was in front 0-and-2. This time, Pedroia was prepared for the breaking ball over the plate. Martinez threw it again, just like he had to Victorino, but Pedroia pulled the trigger and fouled the pitch off. So Martinez decided to follow that with a low fastball, which Pedroia also fouled off. Through four pitches, Pedroia had seen four pitches easily in the zone, and after consecutive fouls, it would’ve been reasonable for Martinez to try to get Pedroia to expand his zone. Just to try something different.

MartinezPedroia.gif.opt

Martinez stayed in the zone, but this time he threw his breaking ball away, and Pedroia got himself out ahead of it. What that is, really, is a flawless breaking ball, just an example of good pitching beating good hitting, but you always do have to consider the mind games. There are different levels of being prepared for a pitch, and the more prepared a batter is, the greater his chances. From the looks of things, Pedroia didn’t have a chance.

That led to a controversial bit. The next batter was left-handed David Ortiz. Ortiz represented the tying run, and the Cardinals had Randy Choate warm. Statistically, it’s absolutely the right decision to bring in a lefty reliever in that circumstance. Should’ve been Choate. Realistically, should’ve been Kevin Siegrist, so perhaps Mike Matheny overreacted to what happened in Game 1. But he didn’t go to Choate. Unthinkably, Matheny stuck with the righty reliever, and he explained himself in the aftermath:

It’s not an easy decision. Knowing that we have a left?hander up and ready to go. A lot of it has to do with what we see, how the ball is coming out of Carlos’s hands at that time. We have two guys on base, one by an error and another by a ball that made it’s way kinda through the infield. Looked like he had real good life. And if we get through Ortiz, then we have an opportunity to use Carlos’s good life right there against a Napoli, where we don’t have to bring Trevor in more than one.
Not an easy call, but we liked the way Carlos was throwing the ball at that particular time.

I’m not going to say Matheny made the right call. That should’ve been a lefty. I will say it doesn’t not matter how Martinez looked. I will say we’re talking about small changes in percentages, so it’s not like the decision meant everything. Ortiz’s odds of going deep against anyone are low. Anyway, a point: when Ortiz was coming up, Martinez had thrown 16 of his previous 17 pitches in or below the lower half of the zone. Martinez said after the game his whole job was to work down, and he was working down effectively, and that gave Matheny some confidence that he’d stay down against Ortiz, too. And then even if Ortiz reached, Martinez would be in there to pitch to Mike Napoli afterward.

Martinez worked down and Ortiz put the first pitch in play.

martinezortiz

He singled, but he barely singled, and so Martinez was still in there for Napoli. The first pitch was a perfect outer-third fastball. Then Martinez kind of lost his location. The next fastball buzzed Napoli’s tower. The third fastball was elevated and put into play, and it was in a similar location as the pitch Napoli hit for a three-run double in Game 1. But this fastball was faster and a little more inside, and Napoli popped out. That was the end of the Martinez assignment.

And what Rosenthal did was just laughable. I mean, in bullet-point form:

It all took 11 pitches, and the two balls were mighty close. Rosenthal threw nothing but fastballs. The thing that struck me about his performance was how he was able to remain near the edges. Eight of his 11 pitches were within two inches of the nearest strike-zone edge. Another was within three. The first of the two pitches that weren’t as close was an 0-and-2 fastball to Gomes a little away, off the plate. It was the perfect heater in that count. The second of the two pitches that weren’t as close was a 1-and-2 fastball to Nava over the outer third. It was also Rosenthal’s fastest pitch, at 99 miles per hour. Where Nava might’ve expected something off the plate after consecutive called strikes, Rosenthal and Yadier Molina elected to blow him away.

A couple representative .gifs:

RosenthalSaltalamacchia.gif.opt

RosenthalNava.gif.opt

A note of very mild interest: Rosenthal pitched to one righty and two lefties in the inning. Here’s where he stood against the righty:

rosenthal1gomes

Here’s where he stood against the lefties:

rosenthal2saltalamacchia

rosenthal3nava

There’s a shift there, to the first-base side of the rubber, of about seven inches. Presumably, it was a conscious decision. Presumably, it followed some conversations, and Rosenthal presumably feels like the shift gives him better command in the zone against opposite-handed hitters. Better angles to work in and out, and everything. I don’t know how much the shift mattered in the end, because what the Red Sox couldn’t handle was Rosenthal’s raw stuff.

And maybe that’s not surprising. Gomes has always been strikeout-prone against righties. With the Red Sox, Saltalamacchia has swung 43 times at fastballs going at least 97 miles per hour, and 16 times he’s whiffed. He has two singles to show for all those attempts. Meanwhile, with the Sox, Nava has swung 23 times at fastballs going at least 97 miles per hour, and he’s recorded one hit. If Rosenthal ever gave thought to using his other stuff, it wasn’t serious. His fastball was popping and the Sox didn’t know what to do with it.

Part of the story is that the Cardinals opportunistically seized the lead. The rest of the story is that they subsequently refused to give it up, thanks to brilliant relief work from a 22-year-old and a 23-year-old. A fact of the matter is that Martinez probably shouldn’t have been pitching to Ortiz when he did, but there are other facts of the matter, including the fact that Martinez survived, and including the fact that the bullpen didn’t allow a run. Martinez executed against Ortiz. Martinez and Rosenthal executed against everyone. In that way the Cardinals managed to even the series, and going forward the Red Sox can’t count on Martinez or Rosenthal throwing any softer. This flame-throwing stuff is kind of their thing.




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Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.


54 Responses to “How Two Cardinals Slammed the Door in Game 2”

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  1. jg941 says:

    Slamming a door usually happens pretty quickly, and I’d argue that it was three Red Sox that slammed it last night, in a matter of 5 seconds – Gomes, Salty and Breslow.

    Remember, Red Sox likely win Game #2 without those 3 guys in those 5 seconds.

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    • Anon says:

      Take the errors away and the game is still tied with two Cardinal runners on base.

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      • NS says:

        True, but if you include the unregistered error on the transfer by Saltalamacchia allowing Kozma to steal third, that might not be the case.

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        • Jay says:

          Seriously? Saltalamacchia gave up stolen bases this year at a 79% clip. If he makes a perfect transfer and throw there they would have had a chance at Kozma, but he rarely makes a perfect transfer and throw because he’s not good at throwing out runners. There’s no such thing as an error being given to a catcher on an SB attempt if he catches the ball cleanly and doesn’t throw. At any rate, if Salty were any good at throwing out runners the Cardinals don’t run there. Breslow followed it up with a walk anyway.

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        • NS says:

          What was his percentage when throwing out below average base stealers attempting to steal third?

          “There’s no such thing as an error being given to a catcher on an SB attempt if he catches the ball cleanly and doesn’t throw.”

          Regardless of classification, there clearly is such a thing as botching that type of play. How it is scored is irrelevant and so is the fact that Breslow issued a walk after the fact.

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        • Anon says:

          Kozma hardly ever runs, but that is more situation than talent. His base stealing talent is average or slightly above. His baserunning talent is easily above average.

          Saltalamacchia wasn’t perfect on the play, but he rarely is. Expecting better is ignoring his talent level.

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        • NS says:

          He doesn’t need to be perfect on the play. He might not even need to be average on that play to get the out.

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        • Jay says:

          “He might not even need to be average on that play to get the out.”

          Good because he’s not average. He’s well below average. What you saw on that play was a guy with below average base stealing prevention make a below average attempt at preventing a steal. Simple as that.

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      • jg941 says:

        Not just talking about the official “errors” there – you’re letting Gomes, and his pathetic throw home from very-short LF, completely off the hook. That’s an easy out.

        He makes that relatively easy throw, and its 2-1 Sox, and likely stays that way, as it turns out.

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      • Jeffrey says:

        ………and Beltran coming up to hit his second into right….

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    • Willis says:

      You can’t what if/theorize everything…

      Cardinals were aggressive on the bases and it paid off.

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    • crw says:

      Take away the errors from game one ….blah blah blah. Errors are a critical part of the game which is why defensive metrics have become so important. I don’t think you want to go down that road.

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  2. tehzachatak says:

    I know this isn’t the point of this article, but can we talk about Matheny not bringing in a reliever to face Ortiz in the 6th inning? What in hell was he doing? That was utter managerial malpractice, to quote a Cardinals writer on twitter…

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  3. Well-Beered Englishman says:

    Off-topic, as there are no more Daily Notes:

    I finished Bernard Malamud’s novel The Natural last night. Do any other FG readers think this book is shitty, or is it just me?

    Besides the paper-thin characters, tenuous mixture of real and surreal, bogus moral dilemma, and misogyny in the disgusting treatment of the female characters, the book’s just not a good depiction of baseball.

    The players sometimes have complete control over situations in which they find themselves. Roy Hobbs comes up to bat a few times and sees a pitch he knows he can hit out of the park, but he chooses to swing wrong. It’s not presented as Hobbs being arrogant; it’s presented as, he really could hit the home run, just by sheer willpower. Which makes sense, because the evidence offered suggests his batting average is about .450; he considers one hit in a game bad, and has a 14AB hit streak (the real record is 12). At one point he targets a guy in the audience and hits three foul balls in a row straight at him. At another, he gets mad at a pitcher and hits four straight home runs off him to teach a lesson.

    If baseball really worked like that for a “Natural”, you’d get a hit whenever you chose, regardless of whatever the pitcher and defense try to do. I’m not sure defense is even mentioned. This is a world where Babe Ruth can call his shot, no problem.

    I can forgive some things as being more likely in the ’50s than today, like a manager benching a player for two weeks out of spite, or even an outfielder dying while catching a fly ball. But the idea that Hobbs, Fowler, et. al. have control over every outcome is the storytelling version of PEDs. It enables the final bogus moral choice, “Hit a home run or strike out?”, which for a real baseball player is not a decision that can be made on desire alone.

    It makes me sad, because everybody seems to love this book. But the only good thing I can say about it is that there’s an excellent depiction of Jeffrey Loria.

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    • Scooter McFinch says:

      I think you’re right. An instance where the movie is better than the book.

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    • therood says:

      Been a few years since I’ve seen the movie or read the book, but I’ve always read Malamud as allegorical and bordering on magic realism.

      I must now re-read it.

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    • smcn says:

      I don’t think people love the book for its accurate depiction of baseball. I think part of the appeal is that it captures the mythology of the “great slugger” (true, in part through hyperbolic rhetoric) that may have been particularly resonant at that point in American history, when baseball truly was still the national pastime.

      That being said, I didn’t love the book either, mostly for the same reasons you cite in your second paragraph.

      On the other hand, I like the way the book ends, compared to the movie.

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    • I’m with you, WBE. I was less offended by Malamud’s means, and his sketchy knowledge of baseball skills, than his ends. Sure, the American Baseball Mythology is an ample target, but the whole thing felt hollow, cynical. I guess now that I’m old I have little patience for people who tear something down without anything to put in its place.

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      • Well-Beered Englishman says:

        “Cynical” is a good word for it. “Contemptuous” might be a better one. It seemed as though the author felt every character was beneath him, and felt that they all deserved their humbling fates, not because of the decisions they made but because of who they were and because they had the gall to play baseball in the first place.

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        • Eric M. Van says:

          Your sense of the novel’s attitude towards both baseball and its characters is so entirely opposite mine (and, I would argue, any fair reading) that I’m baffled.

          Let’s take the opening sequence. The crazed Harriet Bird is planning to shoot the world-famous Whammer, until the utterly unknown Roy Hobbs strikes him out. She decides to target Roy instead. She even asks him, before pulling the trigger, if he’s “going to be the best there ever was at the game.” Uncomprehending that anyone would want to shoot him for that reason, Roy can only give his honest answer, yes. And it seals his (perhaps literal) fate.

          I don’t think you’re a sociopath devoid of empathy, which is one reason you might think that Malamud was being contemptuous of Hobbs, and suggesting that he deserved to be shot because he had the gall to play baseball (and be so good at it). But I do wonder whether you got the tragic irony that Hobbs’ great moment of success had proven to be his downfall, for no fault of his own, simply because the world can be a cruel and inhospitable place, especially for those gifted, ambitious, and naive. (If you disagree, ask Kurt Cobain what he thinks.)

          This sequence is not about hubris; it’s about arbitrary fate, and it’s also about the very real phenomenon of society consuming its best and brightest. It’s about those people who feel a need to take down and destroy anyone who has the gall to rise above the ordinary, and about Roy’s naive inability to imagine they exist. (Not, mind you, his denial that they exist, when the idea is presented to him, which would make him simply foolish; but his pure-hearted inability to comprehend, until the bullet strikes him, what’s going on.)

          To think that Malamud is on the side of Harriet Bird in this sequence, on the side of cruel fate, and on the side of those who cannot deal with greatness except by trying to destroy it, and against those so pure of heart that they cannot imagine their existence … well, yes, that’s an indefensible reading. And of course, if you are not overwhelmed with sympathy for Roy Hobbs at that moment, the rest of the book is bound to leave you cold.

          It strikes me now that at no point does Malamud tell the reader what to feel, which is one of the reasons I think the book is so brilliant, because it makes the reader do that work. (That’s what actual literature does.) And that if you have a never encountered such an authorial voice, you might well mistake its pointed neutrality (when fate deals you that sort of hand, the world, after all, remains neutral) for cynicism. In fact, its refusal to tell the reader what to feel, for me, is what gives it its enormous power. (That the events are tragic is largely conveyed by the prose style. I’ve probably re-read the final scene between Harriet and Roy twenty or thirty times; it strikes me now that the only scene I’ve re-read more, Eowyn’s slaying of the Witch-King, is in many ways its mirror image.)

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    • Zen Madman says:

      Roy Hobbs is so good at baseball that now Captain America works for him.

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    • Eric M. Van says:

      I wonder how much literature, and especially the literature of the fantastic, is your thing. The Natural is a magic realist novel that happens to be about baseball, rather than a baseball novel … if that makes sense to you. I wouldn’t necessarily expect a baseball fan who was a casual reader to like it.

      I believe I may be (as a World Fantasy Award nominee and professional sabermetrician) one of the people closest to its imaginary ideal reader (for whatever that’s worth). Two others I can think of are Cecilia Tan (BP annual editor, SABR publications director, author, editor, and publisher of acclaimed erotic fantasy and sf) and Rick Wilber (sf author and writing professor, and Del’s son). I’ll have to ask them what they think of the book.

      Personally, it’s one of my ten favorite novels of all time. It’s often hilarious, at other times heartbreaking. It makes absolutely no attempt to portray anything resembling reality. It’s pure myth; complaining that it doesn’t accurately portray baseball is a bit like complaining that The Seventh Seal doesn’t accurately portray Death. It appropriates famous baseball episodes and alleged episodes (Babe Ruth’s hot dog stomach ache, Ted Williams lining fouls at a heckler, and most obviously, Eddie Waitkus) and then adds episodes that never happened, like Roy being told to “knock the cover off the ball” and then literally doing so; it’s trying to not just be larger than life, but one step larger than that. I have never had the sense that it’s *about* baseball. It’s using baseball, in a knowing and loving fashion, for other purposes.

      Regarding the ending (SPOILERS): Roy’s apparent ability to hit home runs nearly at will is essential to it, where he decides to renege on his agreement to throw the Series … and then fails. There’s no great tragedy there unless he is confident of his success. And it’s a hell of a lot more complicated morally than you seem to think. (There is no “bogus moral dilemma” because there is no moral dilemma whatsoever. He had chosen to do an immoral act and now he’s changed his mind.) At the end, he weeps “many bitter tears” over the truth of his fixing the Series, and is unable to deny his culpability, even though he in fact tried, at the last moment, *not* to throw it. You could spend a semester in philosophy class debating how a human being *ought* to feel under those circumstances.

      The movie is very good, maybe great, when taken for itself, but I can’t get past it being (after the first third, which is often brilliant) a travesty as an adaptation.

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  4. Seneca says:

    I still think that Rosenthal could start, that the Cards could realistically go with Wainwright, Miller, Wacha, Rosenthal Martinez in the rotation next year. Lynn or Kelly could be moved for a SS and the train will keep rolling.

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    • tehzachatak says:

      Garcia progressing well toward being able to come back too. Gast and Lyons are also real rotation options, and at least Lyons I think has to be ahead of Rosenthal.

      That gives the Cardinals 8 or 9 starter options without Rosenthal. Motte is also coming back, so I suppose you could plug him into the closer role, but as much as I’d love to see Rosenthal start, I think it’s just mismanaging resources right now…

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      • BMarkham says:

        Lyons ahead of Rosenthal? Lyons ceiling is a 5th starter. Gast had average peripherals in the minors this year.

        Mismanagement of resources is having a beast like Rosenthal relegated to 70 innings a year rather than 200.

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    • Clayton says:

      I agree. Especially with Martinez. His secondary stuff is just so freaking good. Rosenthal’s off speed pitch definitely throws people off but I don’t know if its quite as developed as Martinez’s.

      I think they need to move either Lynn, Kelly, Freese or Jon Jay. Pick up a SS, if need be Carpenter moves to Third, Adams at first Craig in Right, Taveras in Center.

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      • Too Many Uptons says:

        I love Martinez’s body language in that first GIF. It’s like, “who’s next?”

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      • Richard says:

        No, they don’t need to move anyone. Injuries happen. Depth is always good. So is a lights-out bullpen. Especially in the postseason.

        Also, who will the Cards move these guys for? SS is really their only need.
        Do you have any names in mind? And how would they compare with FA options or Greg Garcia?

        Personally, I think they will keep CMart and Rosenthal as setup man and closer next year. The Cards have plenty of good options for the rotation and they don’t have to worry about scraping to 85 wins and a playoff berth. They should be setting up their pitching for another playoff run. Maybe switch their young arms between the rotation and bullpen to keep them well-rested for the playoffs.

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  5. So in other words, the Cardinals have an absurd amount of good pitchers and pitching versatility.

    Don’t see the love for lyons, Mediocre in the minors and pretty blah last year.

    Here is how I would have the staff look:

    Wainwright
    Wacha
    Miller
    Martinez
    Garcia

    Rosenthal
    Motte
    Kelly
    Lynn
    Manness
    Siegrest
    Choate

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    • Sam P says:

      I think in an ideal situation (Motte effective upon return, everyone else relatively healthy), I’d keep Lynn in the rotation, have Motte be the closer, and have Rosenthal/Martinez be multi-inning set up men. This will keep their inning/pitch count down since neither of them has been a full time starter in the majors, but gives some flexibility if you need one of them to make a spot start or take over when Garcia has his annual season ending injury.

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    • CardsfaninChiTown says:

      Almost agree with you about the pitching for next year, but how do you not have Joe Kelly in the rotation, he’s the third pitcher on a WS team? As far as overall options…. Waino, Wacha, Miller, Garcia, Kelly, Martinez, Lynn, Lyons, Gast, Rosenthal, Maness and Whiting are all starting options.

      Assuming Rosenthal stays in the pen, I think the 5 best would be what you suggested, however, the value of Lynn and Kelly would be best used as trade chips for a shortstop or David Price, not in the bullpen.

      With Rosey, Motte, Siegrist, Choate, Manness, Freeman, Butler, Stoppelman, Lyons, Gast, etc all as solid bullpen options, is there even room for them. On that note, I think that a trade almost has to be made this offseason to maximize the value of the team/system. I would personally be more than happy with a trade of Lynn and small pieces for an Alexi Ramierez type if we can’t sign S. Drew or Jhonny Peralta. If we can sign one of them, why can’t we act like “sellers” for once and trade some of the excess of SPers for a SS prospect?

      Also, some of the guys would be much better suited getting an extra day off every once in a while. If everyone stays healthy, what about starting the year with Waino, Wacha, Miller, Garcia and Kelly with CMart starting in triple A in limited action, then starting May 1st he starts off taking a start for Wacha, then next time through rotation one for Miller and so on until it figures itself out by the end of the summer who the top 5 would be, then come next October, they are all fresh and they can use the best guy possible.

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      • Because kelly’s extreme LOB luck is dwarfing the fact his isn’t all that great. There are easily 6-7 better starting options on this team, given health.

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        • But yes, if you can trade him or Lynn, that would be great. Especially since some dumb organization like the mets or Angels will give up too much for them.

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        • Jay says:

          I’m not sure it’s fair to lump together Lynn and Kelly. Lynn is a 26 year old 3 WAR pitcher with 4 years of control remaining. He should have legitimate value in a trade. Edwin Jackson seems like a decent comp for Lynn and he just got $52M from the Cubs.

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  6. triple_r says:

    Am I to assume that the comment on Salty’s “rare” swinging strikeout was made in jest?

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  7. JP says:

    What’s the deal with Gomes hitting and Nava over Drew? Seems like platoon splits were being ignored all over the place.

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  8. MGL says:

    The difference between Martinez and either Choate or Siegrest (Siegrest is better) is huge!

    While the prospect of the next batter, a righty in Napoli, coming to the plate if Ortiz reaches, is part of the equation, it is not nearly enough of an issue to sway the odds.

    Matheny said that it was a “tough decision.” It may have been a tough decision for HIM because he doesn’t know what he is doing (in that situation at least). As decisions go, it was not a tough one at all, where “tough” means that on paper the alternatives yield WE’s that are close. This one was not even close to being close.

    Against Ortiz, Choate or Siegrest are over a full run per 9 innings better than Martinez. That translates to around .025 runs per PA. If the leverage is double in that situation, then it is worth .05 runs or .005 wins. Not a lot, but I consider that to be the low end of “Category 3 mistake.” Category 1 is maybe 1-2% in WE, which hardly every comes up, Category 2 is around 1% which is a BIG mistake. Category 3 is like this one, .5 to 1% in WE. Category 4 is less than .5%. Category 5 is, “We think we know the right answer” but it is so close that you can flip a coin or do what you want.

    Note those percentages though. As I have said many times, these “mistakes” are always small – even the ones that make you cringe. Managerial mistakes, not withstanding the results never “cause” a team to lose (or win). Think about it: Even the worst mistake you can make as a manager generally changes the odds of your team winning or losing no more than 1% or 2% at the absolute most!

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    • Eric M. Van says:

      I was talking about batting-order optimization, and someone countered that it would be marginal and hence meaningless. I reminded him that failing to pinch-hit for a guy with an expected .290 OBP with a guy with a .340 (as in not hitting Bogaerts or Middlebrooks for Drew, although I didn’t have to point that out, it being all too painful at the time) makes us hurl objects at the TV … but turns out to be moot nineteen times out of twenty.

      That winning baseball is the accumulation of myriad such marginal advantages is part of what makes it the world’s greatest game.

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  9. Jay says:

    That slider in the first GIF is one of my favorite pitches of the year. I could watch it for hours.

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  10. CircleChange11 says:

    Martinez and Rosenthal were as dominant last night as any two relievers could reasonably be expected to be against the Red Sox lineup.

    Martinez seemingly was 0-2 on everyone and rarely seemed to feel the need to waste a pitch.

    Rosenthal just came in and said “You and I both know you can’t hit this” … and then proved it.

    Bringing in the loogy didn’t work for the Cards in G1 or the Red Sox in G2.

    Righty or lefty, is there anyone else besides Rosenthal in the StL bullpen that is capable of throwing the ball as well as Martinez did last night? The reactions of the Red Sox hitters seem to indicate “No”.

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    • JeremyR says:

      That’s the hilarious thing – the convention wisdom hasn’t worked in this series.

      Sabermetrics eople seem to think that players are nothing but random number generators. But that’s not the case at all.

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      • BMarkham says:

        “That’s the hilarious thing – the convention wisdom hasn’t worked in this series.”

        Wow, 2 games, big sample size.

        “Sabermetrics eople seem to think that players are nothing but random number generators. But that’s not the case at all.”

        Good job knocking down that strawman.

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  11. No sabermetrician has ever said that psyche and the human condition do not impact baseball. They have only contended that given the amount of sample size available, it is almost impossible to quantify it and know for sure if psyche was involved or just random variation. Nobody thinks it doesn’t play a part.

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  12. David H says:

    Matheny sounds confused. “We have two guys on base, one by an error and another by a ball that made it’s way kinda through the infield.” No, when deciding who to have pitch to Ortize, there was one guy on base; Ortiz is the one who made it kinda through the infield.

    And then, “if we get through Ortiz, then we have an opportunity to use Carlos’s good life right there against a Napoli, where we don’t have to bring Trevor in more than one.” I interpret “get through” and “put out,” so no, if they get through Ortiz, the inning ends and Rosenthal starts the ninth against Napoli.

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  13. jeebs says:

    Would they really go with Motte over Rosenthal as closer next year?

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  14. channelclemente says:

    A ‘strategy’ question…why would anyone work the count and drive a starter’s pitch count up just to get into the Cardinal’s bullpen.

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