After blowing four saves in five chances, Ryan Franklin lost hold of his closer’s job for the Cardinals over the weekend. In his first crack at redeeming himself yesterday, the veteran right-hander allowed a solo homer (to Laynce Nix!) in two innings of work against the Nationals, coming into the 7th inning of game when St. Louis trailed by two. Clearly, he’s got a long way to go before reclaiming his job. But what about the guy that replaced him?
After a few days of speculation, Tony LaRussa confirmed to us that Mitchell Boggs is first in line for saves during Franklin’s (possibly permanent) hiatus. The 27-year-old right-hander was brought in to protect a two-run lead in game two of yesterday’s double header, allowing a single to Ian Desmond in an otherwise perfect frame. He needed just 15 pitches to record a strikeout, a ground out, the single, and an infield pop-up. On the season, Boggs has struck out 13 of 38 batters he’s faced (34.2%), walking three and allowing just four hits. Obviously a job well done, but there are underlying concerns.
A fastball (both four- and two-seamers) and slider guy, that scouting report has following Boggs basically his entire career. Baseball America said he could remain a starter “if he can improve his changeup and command” in their 2009 Prospect Handbook, the last time Boggs appeared in the annual. He hasn’t, so to the bullpen he’s since gone. Without that third pitch, a changeup or splitter to whatever, left-handed batters have enjoyed far too much success against him. Here’s the career splits…
vs. RHB: 105 IP, 431 BF, .232 AVG (.292 BABIP), 7.71 K/9, 3.34 BB/9, 0.43 HR/9, 3.37 FIP, 3.70 xFIP
vs. LHB: 64.1 IP, 324 BF, .319 AVG (.339 BABIP), 4.76 K/9, 6.16 BB/9, 1.26 HR/9, 6.10 FIP, 5.84 xFIP
I took the liberty of removing intentional walks from the walk rates, I hate those things. Those sizable splits existed in the minors as well, though not to that extreme. As Hahmann said earlier in the week, Boggs isn’t a perfect solution for the Cardinals’ ninth inning woes, but he’s the team’s best option at the moment. As long as he’s getting saves, he’s worth a spot on your fantasy team. Boggs is owned in 35% of Yahoo! leagues and 11.4% of ESPN leagues, so hurry out and grab him if he’s still available in yours.