The Cardinals officially have a problem with the BP, but I don’t think it’s time to panic just yet. Mike Matheny is in a tough position. You can add John Mozeliak to that list as well. One thing that sticks out is that Joe Kelly has only been used twice since April 7th. I’m not sure what to make of that, but I feel that he’s an option that isn’t being used enough. Matheny seems like he’s trying to force Mitchell Boggs right now, and I understand why, but I think it’s time for Boggs and Kelly to switch roles. Give Boggs some low stress situations and see how he responds. I have no idea why the Cardinals and Boggs agreed to have him change his stance from last year, but it’s just not working. Opposing hitters are squaring the ball off him like they know what pitch is coming. His stuff is too good for that to happen.
Because of struggles by BP, the Cardinals have dropped a lot of close games, but it’s not all Boggs. Trevor Rosenthal and Fernando Salas aren’t the same, but they are making progress. I think most fans would think that Salas has an ERA higher than what it is at 4.70. His WHIP is 1.17. Rosenthal has a 4.22 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP, and does have 13 K’s in 10.2 IP.
The Cards are 10-8 but have only played 6 games at home. As a worst case scenario, they’re going to come home 10-11. I know the Nationals will be out for blood because of the way they lost the NLDS to us last year, but I don’t think the Cards get swept with Shelby Miller, Adam Wainwright and Jaime Garcia starting the 3 games. If Garcia has another bad road start, I think you have to give serious consideration in giving spot starts for him on the road in the future. Whatever it is, Jaime just seems to unravel on the road, and compounds it when errors are made behind him by walking guys and leaving balls up in the zone. Many are calling him a mental midget. That’s a bit harsh, but something isn’t right with his road and home splits over the last couple of years.
The Cards have had a brutal schedule to open the year. Beating up on the Cubs and Marlins isn’t something they’ve had a chance to do yet. For those who think the Reds are just going to completely run away with the division, keep in mind the Reds just had 4 games at home with the Marlins and will now have 3 at home with the Cubs. Also, while the Cards have been on the road for all but 6 games, the opposite is true for the Reds, who’ve had just 6 road games.
When I looked at the schedule to start the year, I thought if the Cards could come out of April with a .500 record they would be in good shape. I still feel that way.
Getting back to the BP, the Cardinals do have options. Matheny has to let things play out for a while still, but if the struggles continue, I think we will see some radical changes. I don’t think Mo is going to let 2013 get away without giving a chance to Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez. The Cards don’t want to rush either one, but Mo isn’t going to sit on his hands either. Eric Fornataro may get a call soon, as well as Keith Butler. I don’t think the Cards will trade for help without giving the kids a shot, that’s just not the way it’s going to work from now on. If they do make a trade, you can be sure names like Wacha, Martinez, Kolten Wong and other high upside players won’t be involved.
Going into the Philly series and looking at facing Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Kyle Kendrick, most fans would have been happy for a series split. Because of the way Garcia pitched on the road and because we blew a chance to take 3 of 4 when facing Kendrick in the final game leaves fans with a sour taste though. I understand that and feel the same way.
One thing we know with this group of guys is that they’re resilient. The offense doesn’t ever seem to let a bad game carry over to the next one.
As long as the SP and offense continues to stay a step ahead, the BP will eventually work itself out. Boggs needs to change his stance back to what worked in 2012 and watch a lot of video, and Rosenthal needs to locate his fastball better. As bad as the BP has been, the Cards are still 10-8. I’m not worried yet, but my pulse is starting to skip a beat in close games.
The other thing to note is that Matt Holliday, Allen Craig and David Freese haven’t caught fire yet. The Cardinals are scoring runs by leading the league with RISP. I expect these things to equal out, so again, no worries. Stay calm Cardinal Nation, this is a good to potentially great team going through a rough patch in a few areas.