ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- It’s kind of like music chairs, really. As pieces get added back into the fold available spots dry up.
And it’s a battle among the remaining members of the bullpen to make sure they don’t get left without a chair (er, job).
Right this second the Cardinals’ bullpen features 2 lefties (Marc Rzepczysnski and Barret Browning) and 5 righties (Jason Motte, Mitchell Boggs, Fernando Salas, Victor Marte and Trevor Rosenthal).
That combination will change drastically over the next few weeks. Lefty reliever Brian Fuentes could be with the big league club by July 31. Lefty starter Jaime Garcia could return soon after...pushing a current starter into that bullpen mix.
Then there’s this thing called a trade that GM John Mozeliak just might have up his sleeve.
So, let’s examine who’s at risk the most within the current 7-man bullpen. Who’s likely to be on the way out...whether it be to AAA-Memphis or somewhere else?
Let’s begin with the easy one.
Last night’s 5-3 loss to the Dodgers further showed the downward spiral that Victor Marte is currently trending. He comes into the game with a couple runners on base and trying to keep the Redbirds down 3-1. First batter he sees in the 7th? LA’s Mark Ellis rips a double to left to put the game out of reach.
Since May 13th, Marte has a 5.55 ERA and an abysmal .346 opponents batting average. Marte was terrific up until that point (2.57 ERA and a .146 opponents batting average) but he just has not been the same pitcher since. Like most other struggling hurlers, command has been largely to blame.
I would imagine the first reinforcement that arrives for the ‘birds, whether it be Brian Fuentes or someone acquired via trade, Marte could be the first to head out.
After that it’s hard to determine.
Barret Browning hasn’t quite been as good as when he first came up (not that it’s reasonable to expect someone to remain perfect) but his breaking ball to lefties is just filthy.
Fernando Salas, believe it or not, has really improved. The 27-year old entered July with a 6.04 ERA. Since then he’s thrown nearly 10 innings and given up just one run. He’s got a 0.93 ERA during that span (dropping his season number to 4.63) and opponents have hit just .121 off of him.
Trevor Rosenthal’s been very good in his limited exposure as he hasn’t allowed a run just yet. He can run it up into the upper 90s and that’s something you can’t teach. But will the Cards be willing to trust a 22-year old down the stretch of a division race?
Hey, in 2006 some kid named Adam Wainwright did okay...
Don’t forget about Joe Kelly either. If and when Jaime Garcia returns to the mound in August it would make sense for Kelly to get moved to that bullpen conversation. And we all know how good he’s been.
So by the time Fuentes arrives, Garcia comes back and someone probably gets acquired via trade...that’s (quite possibly) 3 names from the current 7-man allotment - plus Kelly - that could find themselves somewhere other than St. Louis.