How long will the Cardinals go with Jason Isringhausen as the closer? That's a question Tony La Russa has to be asking himself. It appears the Cards will be a legitimate contending team this year, but they can't afford to keep giving away games in the late innings. Izzy has 4 blown saves and a loss now. If he were pitching as well as he did last year the Cardinals would be 5 or 6 games ahead of the pack in the Central Division by now.
La Russa has a history of being fiercely loyal to his veterans. Isringhausen has given the Cardinals some great years. He's a team leader. Everybody loves Izzy. It won't be easy for La Russa to take the closers job away from Isringhausen and hand it to somebody else. The Cardinals do have some options though. In fact, nearly every other reliever on the staff is having a terrific year. Kyle McClellan, Ryan Franklin, Ron Villone, Randy Flores; they've all been outstanding. None has been a closer in the major leagues, but how can they prove they can handle the job unless given a chance. Chris Perez appears to be the closer "in waiting". Perez is at AAA Memphis and doing very well. As of May 7th Perez was 0-1, 1.72 era with 10 k's and 8 bb's in 15 2/3rds innings. He throws in the mid-90's and appears to be ready to make the jump to the majors.
It's easy to overreact to a bad loss and complain that the Cardinals have to make a change right now. Certainly Isringhausen deserves the chance to pitch his way out of his funk. If he's healthy there's no reason why he couldn't rebound and pitch effectively the rest of the way. But until he's throwing like the Izzy of old, instead of just an old Izzy, it would seem to make more sense to allow others the chance to close out games. Or pull the trigger and bring up Perez. Chances are the starting pitching won't be as strong as it is now for the entire season. The games the Cardinals have given away in the past few weeks could come back to haunt them.