(BaseballStL) -- Well the Cardinals sure got lucky Wednesday night didn’t they? If a veteran like Jake Westbrook wasn’t slated to go the next day and someone such as Carlos Martinez wasn’t slated to pitch in AAA that next day anyway, how on earth would the Cards have survived against the Dodgers once Shelby Miller got hurt?
Michael Blazek - who came in first following Miller - was able to go one inning. If there was no one else available he probably could have gone another. Keith Butler? Maybe two innings at the most. Kevin Seigrist? Possibly a couple. Basically, without Westbrook coming in and chewing up some innings (even though he got rocked for nine runs on 13 hits) the bullpen would have to have been taxed to the fullest extent.
And the next couple days would have been disastrous.
This is why all teams - at all times - have to have long relievers in its bullpen. It’s mandatory. You never know what can happen to your starter on any given day. They could get hit by a line drive and need to come out of the game (like Miller had happen to him) or they could struggle mightily and only be able to go two or three innings before needing to come out.
When that happens, you need to be able to call on someone at a moment’s notice and ask them to chew up several innings. Brad Thompson was the best at that a few years ago. Joe Kelly was the most recent person to handle that role this season. However, given the fact no starter was acquired at the trade deadline and Chris Carpenter will likely not back this season, Kelly has been thrust into the rotation.
There’s just one problem.
The Cardinals never filled Kelly’s long relief role. Their bullpen is stocked full of one inning - two innings max - kind of guys. And you’re taking a gigantic risk in case something happens to one of your starters.
There is plenty of depth at the AAA level. Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez, who will make his first big league start, are more than ready to take a rotation spot if one opens up long term due to injury. To me, Tyler Lyons needs to be here in St. Louis now as the long reliever.
If he had been here instead of, say, Keith Butler then he could have been the one to come in at a moment’s notice and keep the team in the game. They wouldn’t have to take Westbrook a day earlier and ask him to do what he did. Kelly was able to do that earlier this year to perfection.
Someone has to be in that role ready at any moment. The Cardinals didn’t. By doing that they took a huge risk.
And paid for it.