The Schnable Scoop

The Schnable Scoop: Bullpen Trouble Raising Questions for Cardinals

Courtesy of Keith AllisonMatheny talks to the umpire during Cardinals at Orioles game.

As a St. Louis native, I’m a huge Cardinals fan and they’ve had some good years in my life. The 2006 World Series, the 2011 World Series and the run of four straight playoff appearances from 2012-15 are seasons I’ll never forget.

Needless to say, this season is not living up to my expectations.

While the Cardinals just came off a four-game winning streak, this season has been lackluster. The bullpen is falling short and I’m not the biggest fan of manager Mike Matheny.

Matheny can’t manage a bullpen, which is funny because he insists on carrying a 13-man pitching staff. He can’t seem to make up his mind on who he wants to use, and even then, he cycles through the entire pitching roster before finding a good fit.

There was a game where Matheny brought Bud Norris in with the Cardinals up by four, which is a non-save situation. The next night they actually needed him for a save, and he was gassed.

The time when Jordan Hicks pitched three nights in a row and when Matt Bowman pitches it’s pretty much every day. One of these times his arms going to fall off. Unfortunately, these are just a few examples of his mismanagement.

I’ve been to many Cardinals game where they’ve been winning the entire time and fall short at the end due to a relief pitcher’s inability to close out. I don’t blame the pitcher though. I blame Matheny for choosing the wrong pitcher at the wrong time.

It might be time for some new management for the Cardinals. I had high hopes for Matheny after his successful debut season in 2012; following Tony La Russa couldn’t have been easy. But, he’s been riding La Russa’s staff and players, and that era is ending.

Matheny either needs to get his business together or pass the torch to someone who can effectively manage a bullpen.

Pitching isn’t the Cardinals’ only problem, though. Their hitting hasn’t exactly been star quality.

The stats don’t lie. The Cardinals are seeing up ticks in two particular stats: Strikeouts — 25 percent of their at-bats — and runners left on base — averaging 6.7 per game. Neither of those is something to be proud of.

While the Cardinals have a good game every now and then, I can’t help but notice the sheer amount of missed opportunities. Whether it be because of a strikeout, a fly out or just because of poor training courtesy of hitting coach John Mabry. The Cardinals are averaging 4.09 RBI  per game — ranked 19th in the MLB — but are still leaving too many runners on base because they can’t drive them in.

Second baseman Kolten Wong —batting seventh or eighth— and third baseman Matt Carpenter’s — batting second or third — personal struggles haven’t helped.

Wong’s a talented player, and that definitely shows during spring training. But during the regular season, he seems to clench up so much he can’t function.

Still, Wong has all the physical tools to succeed, which makes it so frustrating and unacceptable. I thought his nerves would smooth out when he received a long-term contract, but he still isn’t where I had hoped.

Carpenter got off to a terrible start this season but seems to be on the rise. He’s hit 15 home runs and is currently batting .259 ERA. But he could, and should, be doing so much better.

But you can’t negate his performance in some games. I’d like to remind Phoenix editor-in-chief Henry Redman that Carpenter went five-for-five against the Cleveland Indians on June 26 for a final score of 11-2.

Despite his recent successes, I can’t help but question his ability to perform while he ages. His defense specifically his throwing arm has deteriorated to the point where it’s less than acceptable.  

I miss the glory days. I miss the days of Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina playing together and the team not missing the playoffs.

Some changes need to be made because I don’t know what I’ll do if the Cardinals miss the playoffs for a third consecutive year, while the Cubs go deep again.


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