Last night was Todd Wellemeyer's best start of the year. That's right, you heard me. Four runs, high pitch counts, getting knocked around all over the park. Best start of the year.
Last night, he didn't have any of that.
Don't get me wrong; at the time, I was cursing out ol' Todd, telling anyone near me who would listen that this is the Real Wellemeyer. This is the guy I expected to see all along, and see how angry I am to be right?
A funny thing happened, though, as the game went on. This wasn't the Todd Wellemeyer I expected to see. This was a pitcher who couldn't find his stuff -- and still gave his team a chance. This was a Real Pitcher. Needless to say, I was more than a little bit surprised. I find myself more impressed with Todd Wellemeyer this morning than I have been at any other point this year. It's one thing for a pitcher to go out and succeed when he's got it working. It's something else entirely when a pitcher struggles, but still finds a way to make it work, to keep it together. That's what I saw from Wellemeyer last night, and I can't express how much it impressed me. I think he just may be for real.
A word about the catch that wasn't made in left field: I don't blame Duncan entirely. Izturis had a chance at it; he went back a ways and then just sort of gave up and stopped. Ankiel was coming over, and as the center fielder, he needs to take control of that ball. Still, though, even with plenty of blame to go around, the fact is, Chris Duncan called for a fly ball last night that he couldn't find. He put his hands up, called off the fielders coming toward him, and then let the ball drop ten feet away. Ankiel nearly bailed him out, almost making an acrobatic play when he saw the ball was going to drop, but it was too late.
I respect the heck out of Duncan's bat; he offers a ton of power and impressive on-base skills. But the man has no business trying to play left field on a major league baseball team, at least not regularly. The sooner the Cardinals can find a trading partner in the American League to take Duncan and DH him, the better for all involved. I think his defensive difficulties are actually beginning to carry over and affect his overall confidence, to the point that his offensive production is being hurt. When he first came up, the Cards had to find a way to keep his bat in the lineup, and left field was the only real option. They have better overall options now, and they need to bite the bullet and do the right thing, not only for the team but for Chris himself. He's never going to reach his ceiling as a player as long as he's forced to try and hold down a position he's so ill-suited for.
Wellemeyer was bad last night but still almost made it work.
Duncan needs a new home, for the good of everyone involved.
And by the way, while I'm thinking of it, Bronson Arroyo irritates me. I'm not really sure why, but he does. I just don't like the guy. I didn't like him when he was with Boston, either. Doesn't really have much to do with anything, just felt like getting it off my chest. I feel better now.