Well, we all knew it had to happen eventually. Chris Perez finally blew a save, his first bump in the road since being appointed the team's closer (and second blown save in eight opportunities.) It sucks, but it happens.
Of course, the problem here is that it was the team's 29th blown save of the season. I know I've harped on it a lot this year, but with even an average bullpen statistically, the St. Louis Cardinals would almost certainly be leading the wild card race, and breathing right down the Northsiders' necks.
On the other hand, watching the game yesterday, we all got a look at the future of the Cardinals' bullpen. We saw Jason Motte make his major league debut, sandwiched between Kyle McClellan and the aforementioned Mr. Perez. Those three pitchers should be fixtures in the Cardinal bullpen for the next several years, anchoring the back end of games.
Of course, unfortunately, two of the three pitchers in that group didn't do much of a job yesterday, but I'm not particularly concerned about that. All three are young and extremely talented; the success will certainly come.
Perez isn't going to be perfect every time out, and K-Mac is looking more and more to me as if he needs to be, if not shutdown for the year, at least used far more sparingly than he has been to this point.
I mentioned it the other day, and I stand by it; McClellan looks worn down to a nub. We've already got Jaime Garcia having Tommy John surgery and missing next season; the Cards need to do whatever they can to minimize the risk to another one of their prized young pitchers.
I don't know about you, but I was certainly impressed with what Motte did yesterday. He came into a one-run game, with two men on base, facing one of Arizona's most dangerous power hitters, Mark Reynolds. So what does he do? Well, it was tough to see what he did, honesty. But when he was done with it, the radar gun read 98 mph and Reynolds was walking back toward the home dugout.
In the eighth, Motte picked right back up where he had left off, throwing high 90s gas and the D-Back hitters simply couldn't catch up. His secondary pitches look as rough as we've heard; the hit he gave up was on a loopy little slider that just didn't do much. With the kind of velocity and the excellent control that Motte has, though, he'll get away with a whole lot of pitches that other hurlers just can't.
The Cardinals, after years of relying on pitchers whose resumes actually include the word "crafty," are finally beginning to develop young, power arms for the back end of the bullpen, the type that the best bullpens usually seem to be built on. I, for one, welcome our new flame throwing game closing overlords.
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