It was a rough game for the Cardinals
last night. The rain delay was not only a pain in the ass, it seemed to completely unhinge Jake Westbrook
, who imploded when he took the mound following the unscheduled intermission.
Side note: can I just say I'm beginning to really hate watching Westbrook pitch? It isn't just his struggles; it's the way
he struggles that makes it so painful to sit through one of his games. Watching a pitcher who is behind in the count to literally 90% of the hitters he faces is just miserable. Hopefully Westy gets on track soon, because I just don't know how many more of his bad starts I can stomach.
Anyhow, nasty night at Wrigley, starting pitcher implodes, offense does fairly well against an immensely talented pitcher but can't dig out of the enormous hole the starter put them in. Just a bad day overall.
And then, of course, there was the appearance of Ryan Franklin, who really put the cherry on the crap sundae that was the Cards' night with his continued poor performance.
It's a little sad to see, but it really does look to my eye as if Ryan Franklin has just lost it. Whatever the 'it' is that makes a pitcher successful, I see absolutely no sign Franklin has any of it left, nor is he anywhere near getting it back.
He threw meatball after meatball up to the plate last night, and was lucky to get through three innings with as little damage as he allowed. He gave up four runs on seven hits, while striking out two. All the runs were earned. The good news -- if you actually have the stomach to dig for good news in such a line -- was the fact Franklin didn't walk a batter. So, his control was better. Unfortunately, his stuff still sucked out loud.
All along through this process Franklin has insisted his stuff is still fine, that he feels great, nothing wrong with his arm at all. Just a matter of executing pitches and not giving up free passes, that's all. Well, I have to think after last night's outing even Franklin himself has to come to the conclusion is seriously wrong with his stuff. You don't watch many outings by a pitcher where he allows more than two hits per inning and better than a run per and think, "Wow, that could have been a whole lot worse," but I feel very confident I wasn't the only one who thought that as he left the game last night.
The real problem right now is that, as much as the Cardinal bullpen needs to get Franklin out of the fold, there isn't an immediate replacement that slots in easily. When Brian Tallet or Bryan Augenstein come back, Franklin needs to hit the DL with some sort of injury to see if he can regain some small measure of his previous form, but until then the Cardinals are stuck with him. So far they've managed to hide him in the very lowest of low-leverage situations, but even with limited responsibility Franklin is causing harm to the team's chances of winning every time he takes the mound.
I think we were all hopeful Franklin could find his form and regain some measure of effectiveness with a relatively brief break from closing games. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be happening; if anything, he's continued downhill as the season has gone on. Drastic times call for drastic measures, and getting Ryan Franklin off this team sooner rather than later is looking more and more like a necessity all the time.