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PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2008 10:39 pm 
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http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/sports/stories.nsf/cardinals/story/70CD7C4694895DF086257494007E715C?OpenDocument

Izzy returns to closer role
By Joe Strauss
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
07/28/2008

ATLANTA -- The Cardinals will attempt to restore order to their long-scrutinized bullpen by going back to what worked last season and in most of five seasons before that.

The ninth inning again belongs to Jason Isringhausen.

Pitching coach Dave Duncan notified Isringhausen early Monday afternoon that he would regain the role he lost more than two months ago when bruised confidence and a self-inflicted hand wound forced him to the disabled list and out of the role that has netted him 292 career saves.

Several minutes after Duncan approached Isringhausen, manager Tony La Russa called Ryan Franklin into his office to inform Franklin that he would be returning to his former role as Isringhausen’s set-up man.

Isringhausen did not say he was surprised by the move but clearly seemed energized by an escape from middle relief.

"This is what I’ve done for a long time," he said. "Now it’s about me going out and doing it. I don’t want to go too far beyond that, OK?"


Isringhausen’s most recent save came May 5, four days before he landed an open-handed punch to a television in the Miller Park visitors clubhouse. The punch opened a bottle cap-sized wound on the palm of Isringhausen’s pitching hand and contributed to him landing on the disabled list May 13.

Franklin, who never laid claim to the permanent job, said he expected the move after several recent late-inning misadventures.

Franklin allowed the New York Mets’ Fernando Tatis a game-tying home run in Saturday’s 14-inning win two nights after surrendering a game-winning two-run shot to Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun in last Thursday’s 4-3 loss.

"In my head, I knew Izzy’s the closer and I’m just here to fill in until he got ready, which I think he is," Franklin said. "Everybody knows their roles and that’s when I think our bullpen is the best."

Since taking over as de facto closer, Franklin converted 14 of 20 save chances but had taken damage in five of his last nine appearances. Since July 5, he has allowed 20 hits and 10 earned runs in 11 2/3 innings while converting three of five save chances and suffering two losses. Five of the 20 hits have gone for home runs. Franklin surrendered only three home runs in his first 38 1/3 innings this season.

Isringhausen, 35, made two scoreless appearances in New York. He has converted 11 of 18 save chances this season but appeared more in command since exiting the disabled list June 14. Isringhausen has allowed eight earned runs in 19 innings covering 16 appearances since returning. His overall ERA has dropped from 8.00 to 5.84.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2008 10:44 pm 
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Someone said in flashchat over at RBN that maybe TLR was just trying to define roles in order to keep their minds on the game and not wondering what their roles are. Sounds like a good explanation. I don't know.

However, we need to make some kind of deal or give Perez a try. He couldn't do worse.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 29, 2008 7:19 am 
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Could we actually start blowing MORE saves than the last 2 months?

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 29, 2008 7:41 am 
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At this point, it certainly can't hurt.

And speaking of closers... Bernie Miklasz was on 1380 this morning saying the Cardinals should trade Perez because they're doing the same thing with him that they did with Reyes. He comes up with good stuff that gets the job done and then after working with Duncan to pitch 'The Duncan Way', he becomes a shell of himself.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 29, 2008 7:50 am 
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OS wrote:
At this point, it certainly can't hurt.

And speaking of closers... Bernie Miklasz was on 1380 this morning saying the Cardinals should trade Perez because they're doing the same thing with him that they did with Reyes. He comes up with good stuff that gets the job done and then after working with Duncan to pitch 'The Duncan Way', he becomes a shell of himself.


It's really a miracle that a team with Duncan pitching ever got to 2 world series and won 1 of them...

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 29, 2008 9:03 am 
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OS wrote:
At this point, it certainly can't hurt.

And speaking of closers... Bernie Miklasz was on 1380 this morning saying the Cardinals should trade Perez because they're doing the same thing with him that they did with Reyes. He comes up with good stuff that gets the job done and then after working with Duncan to pitch 'The Duncan Way', he becomes a shell of himself.


This isn't really true. Perez only problem is working a 2nd inning. Every time, except once I can remember, he's been solid when pitching only one inning. This has remained true at AAA as well.

These are Perez numbers from 4 of his last 5 outings: 4IP, 2H, 2BB, 9K, and 1 SV. - Note only 4 IP in 4 games. That other outing (which is sandwiched between the 3rd and 5th), they let him go a 2nd inning. The first inning of that outing he gave up a solo HR, then got 3 Ks. In that 2nd inning he completely imploded. No outs, 3 hits and 4 runs. So essentially, Perez is purely a 1 inning guy. This isn't that surprising since all he's done from high school until now is close - which almost always only needs 1 inning. As long as Perez is pitching one inning, he's shutting down opponents. (He closed last night due to Memphis running out of pitchers since everyone was getting shelled).

All the Cardinals are trying to get Perez to do is improve his slider so he isn't just throwing fastballs all the time. A one pitch closer isn't going to be effective at the ML level. Working on that at AAA is smart. So the only issue now - is can they keep a closer on the roster who only pitches 1 inning - period.

Aside - on the Izzy/Franklin defining roles thing - Joe Strauss mentioned that in an article on Sunday after an interview with TLR. He and Duncan were both concerned that Franklin and Izzy were staying focused on pitching, because their roles weren't clearly defined. Naming Izzy the closer eliminates that issue. I'm still not convinced it's going to work, because it looks to me like Izzy's curveball is gone and without it - he isn't good.

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Last edited by theohall on Tue Jul 29, 2008 9:16 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 29, 2008 9:12 am 
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It's way to early to blame Duncan for the falter of Perez. He was only here for 2+ months. I wouldn't trade him yet.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 29, 2008 4:52 pm 
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Izzy as the closer is really a desperate move. Without some dramatic changes (Carp and Wainwright pitch from day one at their peak, for example) this team can't continue to compete with much more talented teams.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 29, 2008 10:24 pm 
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I heard Bernie on 1380 this morning too.
Miklasz made some great points.
With how horrible the closer situation has been lately, Perez should have been brought up and at least been given a shot at closing. The fact that he wasn't, says that Duncan and LaRussa aren't going to put him in that role until he has put in enough time in middle relief....which would be fine, if the closer role wasn't currently in such disarray. But since they haven't given Perez a shot at closing lately, they never will...or at least not this year.

Duncan preaches "keep the ball down...pitch to contact...get the ground ball". He isn't interested in guys being strikeout pitchers. Which is ok, except late in the game. You'd think they'd want their closer to be a strikeout guy, especially if he comes into the game with runners on base. That's when a strikeout or two is usually the best possible outcome.
Their late-inning philosophy in not wanting guys to pitch for the strikeout, is annoying and seems stubborn when you have a guy in Perez who is a guy who can throw 97-98mph and is a strikeout pitcher.

And now it looks like Wainright will get the closer job if Izzy falters. Which is ok, especially with Wainright coming off his injury...but still. If Wainright can start and be effective, he should be starting.

If it were me...I'd have given Perez a shot at closing games and let him be a one-inning-guy-only for a couple weeks to see how he did. He can't be any worse than what we've been trotting out there game after game lately. Don't screw with his head and turn him into Reyes...let him fire it in there and try and strike guys out. Maybe it's just me, but every once in a while it might be best to just let guys pitch and not screw with their heads too much. Let them do what they do best and what got them to the majors, instead of trying to change their approach when they get here.

The Wild Card is there for the taking, if the Cardinals really want it. And to tell you the truth, I just don't see the Cubs holding on to win the division. We'll see how it goes.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 29, 2008 11:06 pm 
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The advantages Wainwright had over Perez.

Wainwright had a good fastball, slider, curve and changeup when he came to the Cardinals. His strength was a wicked curveball which he used as an outstanding strikeout pitch when he closed in the '06 season. That curveball and the fact he had such good command of the other pitches were why he was projected as a potential ace starter. At the same time - he wasn't just a "pitch to contact" pitcher and wasn't when used in a relief role.

So - this kind of throws out the Duncan wants closers to "pitch to contact" argument. They just want Perez to have a better slider and thus have more than the fastball as an out pitch. Reading the reports from Memphis - Perez has been throwing more sliders and they have been getting better. A great fastball and a good slider will totally screw with hitters and enhance opportunities for Ks.

My guess - TLR and Duncan are going to give Izzy one more shot at being THE closer and if it doesn't work - Perez is going to get the nod - although that may not happen until the rosters expand. The only reason to send Perez back down was to improve him as a closer by improving a second out pitch - not as a MR/Setup guy. When Perez comes back, he's closing. With Izzy gone after this season, Perez is the best option for next season barring acquiring a closer via FA.

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