Glancing at the Fight for the NL Central, Part 3: Bullpens

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St. Louis

STL 3.56 3.43 3.48 .243 .301 1.231 8.62 2.67 3.23 27.%

Jul 9, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Mujica celebrates after defeating the Houston Astros at Busch Stadium. St. Louis defeated Houston 9-5. (Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports)

From the onset of the season, closer Jason Motte has not thrown pitch #1 for the Redbirds this season. Left a gaping hole, too. Trying the now-departed Mitchell Boggs in the role, manager Mike Matheny ultimately presented Edward Mujica with the opportunity.

Has that move ever worked for the better. Boggs did record a pair of saves, but he also blew three save opportunities, experienced skyrocketing walk and hit rates, and lost his overall effectiveness. With Mujica, he’s 26-for-28 in save opportunities, has increased his whiff rate while reducing his walk rate, and was named an NL All-Star.

Mujica has had a little help from his mates: Trevor Rosenthal, Randy Choate, and Seth Maness. “Who?”, you ask.

Well, Rosenthal, who for the last two years was used primarily as a starter within the Cards system, has moved into the role as a primary setup man and has produced positive results. Two things he’s done well: strike out opposing batters (SO/9 of 13.6) and not walked a lot of those same batters (BB/9 of 2.0). That’s a SO/BB rate of 6.80 if you’re keeping score at home.

And who saw what Seth Maness would provide this team? Rosenthal was a highly rated prospect entering this season, but Maness wasn’t even on some radars. The only knock one could make against Maness is his hit H/9 which registers at 10.7. What makes this a little passable is his walk rate is a ridiculously low 1.5.

And if you’re concerned about the lack of experience from those two, there is lefty Randy Choate. The 37-year-old has more than enough to make up for that and he does possess postseason experience as well. Oh, he’s been a solid addition to the Cards pen as well. Choate has posted his lowest walk rate (3.0) since 2009 (2.7) despite a declining whiff rate. His home-away splits are funky though. Get him at Busch III and you have a far greater chance off of him.

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