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No Motte, No Problem?

No Motte, No Problem?

Cardinals’ closer Jason Motte is expected to start the season on the disabled list after he experienced what the team is calling a “mild strain” in his pitching elbow. General Manager John Mozeliak, normally an optimist when it comes to injuries, said that he doesn’t expect Motte to be ready for Opening Day.

Normally the 8th inning man, right-hander Mitchell Boggs will assume the role as closer until Motte is ready to return.

If you take it for face value, this is a crushing blow to the Cardinals. It certainly isn’t a good thing that Motte will be out for a while. After all he did have 42 saves in 2012 with an ERA of 2.75, but what you have to remember is that that the Cardinals have enough talented, young pitchers to make another team. Seriously, their AAA bullpen and rotation may be better than a couple major league teams.

So, the moral of the story is that this is a tough thing to happen, but the Cardinals are 100% capable of dealing with it. The guy taking over for Motte, Mitchell Boggs, has just as good as numbers as Motte does. Boggs finished the 2012 campaign with an ERA of 2.21. A closer is important especially in tight, division games. Motte has had much more success against the NL Central than Boggs has. Both of their stats against the Central are good, but the decisive edge goes to Jason Motte.

Here is how other teams in the division have fared against Motte since he came into the league in 2008:

Reds: .194 batting average when facing Motte.

Brewers: .200

Cubs: .190 avg.

Pirates: .191 avg.

And now Mitchell Boggs versus the Central:

Reds: .209 avg.

Brewers: .314 avg. (ED. NOTE: WOWZA!)

Cubs: .250 avg.

Pirates: .263 avg.

As you can see, division opponents have a much harder time facing Motte. Both Motte and Boggs’ have their biggest troubles facing the Brewers.

Jason Motte had a great season last year, but he had his problems too.  His only pitch for the most part was a fastball. It didn’t hurt him too bad last year because it was one good fastball. But that fastball that hit triple digits also became predictable which led to Motte’s next problem; home runs. For as many saves as he got, he also gave up nine homeruns and had a HR/9 ratio of 1.13, which is especially high for a closer.

Boggs’ primary fault is an obvious one. In 2012 he had zero saves. Zero. Although he did an excellent job as the set-up man, the ninth inning is an entirely different story. Tony LaRussa used to say it all the time; the 27th out is the hardest to get. Boggs should be able to handle the job and the Cardinals are extremely confident that he can as well. But if for some reason he can’t or he gets hurt, the Cardinals still won’t be panicking. Next in line would be hard-throwing prospect Trevor Rosenthal who has had a great spring.

After him would be top pitching prospect Shelby Miller, but if it got to him, Motte would probably be ready to return. Losing your shutdown close is never easy, but the Cardinals can handle it. And they will handle it. Situations like these show you why the phrase, “You can never have enough pitching”, is so spot on. And boy do the Cardinals have enough pitching.


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Zack is a 16 year old writer. He has a mediocre jump shot that has serves him well in gym class. Check out his Cardinals blog: