The St. Louis Cardinals bullpen has been a nightmare for manager Mike Matheny this season. The ‘pen’s 6.08 ERA is the highest in the majors and they have blown 6 saves this month alone. John Mozeliak’s first attempt at fixing the beleaguered bullpen comes in the form of a promotion from Memphis. That’s not a surprise. It’s a smart move to try to fix the issue internally before making a knee-jerk reaction of a trade just 24 games into the season.
What is a little surprising is who they are calling up. Right-handed pitcher Seth Maness. That isn’t the first pitcher I think Cardinals fans expected to see called up this season and certainly isn’t the first name fans probably thought they’d hear in general. That honor would’ve probably been given to outfielder Oscar Taveras.
So who is Seth Maness and why did he get the call over Michael Wacha or John Gast?
Maness was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 11th round of the 2011 MLB Draft. He posted a 10-3 record with a 1.71 ERA and 80 strikeouts in his senior year at East Carolina. The former Pirate hurler ranks first in school history in wins (38), strikeouts (334), starts (61), innings pitched (411.2), hits allowed (429). He posted a 2-1 record with a 1.53 ERA in 53 innings during his first year in the Cardinals organization. In 2012, he spent time at both Class A and AA, finishing the season with a combined record of 14-4 with a 2.97 ERA, 112 strikeouts and just 10 walks in 169.2 innings and was named the organization Minor League Pitcher of the Year for 2012. He was a non-roster invitee to spring training and allowed 3 runs on 8 hits in 7 innings of work before being assigned to AAA. To this point, Maness has a 2-2 record with a 4.32 ERA in four starts this season at Memphis. He will take Marc Rzepczynski’s place in the bullpen and wear #61.
With just four starts in AAA ball under his belt, I don’t think I’m the only one questioning this decision. Especially given the performances by Michael Wacha and Jon Gast this season.
After shining this spring (1-0, 0.00 ERA in 11.2 IP) Michael Wacha is off to a suburb start in Memphis. He is 3-0 with a 1.96 ERA in four games. He has allowed 5 earned runs in 23 innings while striking out 12 and walking 9. Wacha hasn’t pitched since April 23rd, when he threw 7 innings of one-run ball against Iowa.
Gast was also a non-roster invitee to spring camp. He had some control issues and finished the spring with an 0-1 record and 7.50 ERA before being assigned to AAA. He has settled down and has yet to allow a run in the minors this year. At this point he is 3-0 and has struck out 29 while walking 7 in 29.2 innings. Gast picked up his 3rd win yesterday, pitching five scoreless frames in a 1-0 win against Nashville.
John Gast starting yesterday was likely the reason that he didn’t get the call up. Mo’ wanted to give Matheny someone he could use tonight if needed. But with Wacha having not pitched in almost a week, I am left to wonder why he was overlooked. Perhaps Mo’ doesn’t want to rush Wacha, fearing that his confidence could be damaged if he gets beat up after being called up too soon.
Whatever the reason, St. Louis will get its first look at their 2012 Minor League Pitcher of the year sometime over the next few days. It could be a disaster or it could bring some stability to the Cardinals bullpen. Only time will tell if this was the right move.