In his recent blog over at ESPN’s Sweet Spot, David Schoenfield pointed out that if the playoffs were to begin today, seven of the ten teams involved all have Top 10 bullpens–with the St. Louis Cardinals leading the way with their 2.21 ERA.
“It’s certainly not a surprise that bullpens are as important, or more important than ever before,” said Schoenfield, during a conversation on The Brian Stull Show last night. “The Cardinals and the Orioles–the point was kind of like nobody’s really talking, at least nationally, about how good those two bullpens are, but neither team has blown a lead in the 9th inning all season.”
While many were hoping for a big bat at the trade deadline, the acquisitions of Steve Cishek and Jonathan Broxton received a favorable review from Schoenfield.
“Under the radar acquisitions,” he pointed out. “Especially, I had been hearing from Cardinals fans lately that Mike Matheny was really turning through that bullpen–using a lot of guys quite often on consecutive days or three days in a row.
“I think picking up that depth with that two guys was very important. Part of the reason they’ve been ahead so often, they’ve had to use their best relievers quite a bit all season. I like those pickups. I get it, you want the big name–the big bat, but those guys are certainly going to help St. Louis down the stretch.”
While the bullpen has been key for St. Louis this season, overcoming the injuries to the rotation (Wainwright), first base (Adams), and in left field (Holliday) are just couple of other reasons that Schoenfield believes the Cardinals stand out–even from a team like the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“We just posted a headline news story here with the Dodgers payroll almost at $300 million now with some of the deals they made at the trade deadline,” he said. “They’ve had some injuries on the pitching staff–they’ve used 31 different pitchers, which is incredible. But I don’t know, if you’re giving $300 million out to players shouldn’t you have a good bullpen? Outside of their closer, Kenley Jansen, it’s been terrible. So, I give it to the Cardinals. You lose one of the Top 5 pitchers in baseball and you’re having a historic season from your rotation, so credit to the Cardinals there.”
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