John Mozeliak has seen enough, and today he finally decided something about it. Mitchell Boggs has been sent down to AAA Memphis to hopefully regain his form, and long coveted Carlos Martinez has received the shocking call up to the majors, bypassing the AAA level in the process. So, what was the straw that finally broke the camel’s back? Unfortunately for Boggs, it was more of what we’ve seen time and time again as of late.
Boggs came into relieve Joe Kelly, who himself was having quite a bit of trouble, in the 7th inning of last night’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers staked to a 4 run lead with runners on 1st and 3rd with 2 outs. Boggs promptly walked the next 2 batters, and suddenly what was once a 6 run lead had dwindled to 3, with the Brewers threatening to do even more damage. Fortunately for Cardinals fans, Mike Matheny didn’t allow Boggs to do any more damage, and Trevor Rosenthal managed to put out the fire by clearly overmatching Martin Maldonado to strike him out to end the inning.
Of course, the obvious question is why was Boggs even in this game in the first place? Perhaps Matheny was simply trying to instill some confidence in Boggs by running him out there in a fairly high leverage situation once again, hoping to see him finally magically return to form while securing the final out in the process. However, if that’s what this is all about then it is half past high time for Mozeliak to intervene, because something is clearly amiss with Boggs, and he needs to work in very low leverage situations until he figures out exactly what that something is.
What Mozeliak has done in response to the first month’s bullpen dumpster fire is actually quite amazing. Carlos Martinez has long been thought of as #1A to Shelby Miller’s #1 as sitting atop the Cardinals organizational pitching prospects food chain when hearing those with minor league knowledge speak of them both. Martinez is a 21 year old that fell in line behind Oscar Taveras, and Shelby Miller, as the #3 organizational prospect heading into this season by Baseball America, Bleacher Report, and MLB.com.
Today’s move is surprising because he was not on the 40 man roster, has never pitched above AA, and missed the entirety of Spring Training with work visa issues. He has only made 3 starts in AA this season, but has posted a 2.31 ERA, while striking out 9, walking 1, and allowing 3 ER on 11 hits, including 1 HR, in 11.2 IP.
What he brings to the parent club is upper 90s heat with a 4 seamer, mid 90s heat with sinking action on the 2 seamer, an above average changeup, and what has been called the best curveball in the minor league system. Clearly, it seems being a starting pitcher may be his ultimate calling with his vast arsenal, but for now, the Cardinals are calling on him to get them outs from the relief role.
Certainly, today’s move could be a pivotal point for the Cardinals pitching staff’s long term future. Mitchell Boggs is going to get a chance to get right in the minors without most of the media and fans attention focused on him. Carlos Martinez is going to get to showcase his talents on the biggest stage, and gain some valuable major league exposure in the process. Perhaps most importantly, the Cardinals fans are going to get to display some positivity towards the bullpen through the hope that the newest addition is going to provide valuable relief instead of the feelings of worry and negativity that have permeated the season’s first month every time Matheny strolls out to the mound to make a change.
It’s a bold stroke indeed, John Mozeliak. Here’s hoping it all works out in the long run.