St. Louis Cardinals: Old Cards Faces in Brand New Places
And then, there was this guy.
Jason Motte was selected as a catcher out of Iona College in the 19th round of the 2003 MLB draft. After Motte hit a combined .191 from 2003-2005 at every level of A ball, the Cardinals decided to see what they could do with his electric arm on the mound.
In 2006, at the age of 24, Motte threw his first professional pitch while playing for Quad Cities of the Midwest League (A-ball). Five short years later, he was closing out the Cardinals’ 11th World Series title.
Motte progressed remarkably fast once he took to the mound. After trying out pitching as a last hope at staying in baseball in 2006, Motte had worked his way up to the big club near the end of 2008.
Motte struggled in 2009 from the very start. When attempting to close out a 4-2 Opening Day lead against the Pirates, Motte gave up four runs to earn a blown save and the loss. After that, Tony LaRussa moved Motte to a middle-innings role for the remainder of the season.
Motte struggled the rest of the way in 2009, posting a 4.76 ERA with a 1.41 WHIP in 56 2/3 innings pitched.
Motte rebounded in 2010, posting a 2.32 ERA over 52 1/3 innings pitched. Down the stretch in 2011, Motte became the Cardinals’ de facto closer, and he truly shined in the Postseason.
Motte picked up five saves in the 2011 playoffs. He allowed just one hit and zero runs scored through the NLDS and NLCS. He finished game 7 of the World Series, and he was at the bottom of that dog pile on the Busch Stadium infield.
In 2012, Motte led the National League in saves when he recorded 42. His 5.06 SO/BB ratio that year was more than a point and a half higher than his career average in that category.
After inking a two-year deal with the Cardinals in January of 2013, Motte started the year on the disabled list with an elbow strain. Motte tried to rehab the injury with little success and he eventually underwent Tommy John surgery in May of 2013.
Motte’s recovery from Tommy John took a full year, and he threw his first pitch of 2014 on May 21. The 32-year-old struggled the rest of the season, posting a 4.68 ERA in just 25 innings pitched.
With the Cardinal closer role long-gone to a man named Trevor Rosenthal, Motte was left off of the St. Louis Postseason roster. After the Cardinals were eliminated in the NLCS, Motte became a free agent.
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In a year pitching with the Cubs, Motte posted a respectable 3.91 ERA in 48 1/3 innings pitched, mostly in a middle relief role. Unfortunately, Motte was left off of the Cubs’ Postseason roster this time around.
On December 8, 2015, the 33-year-old free agent signed a two-year, $10 million deal with the Rockies.
I liked Motte while he was here, and enjoyed watching him throw in a Cardinal uniform. What he did in the 2011 Postseason speaks for itself. I couldn’t even bring myself to dislike him when he pitched against us last year.
I hope he finds success with the Rockies, but I have to say that I have some doubts. First and foremost, he better hope that his fastball velocity stays up. Being a guy that throws pretty much nothing but fastballs in a place like Coors Field just doesn’t sound like a great formula for success.
I think Motte could develop a devastating change up, something similar to the one that Rosenthal throws. I think he is going to have to have something, playing in Denver. The ball just carries way too much in the thin Colorado air.