On May 14, the St. Louis Cardinals sent Seth Maness to the Memphis Redbirds (and then to the disabled list) and promoted Dean Kiekhefer. Now, five days later, and in light of other internet opinions, is it time to designate him for assignment?
At the conclusion of the 2015 season, the St. Louis Cardinals released their LOOGY specialist, Randy Choate, to the joy of this writer and many others. In his absence this season, the Cardinals have survived but have been without a true lefty specialist in the pen.
In coincidental news, the Cardinals’ frustrating pen arm, Seth Maness, who was immensely mired in a pitiful season, was demoted to Memphis on May 14 and then assigned to the disabled list. Enter a spot on the major league roster and enter the opportunity for the Cardinals to try-out their supposed LOOGY replacement, Dean Kiekhefer.
So, why suggest to DFA him only five days into his major league assignment? I first read Tyler Brandt’s post over at our sister site, Cardsblog, shortly after it was posted on May 15. In this post, Tyler indicates that- to him- Kiekhefer, while good, is a lacking pitcher since he doesn’t strike out batters and since this doesn’t seem to be his forte.
Furthermore, Tyler threatened/predicted that Kiekhefer would likely get rocked by major league batters. This prediction stood in direct conflict with Kiekhefer’s 1.35 ERA and nine Ks across a mere 13.1 innings pitched with Memphis this season. Following Tyler’s logic, then, we should be thinking DFA from the gate.
Fast-forward five days into Kiekhefer’s tenure with the Cardinals and let’s review his numbers:
Do these numbers indicate the need to ship off? An argument might be made if we look at Maness’ numbers:
While comparing these two twenty-seven year old pitchers, it is clear that Maness needed some relief but do the numbers presented by Kiekhefer in his small sample size indicate the bold statement as the headline of this article?
I now admit that I completely disagree with any indication that Kiekhefer should be DFA’d. I feel that, even with the small sample size, that Kiekhefer has a long future with the Cardinals. Is this as the heir apparent to the LOOGY role? Maybe. Should he be the only lefty in the pen? No way as that would eliminate Tyler Lyons from the pen.
For this supposed strike-out-lacking-pitcher, Kiekhefer has K’d five batters in his brief 3.2 innings. While this might regress as additional video is captured for other teams to learn his mannerisms, his minor league numbers indicate that it just might not regress:
|162 Game Avg.||0||0||2.45||68||0||84||45||23||23||23||0||113||0.545|
I selected only the current and previous seasons in the table above. To me, these numbers indicate that Maness should stay and be allowed time to flourish. Will he?
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With the return of players like Jhonny Peralta and perhaps even Alexander Reyes, Kiekhefer might return at that time to Memphis to continue his development since he has spent only one full season at the AAA-level. In the meantime, however, let us all enjoy him with the Cardinals.
With all due respect to Tyler Brandt, I cannot agree that Kiekhefer was the wrong choice for the call up. While I might have been in favor of calling up Greg Garcia, this move would have flooded an already full infield and calling up an outfielder would have yielded similar results.
In light of this, Kiekhefer was the right choice. Now, in light of his small sample size performance, Kiekhefer has made purchase of additional time to grow his performance sample.
On a personal note, I have finally climbed back on the saddle of this horse called writing after some time away to deal with work issues. I should have some very exciting elements in the coming days especially in light of the renaissance and return of Alexander Reyes to action. Memphis seems poised to become a very interesting baseball town very soon!