Game 137 Open Thread: September 6, 2007

bullington

maroth

0-0, ---

5-6, 6.79

GAME TIME 1:10 CDT

let's begin with some good news: springfield came back from 2-run deficit to beat tulsa 4-3 in game 1 of the texas league semifinals, the first playoff-game victory in franchise history. allen craig hit the game-tying homer in the 6th; the go-ahead run scored later in the inning on a wild pitch with two outs. pj walters pitches game 2 in the best-of-5 series tonight.

the st louis farm system's other playoff entrant, quad cities, lost 3-0 to beloit in the opener of the best-of-3 midwest league semis. the swing struggled to score runs for the last 3 weeks of the year and dropped their last 7 regular-season games. brandon dickson is the probable starter in tonight's elimination game.

more on both games at Future Redbirds.

back in january, the day after the cardinals signed mark mulder, i surveyed the records of pitchers returning from rotator-cuff surgery. went back and looked at it after mulder's start last night; it was a sobering reminder of how difficult it is to come back from this particular injury. a couple key passages from the post:

aside from clemens, all the guys who resumed pitching less than 11 months after rotator-cuff surgery pitched abysmally for the first 2 to 4 months, at least, post-surgery; those who took longer to come back have what could generously be described as a spotty record. . . . . the odds are strongly against mulder's ever regaining his former level of ability, or even coming close to it; those few pitchers who played a number of years after the surgery (hershiser, hamilton, el duque) came back greatly diminished, although el duque was able to regain his old form for half a year. only clemens has been able to get back to his former level and stay there --- and he was 22 when he had his surgery.

and was roger clemens.

thanks to the miracle of baseball-reference.com, i was able to look up the post-surgical debut for each pitcher on that list. here's the table, augmented by this year's two rotator-cuff returnees:
date of
surgery
age at
surgery
length of
rehab
date of
return
ip h r er bb so hr
scott elarton 9/99 23 7 mos 4/23/00 6 10 7 6 1 3 0
casey fossum 9/03 25 8 mos 5/14/04 5 5 3 3 4 4 1
aaron sele 9/02 32 8 mos 5/9/03 5.2 2 1 1 4 4 1
joey hamilton 9/99 28 11 mos 8/19/00 6 3 0 0 3 6 0
orel hershiser 5/90 31 12 mos 5/29/91 4 9 4 4 3 4 0
mark mulder 9/06 29 12 mos 9/06/07 4 8 6 6 1 1 1
pedro martinez 9/06 34 12 mos 9/03/07 5 5 3 2 3 4 0
tony armas jr 5/03 25 13 mos 6/1/04 5.2 3 2 2 3 7 1
el duque 5/03 37 14 mos 7/11/04 5 5 2 2 3 5 1
ramon martinez 6/98 30 15 mos 9/2/99 3 5 4 3 2 4 1
carlos hernandez 2/03 23 18 mos 8/14/04 6 7 3 3 2 6 1
bret saberhagen 10/95 31 22 mos 8/22/97 4 4 4 4 3 3 0
justin thompson 8/99 26 72 mos 8/18/05 1 2 2 2 0 1 1
dave fleming 10/95 25 n/a n/a -- -- -- -- -- -- --

i also went back to look at some synched video that carlos gomez put together last year, comparing mulder's mechanics of 2004 to those of 2006. to my eye, his delivery last night most closely resembled his 2006 delivery, pre-disabled list; i did not see him exploding toward the plate last night as he did back in 2004. after surpassing 90 mph on most of his pitches in the first inning (both on FSN's gun, and per Gameday), mulder steadily lost velocity as the evening progressed; by the 4th his fastball was in the mid-80s. with that type of stuff, he can only survive with flawless location --- and he can't be expected to have that after a 12-month layoff.

should he be in the rotation? does he give the cardinals their best chance to salvage the 2007 division title? too soon to answer that question after only one start. while last night's results weren't very good, i think it's reasonable to give him another start or two and watch for signs of improvement --- more consistent location, better velocity. if tony/dave carry through on the 6-man rotation idea, mulder's next start would come on september 11 at cincinnati; if they back off from that idea and go w/ 5 starters, he will start september 10 vs the cubs at wrigley --- not the guy i would pick for that assignment.

mike maroth i would not pick for any assignment, or at least not one that involves throwing a baseball. but maybe i'm underestimating the guy; i hope so. losing a key early-september series at home to the pirates is no way to go about winning a division --- not even the nl central.

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