So, that was a lovely game to pick for my lone trip to Busch Stadium this year. CC Sabathia certainly looked incredible last night, painting his corners and changing speeds and just looking nasty. I know that people will complain that the Cardinals didn't make him work enough, but I just don't buy that argument. Sabathia was just throwing strikes, and throwing them hard, and throwing them on the corners. Taking pitches against him wold have done little but generate a bunch of 1-2 counts. Now, they generated a bunch of 1-2 counts anyway, but at least they did it trying to put the ball in play. As it was, when Ryan got that hit in the sixth, it felt almost like a home run in the bottom of the ninth or something.
The thing that last night makes me truly question, however, is the wisdom of having Wellemeyer and Looper back to back in the rotation. At least after Wellsie's injury, neither one of those guys really seems able to consistently go for six innings (though Wellemeyer has a two game 6.1 IP streak going, so I guess he can prove me wrong tonight). La Russa kind of saved the bullpen for today by riding Izzy and Jíminez for two innings a piece, but that option won't always be available, and these five inning starts are murder on the bullpen.
If you don't believe me on this, I cite the following: Look at the top five teams in the majors in IP from the rotation, it will be the Angels, Jays, White Sox, Red Sox, and A's. Now, look at the top five in bullpen ERA. The answer will be the Phils, Jays, Dodgers, White Sox, and A's. Three out of the five of the first list are present on the second list. Same thing happens if you look at the bottom five. Some might say that it's park effects--starters in hitters parks get into trouble, and throw fewer innings, while relievers just get shelled in hitters parks. But I'm not completely convinced, especially since the SkyDome isn't exactly pitcher-friendly.
Anyway, I think what I am trying to say here is that I think the best trade we can make to shore up the bullpen is a trade for a starting pitcher. We would remove Looper and his five inning starts from the rotation, which will filter down to the entire bullpen, allowing La Russa to reduce their workload and to establish clearer roles. I have always thought that rotation stability was the key to La Russa's surprising bullpen finds. Perhaps this season to find out whether or not this theory is accurate.