One down, thirty-something to go.
He looked wonderful—he pitched wonderfully. His arm held up. There's not a lot more to say about Carp's performance because it was so typical, so like his performances back when every pitch didn't end in a curtain call and a sigh of relief, that the sheer fact of it is enough. After the hittability problems the Cardinals pitchers have had over the last few days the balls just seemed to fall differently off of hitters' bats against Carpenter, didn't they?
He's 34 years old. His pitching arm could fall off at any moment. I don't know what's going to happen, whether he's going to stay this effective or stay in the rotation or what, but for now: one down. There were times last year when I doubted he'd get this far.
Now, if you don't mind, I'd like to look that gift horse all the way in the mouth and talk a little about Dennys Reyes. You'll remember, back when the Cardinals first decided to go to Dennys, that I offered the conditional, safe thumbs-up for which I plan on becoming famous:
When Reyes was released by the Padres that July he'd made 344 appearances and was pushing thirty. In every year but two he'd shown a pronounced inability to retire right-handed batters, but it took until 2006, a year he began in the minor leagues, for somebody to limit his exposure to them. In 2006 he faced just two more righties than lefties; in 2007, twenty more left-handers; in 2008, fourteen.
If that's the Dennys Reyes the Cardinals want, they wisely looked past his early wanderings to determine that they could have him.
So far Reyes—there are almost too many great Denny's nicknames to exclusively use one, and I, personally, always get the Super BIrd, so I hesitate to choose just one—has faced three lefties, two righties, and a switch-hitter, which is alright. But the point of this line of reasoning, obviously, is that Heartland Scramble was brought in to face Nate McLouth (good) and then Ryan Doumit and Craig Monroe (???) with an enormous morale game on the line.
In general, I think La Russa is going to do an excellent job manipulating his suddenly useful lefties. And I like that he's not committed to one ninth inning pitcher. But if you're going to carry situational pitchers, you might as well not be committed to one ninth inning pitcher at a time, either.
Dennys Reyes is not, as Dan'n'Al are already fond of saying, a versatile reliever. As is so often true at the margins in baseball, where players become associated with things they can't really do because what they can do isn't interesting, he is the exact opposite of that. He's not quite Mike Myers, but he shouldn't face a righty with the game on the line unless the other pitchers in the bullpen are, or are on fire.
Okay: La Russa's an idiosyncratic guy, and while Doumit and Monroe both had the pop to make that a very miserable afternoon, they aren't murderer's row. Keeping The Diner in there, now that it's worked, makes the bullpen seem steadier than it would if La Russa had gone to Motte or McClellan with one out. But whether that was worth the risk or not is an open question.
I have to be brief this morning—I've got five more pages to write today to stay on research paper schedule. Tonight: our first look at new, improved Joel Pineiro. I predict fewer standing ovations.