Is There Hope For The St. Louis Cardinals Bullpen?

June 27, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Sam Freeman (left) is taken out of the game by manager Mike Matheny (right) during the seventh inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

When Joe Kelly was lifted from tonight's game, the rookie starter left in line for a pitching "win" with the Cardinals up 3-2. However, the bullpen was unable to hold onto that smallest of leads. Fernando Salas allowed the game-tying homer to light-hitting veteran catcher John Buck. He was then pulled in favor of rookie lefty Sam Freeman who promptly gave up a fall-behind homer to Logan Morrison. Victor Marte also allowed a run, but it might have been two or more had Matt Holliday and Rafael Furcal not executing a textbook relay throw to cut down a runner at the plate.

The bullpen seems to be emerging as a legitimate problem for this team. Here's a look at how they compare to the MLB average for relievers.

2012

K/9

BB/9

HR/FB

ERA

FIP

xFIP

MLB RP AVG.

8.28

3.52

10.4%

3.65

3.81

3.89

Cardinals RP

7.56

3.65

12.6%

4.37

4.27

4.08

The Cardinals relievers as a group have struck out fewer batters per nine innings pitched than the MLB average, walked slightly more per nine, and are allowing more homers than average. This is why their xFIP is closest to the league average (though still high) than either their collective ERA or FIP.

Here is a look at the current group of individual relievers:

Pitcher

K/9

BB/9

HR/FB

ERA

FIP

xFIP

Motte

8.83

3.12

15.2%

3.38

4.09

3.59

Boggs

7.15

2.38

8.0%

2.12

3.20

3.49

Rzepczynski

6.23

2.77

21.3%

5.19

5.09

3.48

Salas

9.99

4.81

8.0%

5.55

3.51

3.92

Sanchez

8.36

8.36

6.7%

5.79

5.12

5.74

Marte

7.86

3.15

10.0%

3.67

3.66

3.79

Freeman

7.36

4.91

18.2%

6.55

5.69

4.77

How much do you believe in DIPS? Sanchez and Freeman have been horrendous by ERA, FIP, and xFIP. Other than those two the relievers seem fit to regress to their xFIP. Of course, with reliever volatility, this is not guaranteed and with the club in the midst of what is shaping up to be a tight pennant race, John Mozeliak and the organization may not have the patience to wait.

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