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shuffling the starters

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thanks to two well-placed (and -timed) open dates, the cardinals won't need a fifth starter again until may 20 against the royals, nearly two full weeks from now; they can rotate the other four guys in the interim, with ev'yone pitching on full rest. like this:

8 v colo
marquis
9 v colo
carp
10 v colo
supp
11 open 12 v ari
mulder
13 v ari
marquis
14 v ari
carp
15 open 16 v nym
supp
17 v nym
mulder
18 v nym
marquis
19 at kc
carp
20 at kc
ponson
21 at kc
supp

i'd go ahead and give ponson the time off, no matter what the docs say about his elbow. of course, this might otherwise have been an opportune time to let mulder skip a couple of starts and rest his back. so happens his next turn falls on the same day anthony reyes is due to pitch. if they'd call anthony up and let him take that turn for st louis instead of memphis, they could get both mulder and ponson some extra rest. voila:

8 v colo
marquis
9 v colo
carp
10 v colo
supp
11 open 12 v ari
reyes
13 v ari
marquis
14 v ari
carp
15 open 16 v nym
supp
17 v nym
ponson
18 v nym
marquis
19 at kc
carp
20 at kc
mulder
21 at kc
supp

ponson would get 10 days off between starts; mulder (the more important pitcher) would get 14; and reyes could get another taste of the bigs -- pitching at home, against a team that's not well equipped to exploit reyes' hr vulnerability (arizona ranks 10th in the league in homers). it's just an option; i doubt the cardinals will take it. and maybe it isn't necessary; maybe mulder's back is coming along. i just figure, why push it when you don't have to? it's not as if you'd be sending travis smith out there as your fill-in starter . . .

reyes pitched well again at memphis yesterday: 6 innings, 5 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts. the second time through the order, he fanned 5 guys in a row -- the 1 through 5 hitters in iowa's lineup. threw 102 pitches on the day, two-thirds uv'm for strikes; got 10 swing-misses. also yielded a solo homer, his 5th gopher ball in 37.1 innings, which extrapolates to 25 hr over 30 starts; not a great total for triple a. but to be fair, let's add that 3 of the 5 homers were solo shots, and the other two came with just 1 man on. fergie jenkins used to give up a lot of solo homers too -- led the league in hr allowed 7 times, and has the 2d highest hr-allowed total of all time -- but he also won 284 games, got a cy young award (and finished top-3 five times), and made the hall of fame. jenkins gave up all those homers because a) he pitched in wrigley for a long time, but more important b) he was willing to challenge hitters when they couldn't inflict that much damage. curt schilling's the same way; he has yielded just shy of 1.00 hr per 9 innings over the course of his career, yet is on the cusp of 200 wins. in 2001, the year schilling sealed his status as a "money pitcher," he gave up a league-leading 37 homers -- but also went 22-6 with a 2.98 era and earned his highest finish (2d) in the cy young polling.

pitchers who throw strikes and know when it's safe to challenge hitters can give up a lot of dingers without getting burned in the loss column. maybe reyes makes a similar calculation -- or can be (ahem) coached to . . . . .

but rather than take this opportunity to bitch about tony/dunc's fumble-fingers with young starting pitchers, let's instead praise them for something they've done exceptionally well the last few seasons: run a bullpen. in each of the last two seasons the cardinals led the league in bullpen era, and they're well on their way to doing it again in 2006 -- currently half a run better than any other relief corps in the nl. yet the current bullpen has just one holdover from 2004 -- isringhausen. they've been getting great mileage out of castoffs (al reyes, flores, eldred, hancock) and rookies (thompson, wainwright). just look at who sopped up the 6 innings yesterday after ponson's departure -- three reclamations (falkenborg hancock and flores) and a 2d-year player. we may mock la duncan's bloated 7-man bullpen and "parade of 1,000 relievers" approach, and we may often disagree vehemently (and at times justifiably) with particular in-game decisions. but on the whole these guys really know what they're doing. how many managers with postseason aspirations would have sent jeff nelson packing in favor of josh hancock and brian falkenborg? tony and dave did it, and so far their judgment is vindicated.