I'll say this for Tony La Russa: There is no bigger and more daring reverse jinx than starting Todd Wellemeyer, let alone doing it in the middle of the first Cardinals losing streak since the end of the Ron Gant era. This may not have been the way he anticipated fulfilling the reverse jinx, although once you're through the Wellemeyer looking glass it's hard to say what's gamesmanship and what isn't; but it was good to see the Cardinals win a game that was beginning to look like the Braves series redux.
Meanwhile, it's hard being Todd Wellemeyer. What's there to say, but to trot out the Ryan Franklin quote once more?
"... other than that, I felt awesome."
Oh. Oh, well, uh, alright.
Wellemeyer is—or would be, if we didn't have so much experience watching him, at this point—an easy pitcher to declare fixed while observing him pitch to pitch. His stuff, as he promised earlier, was a return to form, the fastball peaking around 95 and the slider looking nice and differentiated, and there were brief stretches when he would put together seven or eight of those good pitches in a row. Wellemeyer doesn't seem like the type for self-deception, so I'd bet he really does see this game as a positive sign, and since his season's basically over I guess he should; there's never been an interview where Wellemeyer didn't lead off worrying about (or boastful of) his velocity and stuff, and, well, for once in the season it's intact, colonel. But now what?
The warning signs were there the entire game, and it was rough to see La Russa leave him in past his expiration date when the prototypical Wellemeyer canary—those terrible waste pitches that he throws, unintentionally but constantly, a foot off the outside corner—began to show up in force, flying through the wrong batter's box. They're are ominously bad, basically unsettling to watch—it's not missing location, it's not letting a slider slip out of your hand, it's just a fastball that looks no better aimed than the average State Fair radar gun fastball, and it's coming out of the hand of a guy pitching for his MLB career. If Wellemeyer weren't so irrepressibly optimistic about his chances it would be sad, in an Ankiel-y sense. Now it's just another piece of the Todd Wellemeyer Experience.
His final line has a certain DiPS-y fineness to it, but this is where getting out of mother's basement (where I guess we bloggers are not supposed to have cable) and Watching The Game comes into play—Wellemeyer looks like he has no idea where the ball is going on a given pitch. He's got no command at all. That he walks one batter or six seems to be totally apart from his fundamental problem, and aside from low leverage, single inning Getting Him Right work there's no reason to see him again, not when he's behind multiple members of the Memphis Redbirds on the depth chart.
Speaking of the depth chart, this mid-game mothership story deserves the Drudge Report "DEVELOPING......." flashers:
[...] right-hander Kyle Lohse had another MRI on his right forearm.
Lohse... has battled a series of nagging injuries for much of the season and had trouble keeping the ball down in the strike zone in his start.
"It's hard to put a finger on exactly what it is," Lohse said. "The ball is coming out with the same velocity that it did before, but I'm fighting it every pitch to get the same release as far as how it's coming out of my hand."
"When your hand is not doing what you want it to do ... I don't know if it's because I wasn't out there enough to be able to feel like I should [...] I'd hate to try and speculate until I talk to the doctor."
Losing Lohse would put the kibosh on moving Smoltz into the playoff bullpen, I would think; it also underscores the terrible gamble the Cardinals took when they bet a long-term contract on not a pitcher's skill, which is sketchy enough, but his durability.
Lohse has a typical starter's body, he doesn't throw hard, his mechanics don't have the first-glance terror that some pitchers strike in scouts' hearts, but he can get hurt—in ways conventional and unconventional—just like any other starter. Among the many mistakes the Cardinals' made in inking him to this contract was failing to price that likelihood of injury into it. (That said, it's easy to forget, in the Carp/Wainwright/Pineiro hysteria, that now that Lohse is a Cardinal, for good or ill, he's a useful player.)
Finally: in the game thread it was brought to my attention that, in the course of joking about Troy Glaus injuring himself, I actually injured Troy Glaus. In my defense, is there any more quintessential Cardinalian injury than "barking oblique"?