That's two games in which Suppan has been about as good as Tony and Duncan could have expected and two games in which he's left before getting himself in line with the win. Honestly, as someone who was neither a Suppan fan nor a self-immolater, I've enjoyed watching Suppan to this point—he's very obviously working within the La Russa/Duncan framework, and he's done pretty well, if you like that Tom Glavine just-off-the-plate fastball.
He even had some swinging strikes on those please-don't-swingballs, mostly when he brought his fastball or curveball a little lower and out of the zone. He's avoided the walk, he's thrown a few strikeouts, he's got an obvious gameplan; that's about all I can ask for in the Cardinals' sixth? seventh? starter. And La Russa and Duncan are perfectly willing to take him out before the fifth inning is complete (and replace him with a youngster, no less!) For all their bluster, I think the two of them have perfectly reasonable expectations for Suppan's performance, and I appreciate that.
Bringing out Hawksworth for a third inning, though—that was the product of unreasonable expectations. La Russa's famous for putting his players in position for positive outcomes as often as possible; he did that earlier in this same game with Jeff Suppan. To bring out the Cardinals' embattled long reliever, get two scoreless innings out of him, and then come back to him for a third is overreaching both in terms of the game situation and Blake Hawksworth's psyche. It's a bad move and it didn't work out.
But speaking of perfectly reasonable expectations, mine involve Matt Holliday hitting two home runs every day. Of course, he could consider doing it with runners on base...
At the mothership newswire, some bullet-pointable news and decisions—
- Lohse will take extra time before throwing. The Kyle Lohse rehab to this point has been surprisingly fast and transparent; I was expecting the Troy Glaus situation, where we just don't hear about him until September and then he pitches three innings in long relief, but he's remained in the news every step of the way and now it's news that he's not throwing yet. With Suppan in the fourth starter role and Blake Hawksworth seeminly La Russa's choice for the fifth starter, when it's necessary—this is one of those weird La Russa decisions where Hawksworth isn't good enough to be an important part of the bullpen, so he can throw six innings every five days instead—Kyle Lohse's rehab is suddenly worth watching. Lohse: "The reason they gave was that originally they were just going to [operate on] the one muscle that showed up in the MRI, but just to make sure there wasn't any further problem, they did all the muscles. So they just want to make sure, because [the surgery] was a bit more intrusive." Well, alright.
- Motte looks strong in earning third save. Motte looks strong just about all the time, it seems; he's striking out 11 per nine innings, his walk rate is down, and his ERA is good enough that the bad taste in Cardinals fans' collective mouth is just about washed out. What's impressive is the way he's done it; he began the season seemingly reliant on an unclassifiable Second Pitch, and has now moved directly to throwing 98 and only 98. These last few weeks—this must be what he looked like in Memphis in 2008.
Cards will use DH role to spell regulars. This should not come as a huge shock, but it's bad news to the remaining contingent of Allen Craig fans.
"You look and see who needs to get off their feet," La Russa said. "Like a Ludwick might need to get off his feet one of those games. Who plays in his place? I don't know. That's the one plus I like about the six games, is that it gives our bench players [some chances to play]. Somebody's going to play."I'm glad to see newly superhuman Ryan Ludwick on La Russa's list of DHs, and I hope Albert Pujols can be convinced to take a game or two off. Since calling Craig up was as fantastic an option as Matt Holliday hitting second, I like what it is I think this means: more Randy Winn starting in right field and less Nick Stavinoha starting at DH.