Bullpen Usage for the remainder of the year

John Mozeliak potentially strengthened an already good bullpen at the trade deadline with one deal for righty Steve Cishek* - a former closer for the Miami** Marlins, who had a 2.35 FIP and 73 saves in 117 games finished (do not read that as save opportunities) - and one deal for righty Jonathan Broxton - who I loved to make fun of in his partial season with the Royals because he had about a 2-3 year stretch of really bad right before that, but has really been quite a serviceable pitcher throughout his career and is healthy right now with a 3.37 FIP since the beginning of 2014. Those two join a bullpen that already has very good righties in Trevor Rosenthal, who has gone through a period of dead arm around the All-Star break already this year, but has a 2.25 FIP; Seth Maness, who has already been used 55 times for 44 1/3 innings(!) (3.32 FIP); Matt Belisle, currently on the 60-day DL; Jordan Walden, currently on the 60-day DL after possible overuse early in the season; Miguel Socolovich, (3.18 FIP) who is on the 40-man but currently in Memphis; and Carlos Villanueva, who has been a quite serviceable long man with a 3.99 FIP in 26 games and 44 2/3 IP. The Cardinals seem to have their lock down lefties in place. Kevin Siegrist, however, has been used 55 times and has over 50 innings pitched still in the first week of August. His 2.60 FIP shows he is handling it just fine, but this is a guy who came back from injury late last year. Randy Choate's 3.71 FIP is not great and he's in his age 39 season - but they're typically using him solely as a LOOGY. Yes, he has 53 games pitched, but he's thrown just 22 2/3 innings and just 306 pitches.

* - I really wanted to write Pat Neshek in strikethrough font, but they don't have that on Facebook

** - again strikethrough font with Florida

I realize that's quite a lot in one paragraph, so a quick glance list here with the names, righty or lefty, and games pitched in 2015:

  • Rosenthal - R - 48
  • Maness - R - 55
  • Belisle - R (DL) - 30
  • Walden - R (DL) - 16***
  • Socolovich - R - 33***
  • Villanueva - R - 26
  • Siegrist - L - 55
  • Choate - L - 53
  • Cishek - R - 38
  • Broxton - R - 43

*** includes minors/rehab/time with another club

That's a lot of games with 1/3 of the season still remaining for quite a few of them.

The optimal (traditional) bullpen for the Cardinals (when everyone is healthy) without regard for arm health is obviously:

  • Rosenthal gets the 9th
  • Siegrist and Walden get the 7th/8th depending on matchups
  • Cishek, Socolovich, Belisle, and Broxton get the 6th
  • Maness is the emergency fireman - (read: man on base, need a ground ball)
  • Choate is your LOOGY
  • and Villanueva is the long man.

However, with the usage patterns shown by Matheny thus far, it might be best to tamper down Maness, Rosie, and Siegrist's usages. At this point in the year, with the 5.5 game lead over Pittsburgh and the best record in baseball by 4.5 games over the Royals, I think that I would employ this strategy (at least until the playoffs or until the 2nd place team in the NL Central is

  • Rosenthal gets the 9th, but is not allowed to warm up more than 2 days in a row.
  • Siegrist gets the 9th when Rosie is unavailable and gets the 8th otherwise, but is not allowed to warm up more than 2 days in a row.
  • Cishek gets the 9th/8th when Rosie/Siegrist are unavailable and gets the 7th otherwise, and monitor his workload closely.
  • Broxton gets the 8th/7th when Siegrist/Cishek are unavailable and gets the 6th otherwise, and monitor his workload closely.
  • Maness comes in between the 5th and 7th when needed, but is not allowed to warm up more than 2 days in a row.
  • Choate gets 1-2 outs whenever you need him to, he's in his swan song. Let him throw if he says he can.
  • Villanueva gets everything else. Throw him as often as he needs to go because it's not needed often.

When 40-man rosters arrive in