To match last season's ERA—the one that made him the St. Louis Cardinals' closer-of-second-resort—Mitchell Boggs would have to carry an ERA of 0.43 over his next 63 innings. That is, he'd have to allow three earned runs the rest of the way to come down from 12.66 to 2.21; to just match 2011's 3.56, he can afford an ERA of 1.62 over his next 50.
Small sample sizes are brutal to relief pitchers. Last year Mitchell Boggs's ERA never topped 2.81, which it reached after he allowed a run in two innings on May 14. This year, after an awful-but-not-unprecedentedly-awful month, he's five months of Mariano Rivera away from above-average.
They're not great for teams, either, which is why I can't feel too surprised or concerned about the Cardinals' move to replace Marc Rzepczynski and his ostensibly terrible body language with Seth Maness, who I'm told positively radiates good feeling out on the mound.
Maness is an unconventional bullpen call-up, and much less exciting than those fleeting Carlos Martinez rumors from last week, but when Edward Mujica is the only reliever exceeding expectations through the first month of the season it's hard to complain about how unconventional a guy who doesn't walk anybody is. (Maness's three walks in his first 25 Memphis innings increased his career walk rate.)
And Marc Rzepczynski's probably a useful relief pitcher—though I still wonder what he'd do given another chance to start—but the Cardinals don't seem to know what to do with him, and they could use another guy in the bullpen who isn't totally demoralized. (What's worse for Rzepczynski, they do know what to do with Randy Choate, who's seen three righties against eight lefties.)
Given how brutal the bullpen's small-sample machinations are, the Cardinals have actually been impressively conservative in their handling of this particular month-long bullpen nightmare. Rzepczynski is gone, but Mitchell Boggs and Joe Kelly aren't (though a week or two to straighten out his delivery might do Joe Kelly some good.) They haven't signed Brian Wilson or called up Carlos Martinez (yet.)
All that in spite of a start that's made it almost impossible for Mitchell Boggs to have a good-looking year. (I blame the World Baseball Classic.)
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