Thank you, Edward Mujica. Thank you twice, Edward Mujica.
Thank you, first of all, for turning into the best, most exaggerated possible version of Edward Mujica there was just in time for the St. Louis Cardinals to need a closer. To be perfectly honest, the pretty-good, reasonably accurate version of Edward Mujica probably would have earned the closer's job anyway, this year; the Cardinals were in far too much trouble to get caught up in appearances.
But the best possible version—with 22 strikeouts and one walk through two months—made it inevitable, and since then he's pitched 25 innings about as well as they could be pitched.
Thanks also for pitching a little better than Trevor Rosenthal. That was easy, for a couple of weeks—in his first 13 innings he allowed six runs on 16 hits and (start mumbling here if you're minimizing his season) 17strikeoutsandthreewalks.
Since then, he hasn't allowed an earned run, which has made it somewhat more difficult. That's 14 more innings, with 23 strikeouts, three walks, and (start mumbling here if you think he really turned a corner) ninehitswhichisadmittedlystilla.320BAbip.
Trevor Rosenthal is having an outstanding season disguised, by timing, as a really good season; he's got an ERA of 2.00 and a BAbip over .370. He's thrown all of 49 regular-season innings—24 fewer than Mitchell Boggs threw last year—but they've been pretty great. Thanks to Edward Mujica we'll find it much easier, sometime in November, to argue about where (and over what period of time) he should throw his next 200.
And also much more vital, because Mujica (thanks to John Mozeliak, I guess) is a free agent at the end of the year, and without him the Cardinals will find themselves (thanks to Jason Motte?) with a typically convoluted front-of-the-bullpen question to answer.
It's simple enough, in June, to see things trending toward closer. The Cardinals' bullpen has been as middling as their rotation has exceptional, and while Rosenthal has faced 20 batters more than anyone else in the bullpen the rotation has gotten good innings out of the likes of Tyler Lyons.
But that, for me, is exactly why Rosenthal should be a starter until he proves he isn't one. In a rotation that was notable for its depth—that was good enough and deep enough, in the first place, to lose Rosenthal—the Cardinals have lost so many innings that they will try on Wednesday to remember where it was they left Joe Kelly. In the bullpen that has lost Motte, Boggs, and Rzepczynski—that needs Rosenthal so much—Victor Marte has still only thrown two innings.
My faith is a little shaken at the moment, given the events of the last two months, but I believe this to be true: Eventually the Cardinals will call up a starter who isn't immediately capable of throwing six above-average innings. It might not be this season, but it'll happen.