Cards Blog: Wellemeyer Shows Grit

Apr 29, 2008 at 10:09 am

Last night was Todd Wellemeyer's best start of the year. That's right, you heard me. Four runs, high pitch counts, getting knocked around all over the park. Best start of the year.

Let me explain. Up to this point in the season, Wellemeyer has had excellent command of his full arsenal of pitches. Each time he's taken the mound, we've all been impressed with how much better his control is this year than in the past. He's been able to spot his pitches for strikes, and he's had the movement and velocity to get plenty of swings and misses, even with just his fastball.

Last night, he didn't have any of that.


Wellemeyer went out last night against the Reds, one of the better offenses you're likely to see, and had pretty much nothing working. He couldn't find the strike zone with any of his pitches. His slider was fairly sharp, but flatter than usual. The change-up pretty much just sat there. Colonel Todd couldn't get it going at all last night, and he made it work. If not for a Chris Duncan special out in left field (I know he's a good hitter, but he really does seem to be more trouble than good these days), Wellemeyer would have had yet another quality outing. As it was, he still gutted his way through six innings, working behind in nearly every count, struggling all night to find any consistency, and kept his team in the ballgame.

Don't get me wrong; at the time, I was cursing out ol' Todd, telling anyone near me who would listen that this is the Real Wellemeyer. This is the guy I expected to see all along, and see how angry I am to be right?

A funny thing happened, though, as the game went on. This wasn't the Todd Wellemeyer I expected to see. This was a pitcher who couldn't find his stuff -- and still gave his team a chance. This was a Real Pitcher. Needless to say, I was more than a little bit surprised. I find myself more impressed with Todd Wellemeyer this morning than I have been at any other point this year. It's one thing for a pitcher to go out and succeed when he's got it working. It's something else entirely when a pitcher struggles, but still finds a way to make it work, to keep it together. That's what I saw from Wellemeyer last night, and I can't express how much it impressed me. I think he just may be for real.

A word about the catch that wasn't made in left field: I don't blame Duncan entirely. Izturis had a chance at it; he went back a ways and then just sort of gave up and stopped. Ankiel was coming over, and as the center fielder, he needs to take control of that ball. Still, though, even with plenty of blame to go around, the fact is, Chris Duncan called for a fly ball last night that he couldn't find. He put his hands up, called off the fielders coming toward him, and then let the ball drop ten feet away. Ankiel nearly bailed him out, almost making an acrobatic play when he saw the ball was going to drop, but it was too late.

I respect the heck out of Duncan's bat; he offers a ton of power and impressive on-base skills. But the man has no business trying to play left field on a major league baseball team, at least not regularly. The sooner the Cardinals can find a trading partner in the American League to take Duncan and DH him, the better for all involved. I think his defensive difficulties are actually beginning to carry over and affect his overall confidence, to the point that his offensive production is being hurt. When he first came up, the Cards had to find a way to keep his bat in the lineup, and left field was the only real option. They have better overall options now, and they need to bite the bullet and do the right thing, not only for the team but for Chris himself. He's never going to reach his ceiling as a player as long as he's forced to try and hold down a position he's so ill-suited for.

In summation:

Wellemeyer was bad last night but still almost made it work.

Duncan needs a new home, for the good of everyone involved.

And by the way, while I'm thinking of it, Bronson Arroyo irritates me. I'm not really sure why, but he does. I just don't like the guy. I didn't like him when he was with Boston, either. Doesn't really have much to do with anything, just felt like getting it off my chest. I feel better now.

-Aaron Schafer