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Mitchell Boggs has been less erratic this year.
As enlightened baseball fans, we understand the reliever's save stat is a rather stupid construction. Managers use their best reliever to get a "save" which is almost always not the most critical juncture of the contest.
That tends to occur between the sixth and eighth innings, when the starting pitcher is in trouble and actually needs, you know—saving.
That said, if you compare the same "stupid stat" across all National League teams, it does provide context, and the Cardinals bullpen is tied for 10th out of 16 teams in saves with 18. San Francisco leads the NL with 30 saves.
What is weird is that the club's bullpen peripherals aren't that bad, or are at least in the middle of the pack in many cases.
Cardinal reliever's are eighth in WHIP (1.36), seventh in batting average allowed (.253), and sixth in walks allowed (91). The Giants bullpen, by contrast, has walked the fewest batters with 77.
What is more indicative of the bullpen's performance is, not only the lack of the simple save, but that the bullpen ranks a distant tenth in ERA at 4.45 (ninth-ranked Colorado checks in at 4.19).
4.45 in today's pitching-dominated game is like a 6.00 ERA during the steroid era, which is ironic since the Cards actually have had three relievers achieve an ERA over 6.00 this season (Sam Freeman, Eduardo Sanchez and J.C. Romero). You can throw in four more that have an ERA over 5.00 for bad measure.
Where the bullpen has really faltered is in home runs allowed, with 30, which is twice as many as San Francisco. Yes the Giants lead in that category, too. And the hits the bullpen has allowed have always seemed to come at the absolute worst times.
On the bright side, Jason Motte and Mitchell Boggs, after having some early-season jitters of their own, have really settled down to become foundations to build the bullpen on.
Maikel Cleto is slowly learning to harness his blazing fastball and Memphis call-up Barret Browning has been a revelation, albeit in a very limited sample.
But the fact remains that Pittsburgh and Cincinnati's bullpens are ranked first and second, respectively, in bullpen ERA, and this is exactly why both lead the Cards in the NL Central standings.