Not all of Dave Duncan's pitching projects have gone well.
There was Jose Jimenez, who ended up finishing 5-14 in 1999, despite having the skill to throw a no-hitter. Anthony Reyes never developed under Duncan, despite throwing a gem in the first game of the 2006 World Series, and Bud Smith, who threw a no-hitter at the ripe age of 21, was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies after a 6.94 ERA in 2002.
Bottom line: ya can't win 'em all...not even if you're Dave Duncan.
Todd Wellemeyer is about to fall into that group; the group that not even the infamous Dunc' can fix.
Wellemeyer has always been a plus arm, but it appeared that in 2008, Duncan turned from a power arm into a good pitcher. Wellemeyer still got a decent amount of strikeouts, but was also going deeper into games and pitching to contact. He went 13-9, and with an ERA of only 3.71, it looked like he might be able to turn a corner in his career.
Those possibilities might have been stated a little bit hasty.
Wellemeyer has struggled big time in 2009. Not only has he not been chucking 98 mph heat, but he's also missing the strike zone more than ever. He's 5-5, but has a rotation high ERA of 5.05, and hasn't gone beyond seven innings once this season.
Tony La Russa and Duncan have options. There's always Brad Thompson, who I personally can't stand or understand why he's still on the team, but he seems to be loved. This babyfaced sinkerballer hasn't thrown in over two weeks (again, I'm not sure the logic on this one), and has an ERA of 4.30, and he's going to start tomorrow against the Reds.
But I think the true options are to be found in the minor leagues. Mitchell Boggs has a 3.22 ERA in four starts in 2009. PJ Walters wasn't very good in his MLB debut this season, but he also was only given one start, and that was at Wrigley field, hardly an easy assignment.
Blake Hawksworth, the former No. 1 pitching prospect in the organization, might be a career Quad-A player, but he's also never had a chance in the bigs. And one has to think that the team didn't draft Clayton Mortensen and Adam Ottavino for nothing a couple of years back. Both have decent ERAs (3.35 and 4.53 respectively), and again, if not now, when?
The bottom line is this: Todd Wellemeyer is not the Cardinals' best option right now. Give him time in Triple-A to get his mechanics and mentality right. Maybe neither Mortensen, Ottavino, or Hawksworth will work out.
But it's worth a chance.