After seeing the box score for tonight's game, I've come to the conclusion that Cardinals' closer Jason Isringhausen is just having one of those years again...
Like 2006. You can attempt to twist those numbers positively for Izzy: 33 saves and 52 strikeouts in 58.1 innings pitched doesn't sound so bad, huh?
But then you take into account his eight losses, 10 blown saves, and a whopping 38 walks.
And the 3.55 ERA? That's great if you're a starting pitcher, but I don't want my closer giving up a run more than once every three times he takes the mound. No, thank you.
Then came 2007. Sunny, happy 2007 for Izzy. Unlike the rest of the Cardinals' woeful pitching staff that year, Izzy dominated with a 2.48 ERA, only two blown saves, and nearly a 2-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
On top of that, he added career save number 250. Not too shabby.
But now there's 2008. While Izzy does deserve some kudos for getting eight saves so far in April, after Friday's blowup, his ERA has ballooned to 6.55. Uh-oh.
Even scarier for Cards fans is the fact that, unlike previous years, most of Izzy's surrendered runs are not from walks. He has only given up three walks in 11 innings pitched.
Optimists may point to this stat as evidence of Izzy's improved control, but the man is getting shelled so far. He gave up two huge extra-base hits and a sacrifice fly tonight.
Granted, these smackings came from respected power hitters like Miguel Tejada, Lance Berkman, and Carlos Lee ("El Caballo"; I just love that nickname!). But these are precisely the type of big-time players that Izzy usually battles toe-to-toe.
For a closer of his caliber, there is simply no excuse to make this many mistakes to this many guys.
Then again, we need to accept as gospel truth that very few pitchers — starter or reliever — are consistently effective each year. Those who are usually make it into Cooperstown or wrap up $100 million contracts.
So, the question is, is Izzy in that type of class? The man has almost 300 career saves and is No. 1 on the all-time franchise saves list for the Cards, beating out elite names like Bruce Sutter and Todd Worrell.
But is he Hall of Fame worthy? The man puts out brilliant efforts like in 2007, but equals them with subpar years like 2006.
Who knows if Izzy is truly in that elite class? Maybe if he turns it around in 2008, he will solidify his place among the closing gods.
For now, let's just hope it's not Izzy circa 2006 again, or we could see this team's start squandered quickly.