I’ve tried to be patient with Todd Wellemeyer.
I cheered him during his victory against the Royals—in which he allowed four hits in six strong innings—and hoped he could build some momentum for the rest of the year.
I cursed Tony LaRussa for giving him the ball in relief against the Cubs on July 12th, when Wellemeyer needed only 12 pitches to give up three runs.
He deserved our patience after coming out of relative obscurity to win 13 games for the Cardinals last season. A bright spot for the team last year, Wellemeyer gave Cardinal Nation hope for '09.
He showed promise to fortify an already scary rotation, led by Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter, so the Cardinals rewarded him with a one-year, $4 million contract in January.
Wellemeyer has responded to the tune of a 5.79 ERA—second highest in the majors—while failing to consistently find the strike zone. He’s given 49 batters free passes this season, only 13 shy of his total in '08.
Watching Wellemeyer in the middle of one of his control lapses is like watching a dog chase his tail: it’s boring and no matter how many treats you give him—Matt Holliday, Mark DeRosa—he’ll continue to run in circles with no clue what he’s doing.
After Sunday, enough is enough.
While you can’t fault the guy for staying positive, Wellemeyer’s explanation for his latest horrid performance—5.2 innings, 11 hits, seven earned runs—was laughable.
“It could be anything from pitch selection to tipping your hand to them to pitch location,” Wellemeyer told the Post Dispatch after his start Sunday in Philadelphia. “There are a lot of different factors. I wish I knew exactly.”
So do we, Todd.
The brass within the Cardinals' organization cannot continue to trot Wellemeyer out for his weekly beat down every five days and expect to seriously contend for a World Series. GM John Mozeliak and owner Bill DeWitt deserve all the credit in the world for abandoning their “untouchable” stance on prospects to try and win now with the best player in baseball.
However, letting an uncompetitive Wellemeyer keep his place in the rotation runs completely counter to the moves and excitement generated within the last few weeks.
Wellemeyer felt his mechanics were good Sunday. He felt he “had command of all (his) pitches”—maybe not on those two homers hit by the Phillies during the game, including a 433 blast by Ryan Howard.
Unfortunately for Wellemeyer, mechanics alone do not win baseball games; pitching for the Cardinals, mechanics alone do not help you keep your job.
With the acquisitions of Holliday, Julio Lugo and DeRosa—along with consistent trade chatter involving Troy Glaus for bullpen help—St. Louis management has taken an aggressive, competitive stance. Reviewing his comments after his start Sunday, Wellemeyer doesn’t seem to possess the psyche needed to play on this new-look Cardinal team.
Give Wellemeyer a 15-day stint on the DL, or a rehab assignment to Memphis; something to clear his head and regain some sort of composure so he may contribute during the postseason.
After their busy first half of the season, the Birds may be able to get by on a four-man rotation for the rest of the season. However, with Kyle Lohse, Carpenter, and Wainwright all coming off recent injuries, this may not be the best course of action. A committee of Mitchell Boggs,PJ Walters, and Brad Thompson may be in order.
Just because the Cardinals can compete in shootouts with the recent additions to the lineup, doesn’t mean the team has to give Wellemeyer countless opportunities to prove his worth.