If you're a St. Louis Cardinals fan you have to be sick at what is going on in the bullpen these days. With an opportunity to gain ground on the Chicago Cubs, the Cards instead get swept by the visiting Milwaukee Brewers and fall four games back.
St. Louis has gone into the later innings with the lead more times than any other team in baseball and has now blown 24 save opportunities, clearly the highest number in the league.
For the front office it's clear, fail to make a bullpen addition or two and fail to make the playoffs.
It looks as though the relievers are making good pitches but just seem to get hit pretty hard when it matters. Jason Isringhausen is just a scary option and Ryan Franklin has given up a lot of hits and has an ERA close to four.
The other problem facing the Cards is who to trade to bring in the coveted relief?
Chris Duncan is on the DL, Adam Kennedy has an inflated salary for a terrible player and Anthony Reyes has just been a shell of his former self. Maybe Reyes can become a home run hitting outfielder because he clearly has lost his ability to pitch.
In the minors there are a couple of prospects that could be dealt, but the asking price for some of the marquee relievers out there may be too much for the shoe string budget Cardinals.
The other option is waiting for Carpenter to come back, scheduled to return around August 10, and wait for Wainwright who is scheduled to come off the DL around August 20. With these two back in the rotation the Cards could move some of the back of the rotation starters to the bullpen.
While that's not a bad idea, what about until these two come back from injury? August 10 is still two weeks away and if St. Louis keeps losing they could be too far back to make a serious run at the hot Cubs and Brewers.
St. Louis now goes on the road where they'll play 17 of their next 24 games. To me that's a good thing because believe or not the Cardinals have the best road record in the National League.
However the season turns out, Tony LaRussa and Dave Duncan have done a remarkable job with all the injuries and surprise stars on the club.