St. Louis Cardinals' Hopes for Postseason Play in the Hands of Rookie Hurlers

Brad CreechContributor IAugust 28, 2008

The struggling Cardinal bullpen has been the main weakness for the Redbirds in 2008. Tony La Russa has explored many options this year in trying to fix the problem and has come up short in many attempts.

With the gradual decline of the once-dominant closer, Jason Isringhausen, many people have tried to fill his shoes. One of these, Ryan Franklin, has done a decent job, but he has fallen short in the eyes of many Cardinal fans, with seven blown saves already this year. 

Many people clamored that they needed to go out and get Brian Fuentes from the Rockies during the trade deadline, but management failed to pull the trigger. Now that both veterans have "dropped the ball" in a sense, and a trade wasn't made, La Russa is forced to dive into the Cardinals' "farm system" to find a temporary fix.

One person that has tried their hand in the closer role has been former starter and rookie, Chris Perez. He did well as a starter at first, but he struggled as the season progressed, so they sent him back down to AAA to learn some new tricks.

Since coming up, he has recorded great saves against the Dodgers, Marlins, Braves, and, most recently, the Milwaukee Brewers. He has solidified his position as the primary closer for the Cards in the eyes of many by working under pressure and striking out big names in the clutch, such as the phenom power hitter for the Brewers, Prince Fielder.

The problem is: Perez cannot go every night for the Redbirds.

Solution: bring up another young gun to take the second closer's position during the expansion of the 40-man roster, since Franklin hasn't been consistent this year.

I believe the person that would best fit this role would be the young right-handed closer from AAA Memphis, Jason Motte. The first thing that catches your eye is his overpowering fastball that ranges in the mid-to-upper 90s.

In 61 games at AAA, Motte has pitched 64-2/3 innings with an era of 3.20. Opponents are batting .238 and have gone deep only five times against him. My favorite stat is the fact that he has struck out 107 batters, only walked 25, and only given up 23 earned runs.

Those are the three major statistics when judging whether or not a guy can close out a game. Most great closers are only good at one or two of these, but Motte has excelled at all three.

In my opinion, Motte is ready for the big leagues and must make a huge splash down the stretch for the Cardinals to have a real shot at making it to the playoffs.