MLB: Ryan Franklin May Be Out as Cardinals' Closer After Fourth Blown Save
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Saint Louis Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak suggested Monday afternoon that closer Ryan Franklin has been removed from his role for the time being.
"The closer's role is about confidence, and he's gotta go back to just doing what he had success with in the past. He's gotta go back to that recipe," Mozeliak said in an interview aired on Fox 2 Saint Louis. "I think from a short term, the club has to look ways to ease the pressure on him and find other ways to maybe close the game as we move forward, but hopefully at some point he can go back and take that job."
These comments come just a day after Franklin suffered his fourth blown save of the year. His latest ninth-inning collapse came against Los Angeles on Sunday when Matt Kemp hit a two-run walk-off home run to give the Dodgers a 2-1 victory over the Cardinals.
That home run to Kemp was the third allowed by Franklin this season.
Franklin, who has converted just one of five save attempts so far in 2011, has surrendered eight hits and posted an 11.57 ERA in 4.2 innings of work.
Mozeliak's comments suggest Franklin could be reinstated as the team's closer later this season though.
In terms of alternatives, the Cardinals GM did not mention or even hint at any potential replacements, but there would appear to be candidates within the bullpen.
Mitchell Boggs, who appears to be the media's pick to close out games for the Cardinals, has looked impressive so far this season. With a 95 mph fastball and a potentially lethal slider (it is a work in progress), Boggs has 12 strikeouts in eight innings of work so far.
While he does not have experience as a closer, Boggs does have plenty of experience working out of the bullpen and appears to be one of the more qualified candidates within the organization.
Injuries to Bryan Augenstein and Brian Tallet have opened the door for 22-year-old Eduardo Sanchez. While Sanchez has been nothing short of spectacular in his two major league appearances (3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 8 Ks), it is hard to see manager Tony La Russa putting such an unproven commodity in as closer.
A name not getting much attention is Miguel Batista. The first place I heard Batista's name brought up was on KMOV's "Sports Sunday" by Randy Karraker, host of the "Fast Lane" on 101.1 ESPN Radio in St. Louis. Karraker gives a more in-depth explanation in that clip, but here's a quick recap.
Batista has experience as a closer. He saved 31 games with Toronto in 2005 and worked a few games as a closer last season with the Washington Nationals. In seven innings of work so far this season, Batista has allowed just one run on six hits and struck out four.
Who will replace Franklin as the Cardinals' closer?
Jason Motte could also fill in as closer, but he is still trying to bounce back from a rough Spring Training. Motte has surrendered two runs on four hits with three strikeouts in seven innings of work.
Fox Sports senior baseball writer and reporter Ken Rosenthal said he believes the Cardinals will eventually look outside of the organization for a closer.
"I'm getting the sense, the strong sense, that they're going to be in the market for some late-inning relief help come the deadline," Rosenthal said Monday morning on the "ITD Morning After" on 590 The Fan KFNS in Saint Louis. "In the interim, they'll go with Boggs or Sanchez and they'll have to do that. Boggs is the much more logical choice, but I'm guessing, even if they do that, they're still going to want more help: either a set-up man or a closer."
Rosenthal went on to mention Heath Bell and Jonathan Broxton as closers that may be made available as the trade deadline nears.
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