09/15/2004: 5 into 4 won't go, redux....
Apropos of yesterday's post re: the Cardinals' postseason rotation, Brian Gunn has this to say about the postseason rotation (same post from Redbird Nation that I quote in the preceding entry (at the top of the page until tomorrow sometime, then below this afterwards); go there for the link):
Oh, and one last point: is there any doubt that Jeff Suppan is the odd man out when it comes to the Cards' postseason rotation? Dave Duncan says he and La Russa have "pretty much decided" who won't make the cut, and it seems highly unlikely that it's Morris. According to the Post, Dunc "heavily implies" that Matty Mo is in, and "a club source indicated this month that Morris 'absolutely' would be in the postseason mix."If Brian's right (and he's probably forgotten more about Cardinals baseball than I've ever known), I do hope that Duncan and La Russa are paying close attention to the situational splits that I alluded to in my earlier post. If we find ourselves in a postseason day game on the road, and Morris is slated to pitch--bench the SOB for Gawd's sake!!! We can't afford to waste any games in a short series.
Now, of course, the other ax victim could be either Carpenter, Marquis, or Woody, but none of those names add up. Carpenter has been our best starter, and Woody is a bulldog -- a La Russa player if there ever was one. Normally I could see TLR cutting a youngster like Marquis, but Marquis has been too good to cast aside in favor of Suppan, and besides, La Russa did start young Rick Ankiel in the playoffs a few years back. (Although that might be an argument against him going with youth.) Suppan didn't do himself any favors tonight by giving up 10 hits (many of them rockets) and 7 runs in 3.2 innings.
I argued the other day for Morris as the odd man out in the postseason -- and I stand by that -- but I won't lose any sleep if it's Suppan. Just like last year, Suppan has been bad after the All-Star Break (a 5.00+ ERA) and he doesn't seem to be fooling many people. Over the course of the year he's averaged 3.19 runs allowed in his 27 starts, which is 0.47 runs better than the 3.66 runs-per-start allowed by Morris. That seems like a lot, but seriously, half a run isn't that big a number when you're dealing with only a handful of starts. Morris' stats are worse than Suppan's, and I still think he's more likely to go nuclear on us, but Suppan isn't the worst choice for the chopping block.
UPDATE: However, we have The Cardinals Birdhouse reprinting some speculations about Matty Mo from Rick Wilton of Baseball Hotsheet:
RHP-Matt Morris-STLI'm neither the Cardinals or a Morris owner (never felt quite up to getting into fantasy baseball yet), but I'm disconcerted....
A visit to your local oil change shop is considered routine, as is a yearly dental exam or physical. To the best of my knowledge, though, major league pitchers don't have "routine" visits to their team physician. But that's what manager Tony La Russa is calling a visit by Morris (on Sept 14) to the Cardinals' team doc. The reason for the visit? Morris' troubling start on September 8th where he worked just two innings, walked three, and allowed seven runs and five hits. The observations from San Diego were even more disturbing. Morris was seen shaking his pitching arm during the abbreviated outing. Veteran Cardinals observers indicate his arm slot dropped from his previous stellar outing on September 3rd against the Dodgers. In that start, he threw 111 pitches in a complete game, striking out 11 and walking none. His velocity was clocked in the low-to-mid 90s on September 3rd, but in his latest start he couldn't get past 88 MPH. Most of his pitches in his latest start were cut-fastballs and breaking balls. He threw very few fastballs. The Cardinals haven't said that they've sent him out for an MRI, which suggests that they aren't overly concerned. It's possible that it was nothing more than some very minor stiffness, but we've been on the bandwagon all season that Morris is pitching with a damaged shoulder. He's had some good starts this season and some troubling ones. This may turn out to be nothing, but it has to be disconcerting to the Cardinals and Morris owners this time of the year.
UPDATE II: Dan at Get Up, Baby! crunched the numbers between Matt Morris and Jeff Suppan (there's a really neat graph there; go take a look), and he gives some support to Brian Gunn's assertion that putting Suppan on the postseason chopping block isn't the end of the world:
Suppan's more consistent, all right, but it's not the good kind. Suppan's consistently average to below. Morris, on the other hand, has his ridiculously bad outings, but also has the kind where he can carry you. So I guess it depends: if you want a guy who will keep you somewhere within striking distance, the kind of guy who'll maybe give up 4 runs in 6 innings, go with Suppan and hope for Larry Pujedmolen to beat up on the other guy. If, on the other hand, you want a guy who could win a game by himself, you go with Matty Mo. My two cents goes something like this: Suppan's bad outings and Morris's bad outings, when compared, aren't that difference in terms of giving you a chance to win. Morris's good outings, on the other hand, could make all the difference in the world.
Len on 09.15.04 @ 06:30 AM CST