October 16, 2013

#NLCS — I still don't get #Cardinals and Miller, and here's why

Update: Yes, Lance Lynn won game 4 against the Dodgers. That doesn't negate the issue of what the heck is Shelby Miller then doing on the roster at all, if the innings count is a real worry. 

Update 2, Oct. 16: Assuming Miller is THAT gassed or the arm is that much of a worry, more second-guessing in Game 5. Matheny could have pinch-hit for Kelly in the top of the 5th — IF Miller were available for long relief. But, he apparently ain't. So, again, why's he on the roster? 

At the same time, this is another opportunity to second-guess Don Mattingly, too. Knowing that the Cards have struggled against lefties all year, why is J.P. Howell the only lefty reliever on the Dodger roster this round?

Paco Rodriguez did a good job in limited opportunity this year as a reliever.

OK, back to my original post.

Great pitching job by Adam Wainwright to close out the Pirates. And now, onto the Dodgers.

Tentative rotation for first three games?

That means, per whisperings that a good sports friend of mine has heard, that Shelby Miller's gotta be on the shelf, doesn't it? Like Stephen Strasburg was last year with the Nationals, only a more "stealth" version? I've not seen anything that's pretty "hard" in the rumor department on this, but it could well be true. I mean, the Cards themselves discussed it this year, per Gould. And, at 173.1, he's near that top edge of 180.

So, I say, if this is true, then Cardinals manager Mike Matheny should drop him from the roster. Whether you want yet another pitcher, or another batter, fill the spot with somebody else.  Since Allen Craig is dropping hints he might be able to play, if you think you can, put him on the roster.

And, oops:

Well, that option's dead, then.

Beyond that? If pitch or inning limits are serious, then treat them that way, you know? Don't even pitch Miller for an inning in relief, like you did against the Pirates.

Because then, you get second-guessed for not treating them more seriously, if something does happen to his arm. And, if nothing happens, you get second-guessed by the likes of me for not starting him.

And, just maybe, I can stop my second-guessing. At ESPN, Jayson Stark hints that Miller might — might, nothing more definite — get the Game 4 nod over Lance Lynn. And, Lynn pitching out of the bullpen during the extra innings of Game 1 indicates this might be a possibility.

And, dammit, I'm wrong again! Curse you, Matheny.

It's Lynn for Game 4. Yes, he did decently in relief in Game 1. I still don't trust him to start. And, if Miller's not starting because of innings concerns, even if they're flexible, I still don't get why he's on the roster.

And, per that ESPN link, I have good reason not to trust him:
Lynn worked the last two innings of the Cardinals' 3-2, 13-inning victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. He took the loss in Game 2 of the NL Division Series against the Pittsburgh and has failed to pitch five innings in any of his three career postseason starts the last two seasons.
I'm already on record as finding the idea of Lynn starting a post-season game as barf-inducing. Hell, I'd even start Jake Westbrook ahead of him, especially in a road game. And that's saying something. Or beg Chris Carpenter to be Lazarus for five innings, then go to the pen quickly, if there's any way Carp can be eligible for the postseason.

(Yes, I know neither one actually is on the postseason roster. The Carp comment was tongue in cheek. Westbrook not. Sure he semi-imploded in the second half of the year. But he has experience, and some degree of playoff cool or whatever, that Lynn doesn't.)

Or, more seriously, riffing on my Carp comment, just do that with Miller. One five-inning starting slot in both the LCS and the World Series, if you get there, puts him at 183, just a touch over 180. And still avoids Lynn starting. Because, per Gould, GM John Mozeliak said the innings limit idea was "flexible."

But, don't use him in "waste" situations, like you did when Lynn got blown out by the Pirates in Game 2 of the division series. That's just stupid, IMO, as I said at the time. If he is on a semi-shutdown, make it a full shutdown; having him do an inning here and there of mop-up won't help other relievers that much, first of all. Second of all, unlike Wainwright in 2006, he didn't get late regular-season prep to be a reliever. Third, per my suggestion above, two mop-up innings in the LCS is little different than five innings as a starter.

So, again: Keep him off the roster for the LCS, and I don't have to second-guess you. I mean, you're not fooling other teams. Mike, unless you immediately announce that he's part of the rotation, i.e., the game 4 starter, opposing managers will assume he's not. I mean, they know the score and what team management said earlier this year. You're not fooling them otherwise, and you're just wasting roster space.

My preference?
1. Start Miller in Game 4 (announced now) with short limit
2. Start Westbrook in Game 4.

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