Haven’t heard much complaining about Cardinals’ demoted reliever Ryan Franklin in a while? There’s a reason for that. No, he hasn’t been leading a remarkable resurgence on the mound. In fact, he hasn’t taken the mound at all since May 1st.
Two weeks ago, I raised the question, “Will Tony La Russa do the right thing when it comes to his personnel options in the bullpen?” Basically I questioned whether the Cardinals’ skipper would keep Ryan Franklin on the team despite his 8.86 ERA and send a promising young arm like Eduardo Sanchez or Fernando Salas back to AAA when Brian Tallet and/or Brian Augenstein came off the disabled list.
While we haven’t gotten an “official” answer to that question yet, it seems pretty clear now what La Russa’s answer will be. It’s been a good run, Mr. Franklin. By all accounts, Ryan Franklin is a great person and teammate and no one likes to see a good guy end his career like this. But the bottom line is he just can’t be trusted to get hitters out anymore. Disagree? The Cardinals’ manager doesn’t. Ryan Franklin hasn’t been trusted to take the mound since giving up the winning run in the bottom of the 9th in Atlanta a week and a half ago. Interestingly enough, every game since then has been decided by 3 runs or less (the lone exception was a 4-0 loss to the Brewers, but that game was 1-0 heading into the 9th).
In the past 2 ½ weeks, Franklin has taken the mound twice: Once with a 6-0 lead in the 8th where he gave up 2 hits on just 4 pitches and was yanked, and again in the aforementioned game in Atlanta where he was essentially La Russa’s only remaining option.
Pretty soon Brian Tallet will be coming off the disabled list, and when he does, look for Ryan Franklin to be designated for assignment. What other choice does the Cardinals’ management have now? Every other active reliever has an ERA below 3.25…and Franklin’s ERA is more than 2 ½ times higher. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what went wrong this season. Franklin followed up an All-Star appearance in 2009 by saving all but 2 of his save opportunities in 2010. I suppose a reasonable guess is that Mother Nature, and consequently every hitter in the National League, has caught up with the 38 year old right-hander.
When the obituary of Ryan Franklin’s baseball career is written… it will highlight the fact that before his downfall in 2011, he managed to save 65 of 72 games in the previous two seasons. Not bad for a 5th starter turned middle reliever in his mid 30s.
Mr. Franklin, Cardinals Nation wishes you well on all your future endeavors. When the dust settles, most fans will look back on your career fondly.