Boggs Demoted As Franklin And His 9.20 ERA Stay In The Bigs

Let me start off by saying I hate to keep beating the dead horse that is Ryan Franklin’s struggles this season. I’ve already written extensively about it twice in the past month. First, I questioned whether Cardinals manager, Tony La Russa, would do the right thing when it came time to drop a pitcher off the roster and into the minors. Two weeks ago, Franklin’s workload severely dropped off, and I thought I had my answer.

That’s what makes the decision to demote Mitchell Boggs to the minors and keep Franklin so shocking. Tony La Russa has not been confident enough to voluntarily bring him into a close game in a month. April 23rd, Franklin came in a 3-3 game in the 8th vs the Reds and let both runners he inherited score with two outs. May 1st, Franklin was the last pitcher available in a 6-5 loss to the Braves in extra innings. Other than that, here’s the situations Franklin has been asked to pitch in over the past 30 days:

May 20 – Trailing 3-0 in the 8th @ Kansas City

May 14 – Trailing 5-0 in the 7th @ Cincinnati

May 11 – Trailing 6-0 in the 4th @ Chicago

April 27 – Leading 6-0 in the 8th @ Houston

It’s not a big surprise that Franklin hasn’t been trusted. Virtually every single close game Franklin’s been involved the Cardinals have lost. The Cardinals are 3-10 in games Franklin pitches in, including 4 blown saves and 2 other games where he’s entered the game with the score tied… and exited with the Cardinals behind. At this point, it’s fair to label Franklin the “blowout specialist” of the bullpen.

So why again is Franklin in the majors and Boggs in the minors? The “best” explanation I’ve received thus far is that Boggs is still within the window of his contract/career where he can be sent to the minors, whereas Franklin would have to be released altogether. While I can understand the club not wanting to lose the services of a pitcher they’re committed to paying another $2.5 million dollars this year, sometimes it’s just best to cut your losses…literally.

Here’s a quick comparison of Boggs and Franklin:

ERA Ks BBs Innings Record WHIP
Boggs 3.66 19 4 19.2 0-2 1.07
Franklin 9.20 5 4 14.2 0-3 1.98

The numbers don’t lie. It’s not as if this is a small sample size like La Russa argued in Franklin’s defense in the second week of April (after Franklin’s fourth blown save). In 18 appearances, Boggs prevented the opposing team from scoring 12 times, a 67% rate. In 13 appearances, Franklin has prevented the opposing team from scoring twice… a 15% rate. The two teams he did manage to hold scoreless were the Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals… not exactly offensive juggernauts.

But I guess it’s useless to analyze the numbers any longer. It’s blatantly obvious that Mitchell Boggs is the better pitcher. There’s really nothing else to say. Tony La Russa obviously feels Franklin’s proven track record over the course of the past 3 years has earned him the benefit of the doubt.

Boo-birds at Busch, frustrated radio talk show callers, and angry sports forum posters would lead you to believe that Cardinal Nation adamantly disagrees.

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