The discussion as of late has began to center around improvements that need to happen to the 2012 team. Even the Cardinals front office has started working towards next season. The rotation is set, potential veteran free agents are having open discussions about possible returns, and everyone is beginning to focus once again on Albert Pujols.
In the midst of all the September call-ups that should be getting playing time to determine if they are, in fact, ready for the big leagues, another player is slowly establishing himself in a key 2012 role for the team.
Jason Motte has become a closer.
He was one of the few back of the bullpen guys to not get a shot early in the season when Ryan Franklin fell apart. The pitchers that the team went through were generally given a few games to see what they could do. While Motte was being used in late inning situations, he was not being given the opportunity to close the door for the team. In the midst of it all, Motte started stringing together an impressive 2011 season. Consider some of the facts…
The most obvious show of dominance has occurred from July 26th through September 3rd. During that time frame, Motte would make 21 appearances over 18 2/3 innings pitched without being credited with a single run allowed. He would inherit 15 base runners, allowing one to score on August 22nd against the Dodgers in St. Louis. His command, which has frequently been in question, would stabilize as he would strike out 15 batters over this stretch of the season while only walking two.
Overlapping that time frame was a span of games from July 26th through August 28th in which Motte would pitchin 14 1/3 innings and only surrender one base hit. Gaby Sanchez would reach on a line drive that hit Motte on the sixth of August as the Cardinals played the Marlins in Florida.
This month alone, Motte has made eight appearances, striking out seven hitters over 8 2/3 innings, walking one, surrendering one run, and compiling a record of one win and six saves.
In short, Motte has started becoming the dominant pitcher that the Cardinals have hoped he would become. His control has been much better and his effectiveness has risen to the challenge.
When it comes to 2012, the Cardinals may not need to be looking for a closer to nail down the bullpen.
Seems to me, they already have their guy.
Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
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