Lance Lynn

Cardinals won’t stretch out Lance Lynn, Kyle McClellan

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OK, yeah, boring headline; this one probably won’t get a lot of clicks. But it rates as a pretty curious decision to me.

New Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Monday that he doesn’t plan to stretch out any of his relievers, a group that includes former starters Lance Lynn, Kyle McClellan and Mitchell Boggs. In means that in the event of a late injury to one of his five starters, he’ll probably be forced to turn to Brandon Dickson at the back of the rotation.

“When you have a younger ‘pen, you don’t want to confuse the issue,” Matheny said. “When you have guys who are still trying to find their role … right now we have everybody exactly where we want to be.”

Right now, yes. And I strongly believe that major league teams typically go overboard in worrying about the worst-case scenario. But the Cardinals’ sixth, seventh and eighth best starters are all in their bullpen. That could come back to bite them later on.

Of course, if Chris Carpenter or someone else were to suffer an oblique strain tomorrow, there would be plenty of time for the Cardinals to adjust. Lynn would be the obvious choice to move back to the rotation in that case. But if Lynn finishes the spring never having thrown more than two innings in an outing and a starter goes down at the beginning of April, it’s going to take a few outings in stretch him out.

As for Matheny’s reasoning, I think he’s worrying about it a bit too much. Lynn didn’t work as a reliever in the minors before the Cards shifted him to the pen last year, and all he did was post a 2.22 ERA and fan 32 in 24 1/3 innings out of the pen. I think the smart play would be to have him start games this spring, just in case.

Wade Davis? Greg Holland? Who needs ’em?

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 21: Joakim Soria #48 of the Kansas City Royals throws in the eighth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Kauffman Stadium on August 21, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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The story of the two-time defending AL champion and current defending World Series champ Kansas City Royals cannot be told without talking at length about their bullpen.

In 2014, Wade Davis, Greg Holland and Kelvin Herrera formed a shutdown brigade that not only made it next to impossible for the opposition to mount late rallies, but managed something which seemed utterly impossible before 2014: they turned Ned Yost into a tactical genius. Indeed, the only time Yost got criticism at all that fall was when he messed with the autopilot formula that had that three-headed monster handling the 7th, 8th and 9th innings.

Much the same happened in 2015, of course, despite Holland’s sharp decline and eventual injury. Davis and Herrera continued their dominance. They were joined by Ryan Madson and a cast of other effective relievers who, along with timely hitting, great defense and good health, helped propel the Royals to the title.

This year had not been quite the same story. Holland has been out all year and Davis, while effective when he’s pitched, has missed time due to injury. As has longtime contributor and presumptive next-man-up Luke Hochevar. Herrera is basically still Herrera, but Ned Yost has been presented with a decidedly different set of choices. Lots of choices and Ned Yost don’t always go together well, but lately that hasn’t mattered.

Last night the Royals’ bullpen came in to a close game and tossed three scoreless innings. That set a franchise record with 32 straight scoreless frames, besting the previous record set back in the club’s inaugural season in 1969. The streak is a huge part of why the Royals have won nine games in a row.

Unlike the success of 2014-15, the streak is not a three-man show. As Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star notes, eight different relievers have appeared for Kansas City during the streak, with Joakim Soria and Matt Strahm leading the crew with five and a third innings pitched. Herrera has tossed five scoreless. Otherwise it’s been a group effort with even Peter Moylan offering a couple of scoreless frames. And here you thought Moylan was, I dunno, gearing up for the upcoming Brisbane Bandits season. Nope.

The Royals are still not, in my view anyway, a lock to make the postseason. It’s a a crowded field right now. They’re seven and a half back in the AL Central and four back in the Wild Card with a bunch of teams in front of them. But they’re certainly playing themselves back into the conversation. They’re interesting. And they’re doing it in much the same way they’ve done it the past two years. Only with different dudes doing the do.

Video: Mookie Betts made a ridiculous throw last night

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Mookie Betts was an infielder once upon a time and the knock on him both then and since his move to the outfield was that maybe his arm was not fantastic. As an infielder there was talk that he was better suited to the right side than the left. As an outfielder people were saying that, with work, his arm could be average and/or serviceable. Not bad, of course, but not anything to write home about.

Maybe we need to reassess that, because last night he uncorked one from right field that would make Dwight Evans says “dang, man.”

 

And the throw mattered, as Kiermaier represented the tying run in a game that, at the time, the Sox were leading 2-1.

Betts is a dangerous middle-of-the-order bat at age 23. And now he shows that he’ll nail a fast runner with a frozen rope if he has to. The guy is going to win an MVP award some day. And maybe not just one.