Mitchell Boggs has gone from taking over for Jason Motte as the Cardinals’ fill-in closer to being demoted to Triple-A.
The final straw came last night, as Boggs walked the only two batters he faced to give him more walks (12) than strikeouts (10) and 31 total baserunners allowed in 10.2 innings overall this season. Last year Boggs threw 73 innings with a 2.21 ERA and he had a combined 3.08 ERA in 201 innings from 2010-2012. Boggs actually went from fill-in closer to Triple-A demotion within the span of three weeks in 2011, although his struggles weren’t nearly as lengthy or pronounced back then.
To take Boggs’ spot on the roster and in the bullpen the Cardinals called up 21-year-old right-hander Carlos Martinez, who’ll be getting his first taste of the big leagues after ranking among the top-50 prospects by both Baseball America and MLB.com heading into the season. Martinez has been a starter throughout his minor-league career, posting a 2.74 ERA and 277 strikeouts in 260 innings, but he’ll be used out of the bullpen initially in St. Louis to give manager Mike Matheny another setup option in front of Edward Mujica and Trevor Rosenthal.
After 18 years, 12 winning seasons, seven postseason runs and three World Championships, Dave Righetti is no longer a pitching coach for the Giants. He was removed from his post on Saturday, when the team announced a few reassignments as they shake up their coaching staff. Heading into the 2018 season, Righetti will serve as special assistant to general manager Bobby Evans, former bullpen coach Mark Gardner will step into a similar special assistant role to “assist in pitching evaluations,” and former assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will take a special assistant role in baseball operations.
According to MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Righetti was the longest-tenured pitching coach in the big leagues. He helped shape the careers of notable Giants’ aces like Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain — all Cy Young contenders (and, in Lincecum’s case, a two-time winner) at various points in their careers. He was there to assist Ryan Vogelsong during his stunning mid-career comeback in San Francisco. He helped newcomers like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach flourish even as the team stumbled to the bottom of the division. He was there to take the credit when a sterling rotation clinched the Giants’ 56-year, drought-snapping championship title in 2010 — and, when things went so horribly south in 2017, he took the blame as well.
Hardly anything went right for the Giants’ pitching staff in 2017. Madison Bumgarner was shelved after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto couldn’t shake a cluster of blisters on his right hand and Mark Melancon found it difficult to justify a $62 million paycheck after pitching through an arm injury to four blown losses/saves and a 4.50 ERA. It would be a lot for any pitching coach to stay on top of, and given the team’s rapid descent from 2016 postseason contenders to last-place finishers in 2017, it’s not surprising that Evans felt the need to switch things up.
Successors have yet to be named for Righetti, Gardner or Decker, though Murray hears that the Giants could have interest in former major league pitching coach Jim Hickey. NBC Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic adds that Evans is searching for someone to “put a new voice” on the pitching staff and will likely target someone who, like Righetti, brings considerable experience to the role.