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Wellemeyer in Relief

by LS Murphy

The St. Louis Cardinals may have seen the last start from Todd Wellemeyer in their 11-6 win over the Florida Marlins on September 14th. But will he move to the bullpen in relief and is this the best suited position for him as the club prepares to entire the post-season? Yes, I believe it is.

Wellemeyer was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the fourth round of 2000 and made his major league debut on May 15th, 2003. After bouncing around for several years, it appeared that Wellemeyer finally found a home in St. Louis in 2007. He recorded his best season in 2008 going 13-9 with a 3.71 ERA. In May of 2008, he won pitcher of the month.

Unfortunately, something happened between the end of the 08 season and the beginning of 2009. His velocity diminished and his location disappeared. To date, his ERA is 5.89 and he was moved to the bullpen after a stint on the DL. Due to John Smoltz's sore shoulder and Kyle Lohse's never ending arm issues, Wellemeyer was given a chance to start, a chance to prove he could do it. And he did do it, for an inning at least.

The first inning of the night wasn't exactly picturesque but he got himself out of trouble. After giving up a lead off single to Chris Coghlan, Wellemeyer got Nick Johnson to fly out to center. Then he threw a wild pitch to Hanley Ramirez allowing Coughlin to move to second and into scoring position. Hanley Ramirez, currently the NL leader in average at .360, went down swinging. A ground out by Jorge Cantu ended the first inning.

It went downhill from there with Wellemeyer giving up a run in the second and in the third before surrendering four more in the 4th, his final inning of work.

But in the first inning, he worked and, like so many other pitchers, got himself out of trouble. He knew it was his chance to prove he could still contribute as a starter and maybe the nerves and the pressure caused him to throw that one wild pitch. It is easier to do your job if it is secure than it is to audition for it. Once Wellemeyer moves to the pen, he will know what he has to do to get the job done. No more auditions.

As of today, Smoltz appears to be the bet possible option for the fourth slot in the starting rotation. Kyle Lohse's arm, injured or not, is too iffy to give him the ball in the post-season. And Wellemeyer appears best suited to a one inning role in relief.

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Cardinals Mix blog featured writers LS Murphy,Brian F. Logush
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