Monday, April 22, 2013

Can Edward Mujica succeed as the Cardinals closer?

It appears that, with Mitchell Boggs' struggles continuing last night (0.1 IP, 4 ER) and the Cardinals not ready to turn the reigns over to rookie Trevor Rosenthal, who has struggled too, Edward Mujica is the Cards closer, as least for now.

But can he succeed in that role?

Mujica has been nothing short of spectacular in his short career with the Cardinals.  Since being acquired from the Marlins last July for Zack Cox, Mujica has posted a 1.10 ERA in 32.2 IP, with an incredible 28/4 BB/K ratio. 

After struggling with home runs early in his career, Mujica has reinvented himself the last few years, relying more on a sinking fastball to go with his splitter/change, which has increased his ground ball rate from 39% in 2009 to 50.5% last year. 

As a result, his HR/9 has dropped from 1.81 in 2010 to below 1.0 the last two years.

So, he appears to have the tools to succeed, but does he have the "closer mentality" to succeed?

If Thursday's game is any indication, then I think the answer is a resounding yes.

After coming into the game with two on in the bottom of the 8th, Mujica struck out Laynce Nix to end the inning.  Then, after giving up consecutive hits to put runners on first and third with no one out in the 9th, Mujica induced Kevin Frandsen to ground out, with the infield in, before striking out Jimmy Rollins and ending the inning with a Freddy Galvis groundout.

That's two pressure situations in consecutive innings from which Mujica was able to escape unscathed.

Thus, while the Cardinals continue to look for ways to shore up the rest of their bullpen, it appears that the closer role will belong to Mujica and, if the early results are any indication, he should hold the job for a while.

1 comment:

  1. Am I missing something, or has Joe Kelly fallen from grace? He has appeared in only 3 games (I think, including last night) and then only for a brief period. Last night he faced one batter. How and why did he fall from contending for the 5th starter spot to barely pitching at all? I know he hasn't been spectacular, but neither has Boggs, yet he continues to show up in the games. Please help me understand.