Just a couple of quick thoughts on Mike Matheny on a Tuesday morning.
Mike Matheny has taken heat for some decisions lately, including in this ESPN Insider column by Paul Swydan. I think the criticisms of Matheny, especially in close games, are fair. They also lead to an interesting fork in the road the rest of this season.
I have heard a lot of people discount the close game struggles by predicting the team will figure them out, and the performance will normalize. In reality, I think that assumes that the issues that are costing the Cardinals close games will remedy themselves.
That is a leap of faith.
The issues that are costing that Cardinals close games (as Swydan points out, chiefly bullpen and bench usage) cannot solve themselves as long as Mike Matheny continues to manage the way he has over the course of this season.
Matheny is the one making (or not making, in the case of the bench) the decisions that dictate the matchups and situations during the course of a game. While I understand that Matheny is still learning on the job, that process will continue the rest of this year.
Even as more pieces are added to the bullpen and bench as rosters are expanded, I have to believe that Matheny’s decision making process will remain consistent, and the results will follow suit.
In an ideal world, the addition of Michael Wacha (and perhaps eventually Carlos Martinez) to your bullpen should give you more options for high-leverage situations. In a practical world, I’m not sure it will.