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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

It is time to appreciate Fernando Salas

As St. Louis Cardinals fans witnessed on Friday night, five of their seven relievers followed starter Kyle Lohse, pitching the seventh through tenth innings.

To open the seventh, all three batters reached against Miguel Batista, two of whom scored. Trever Miller walked his only batter.

Later on, Eduardo Sanchez allowed three baserunners in the ninth, including the tying run. In the tenth, Jason Motte had almost the same line, two hits and a walk. His run allowed was the walkoff game winner for Cincinnati.

In between?

Continuing to work in relative anonymity, Fernando Salas was called upon in what was the most crucial point in the game, in my opinion. There were no outs in the seventh, two runners on base with two having already scored.

Salas not only escaped the jam, stranding the two runners, but also stayed in to throw a scoreless eighth.

The seven members of the current Cardinals bullpen now have an MLB-leading have nine blown saves among them. Sanchez picked up his first on Friday night. Only one St. Louis reliever has not yet blown a save through the first 39 games in 2011 – Fernando Salas.

The relievers have also absorbed eight losses on the season. Only two pen members are yet to be tagged with a loss – Miller and, you guessed it – Salas.

While I am total agreement about when Salas was deployed on Friday, he would not have been used at that point of the game – no matter how crucial it was – had he been tagged with the closer’s label.

Despite not possessing the heat of Boggs and Motte or the slider of Sanchez, I believe Salas has proven he should be deployed in the most crucial situations, regardless of inning.

Motte has been used recently to get out of mid-inning jams. In the table below, you can see that 57 percent of his inherited runners have scored. Only Ryan Franklin and Sanchez, both with very few opportunities, have worse rates on the team.

In terms of retiring the first opposing hitter, Motte has a lower success rate than even Miller, whose troubles in securing outs have been well-documented.

The reliever who has been best at getting his first batter out? That would be none other than Salas.

In summary, Salas is the only Cardinals reliever to not lose a game or blow a save, has been the most proficient at retiring his first batter faced and is among the best at keeping inherited runners from scoring.

Salas rode the Memphis shuttle in 2010, going up and down six different times. When Brian Tallet and Bryan Augenstein are ready to come off the disabled list, this time Salas deserves to stay.

St. Louis Cardinals relievers, through May 13, 2011

Reliever Wins Losses Holds Saves Blown Saves 1st batter ret 1BR % Inh run score IRS %
Fernando Salas 1 0 3 3 0 9/12 75.0% 11/3 27.3%
Trever Miller 0 0 2 1 1 9/17 52.9% 16/2 12.5%
Miguel Batista 2 1 3 0 1 10/15 66.7% 5/2 40.0%
Mitchell Boggs 0 2 1 3 1 12/17 70.6% 6/0 0.0%
Jason Motte 1 1 5 0 1 8/17 47.1% 14/8 57.1%
Eduardo Sanchez 1 1 4 4 1 7/11 63.6% 3/2 66.7%
Ryan Franklin 0 3 0 1 4 7/11 63.6% 4/3 75.0%

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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