JSF Power Rankings: Cardinals Blowout Pitchers
When Tony LaRussa motioned to the bullpen to bring Skip Schumaker to the mound in the 9th inning of last night’s trainwreck, it inducted Skip into the elite class of Cardinals blowout pitchers. Those brave souls who LaRussa has leaned on as a gimmick that, as last night demonstrated, can result in standing ovations despite the team continuing their tumble out of contention. Might as well bring a little joy to the fans who just watched the Dodgers throttle the home team for 8 innings.
Today, rather than rehashing what is becoming a depressing collapse, we looked back through the Tony LaRussa-era box scores to lay out a definitive power rankings of the most notable gimmick pitchers for the Cardinals since Tony took control in 1996:
5.) Aaron Miles (2007, 2008, 2010)
The most frequently used of the blowout gang was Miles, which made it even more ironic when he blasted a two-run homerun off his counterpart last night in the 9th. With five appearances on the mound in three seasons, Miles was the most senior staff member of the crew, logging a career 3.60 ERA.
Frankly, given his stature, we had our doubts that he could get the ball to the plate when he first took the mound. You keep surprising us every year, Aaron.
4.) Cody McKay (2004)
In his illustrious 37 game career, Dave McKay’s son took the hill in 2004 during an 11-5 loss to the Brewers. In two innings, he allowed zero hits and only one walk. Considering that of the seven batters faced, four grounded out, it’s probably safe to say that Dave Duncan gave some serious thought to having him enter the rotation.
We all know that groundball pitchers are the VIP’s in the Cardinals rotation.
3.) Scott Spiezio (2007)
In June 2007, perhaps swayed by his closer-esque facial hair, Tony handed the ball to Scott Spiezio to close out an interleague showdown against Oakland. Spiezio mowed through the A’s lineup, walking only one and the Cardinals cruised to a 14-3 loss.
Given his reputation these days, we can only imagine what was swirling through those veins alongside the adrenaline when Spiezo jogged out to the mound.
2.) Gary Gaetti (1997, 1998)
The Rat pitched two times in his two-year career with the Cardinals. The combined score in those two games was 22-4 in favor of the opponent, so its safe to say that he never fully earned Tony’s confidence as a reliable bullpen arm. He is, however, the only one in this gang to actually drill a batter. Consider the message sent.
1.) Bobby Bonilla (2001)
When the team you’re facing has racked up a double digit lead in an April game, there is no need to call on an actual pitcher to finish things up. If LaRussa could have simply tossed in a towel to end it, he probably would have, instead he sent in Bobby Bonilla for the lone pitching appearance of his 16-year career.
It wasn’t pretty.
Visions of the hits he allowed to Danny Bautista, Greg Colbrunn and the bomb hit by Erubial Durazo probably still float around in Bonilla’s nightmares.