Here's the second installment of my Mid-Year Report Card for Birds. This one will focus on the Cardinals' bullpen. Since the meltdown of Jason Isringhausen after a pretty good start, this group has struggled with dependibility and consistency, particularly with the lefties. For the Cards to continue to contend and win the NL Central, this group will need a much better second half performance.
Russ Springer: A- Probably the most consistent of all Cardinal relievers April to June, Springer has provided steady middle relief, with opponents hitting only 0.193 against him. Has shown a good ability to get the first hitter out he faces, but when starting an inning, has allowed to many first batters to reach.
Kyle McClellan: B+ Has stepped up and done some quality work as a rookie. Hasn't been afraid to challenge people and has had an excellent K/BB ratio out of the pen. Has faltered in a couple of games with holding leads, but overall has done a nice job and instilled confidence.
Ryan Franklin: B Thrust into the closer's role when Isringhausen was removed from that role, Franklin has done as well as you can expect from a journeyman that has never been in the role. Has been okay, converting 10 of his first 14 opportunities, but is nowhere near the shutdown closer they need. All in all, has done a solid job.
Chris Perez: C+ Highly touted rookie has done a solid job in his first few MLB appearances. Has walked a few too many and pitched behind in the count too often, but has shown the bulldog mentality of a future closer. It will be interesting to see how he fares after a couple of times around the league, facing the same teams a few times.
Jason Isringhausen D The most visible Cardinal reliever, much has been made of his struggles. A fast start prevents this grade from being lower, but recent work in non-closer games gives some hope for the second half. The Cards need Izzy to return to form to solidify this group in the second half.
Anthony Reyes: D- Another disappointing season for the one-time top prospect. Reyes has had a few decent performances out of the pen, including his first appearance where he struck out the side against Colorado. The rest of his appearance have been just mediocre.
Randy Flores: F Started decently in April, but has been just awful in May and June, surrendering 11 ER in 12.2 innings. Sixteen walks and fourteen K's in 19 innings is not going to get it done.
Ron Villone: F Even worse than Flores, has instilled no confidence in his ability to come in and slam the door against lefthanded hitters. A 5.76 ERA and an opponent BA of .283 say it all.
Next installment will be Infielders/Catchers