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Opinion | In a shortened season, Mike Shildt has to show a quicker hook on Cardinals' pitchers

Shildt is a better manager than Mike Matheny and fits the organizational coach profile to a tee, but that doesn't save him from criticism in this frenzy of a season
Credit: AP
St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Roel Ramirez heads to the dugout after giving up four home runs in a row to the Chicago White Sox during the fifth inning of a baseball game Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020, in Chicago. Manager Mike Shildt, (8) and catcher Andrew Knizner wait on the mound for reliever Seth Elledge. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Cardinals lost two games over the past few days due to a manager leaving the pitcher in too long. One outing inside one inning in a tight game got away twice.

It’s no way to lose.

Shildt is a better manager than Mike Matheny and fits the organizational coach profile to a tee, but that doesn't save him from criticism in this frenzy of a season. If you don't make the right moves in a season where you've already lost 17 days and at least two games on the schedule, allowing a pitcher to stick around can be toxic.

First, Roel Ramirez on Sunday against the Chicago White Sox. He gave up four home runs that could have been mistaken for rockets flying out of the South Chicago skyline. It was 1-0 White Sox before he entered the game, and 7-1 afterwards. Leaving Ramirez in after that second blast was not a good idea?

Second, against the Cubs on Monday night, Shildt allowed Tyler Webb to blow up another game. In the entire doubleheader, the left-handed SPECIALIST gave up more earned runs in an inning than any pitcher, while getting the least amount of outs. The Cubs turned a 4-2 Cardinals lead into a 5-4 lead of their own. Game over.

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Two pitchers collected four outs and allowed nine runs in the process. Each time, a casual fan enjoying a Budweiser from his or her couch could tell you the pitcher didn't have it. All Shildt has to do is raise his hand and go to someone else. Instead, two games were lost. When you play 58 games and drop games like this, it's going to hurt in the fall.

I know what you're thinking. Who comes into the rescue? On Sunday, how about Seth Elledge, who looked phenomenal. Monday night, it could have been Nabil Crismatt a little earlier than expected. Go to the next arm and get outs instead of watching the game implode. There are times during the first ten games where Shildt treats a game like spring training.

Look, Shildt has to do some master juggling this season due to the odd makeup of the season and the delay the Cardinals experienced, but he still has a large arsenal of arms to choose from on any given night. There's simply no excuse to allow Ramirez or Webb to struggle through an outing. If there were 150+ games left, the method wouldn't be as mad.

But in a season full of first times and ridiculous schedules, Shildt is going to have to realize that every arm is going to be taxed and used in ways the team didn't intend. Getting creative is paramount, but sticking with a clearly faulty plan during a close game is foolhardy.

Don't read this as a crushing glimpse at Ramirez's methods or Webb's chances, but a hard look at the manager. Shildt does a lot of things right and showed off his wise knowledge in last year's successful campaign. But 2020 is going to test every manager, regardless of what happened in 2018 or 2019.

Let's hope Shildt is up to the task, or this season may be more painful than one would like.