Friday, October 27, 2006

Yup, This Was Izzy's Fault

So despite the fact that this Cardinals team wasn't very good, and that they should have been swept by the Padres, and the Mets, and the Tigers, they've just won the World Series. Blame it on the rain -- or just on the Tigers' refusal to throw balls into the gloves of Sean Casey and Brandon Inge. It's been tough out here in Columbia watching Cards fans who had given up on this team back in August and September return louder than ever, pretending as though that late-season collapse never happened. Everyone around these parts always says that Cards fans are the most loyal in baseball, and I think it's safe to say that after watching this season, it's pretty obvious that Cards fans aren't as loyal as they think.

That being said, I don't think the Cardinals won the World Series because they were so great offensively (Pujols only hit .200), and I don't think the Tigers lost exclusively because of their defensive mistakes. No, I can only blame this World Series championship on one person:

Jason Isringhausen.

At the end of the season, Cards fans were a wreck when Izzy came into close games. He was frequently wild, finishing the year with an ERA of 3.55 and a mediocre WHIP of 1.457. He was the anchor of a below-average bullpen, and that said something.

But when Izzy got hurt, it opened the door for Adam Wainwright to close games. Wainwright responded this postseason in tremdendous fashion. In five save opportunities, he had four saves (and he got the win after blowing the one save). He pitched 9.2 innings, allowing only seven hits (opposing teams hit .194 against him). He had a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 15-to-2. He did not allow a run. In the process, he became the star of the Cardinals bullpen.

Those 9.2 innings would have gone to Isringhausen had he been healthy, and based off of his 2006 regular season, he probably would have blown at least one or two saves this postseason had he pitched. A blown save against the Mets would have changed the series. A blown save against the Tigers would have sent the series back to Detroit. But with his absence, the Cards were able to find their closer of the future (or maybe even a starter) and avoid the chaos that came whenever Isringhausen took the mound.

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