Yesterday, the St. Louis Cardinals sent down double play specialist, Seth Maness, to AAA Memphis and in turn, called up LHP Dean Kiekhefer.
Coming into the season, the Cardinals Bullpen was supposed to be one of its strengths. And so far, that statement has held true. The acquisition of Seung-hwan Oh has paid off tremendously. Trevor Rosenthal has looked shaky at times but still is holding on to a sub-2 ERA. The saves will come for Rosey at some point (probably when the otherworldly blow outs stop happening). All of the usual suspects are also performing adequately. But one core pitcher has struggled for the majority of the season (or at least when he steps onto the bump). That would be Seth Maness.
Maness has struggled nightly so far in the season. As recently as two days ago, he was pitching batting practice. He has a 6.39 ERA, a sky high walk rate of 2.84/9 and a career low ground ball rate of 52%. Basically, he has been bad. He has never been necessarily lights out (career ERA right around 3.2) but he has always been able to induce ground balls and get the double play when the cardinals needed them. That just hasn’t happened this year.
— Jenifer Langosch (@LangoschMLB) May 14, 2016
This is due to many reasons from diminished velocity (almost 2 mph less than in 2015), reduced ground ball rate (see above), and a high walk rate (again, see above). What Maness needs is innings and he will not get them from the big league club when every win matters more and more every day. With the Cubs turning the Central into a mainly one horse race, the Cardinals cannot afford to let Maness work his issues out during games that count.
Sending down Seth Maness was the right move. Down in AAA, he will more than likely work as a starter in their rotation. This will give him the most IP in the shortest period of time. This will allow for him to fix his mechanics which he has said “just haven’t come together this season” as well as try to bump up that velocity a hair. This would turn a strength of the Cardinals into an unstoppable force if they can reclaim their twin killer.
With the move of Maness, Dean Kiekhefer makes the trip to the the show for the first time in his career. Kiekhefer is primarily a LOOGY but has been known to get righties out from time to time. GM John Mozeliak has stated that Kiekhefer is an “innings eater”, which would work wonders for a Cardinals Pitching staff that cannot consistantly make it past the 6th inning.
All in all, this move will benefit the Cardinals in the here and now but also should help them over the course of the 162 game season. Here’s hoping that Maness can resume is double play ways when he gets back from his trip.