05/14/2013 8:15 PM ET
Pitch count a case-by-case issue for Matheny
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- Mike Matheny has not been shy in pushing his starting pitchers deeper into their pitch counts than he did in his first season as Cardinals manager. And never has that been more evident than on Monday, when he had Lance Lynn throw 124 pitches -- a career high for Lynn and the most by a Cardinals starter since Chris Carpenter threw 132 in a start on June 29, 2011.
Lynn was steadfastly unconcerned about the workload afterward and actually employed a bit of hyperbole when asked about how much is too much when it comes to workload.
"For me, pitch count has never been an issue my whole life," he said. "I would never put a ceiling on it. If they told me I could go out and throw 150 if the situation called for it, I would. And I don't think I would have any issues doing it."
The club, of course, is not about to test Lynn's ambitious theory. For as the Cardinals are exploring this season, there is a delicate balance between allowing a pitcher to stay in a game when he still appears strong and risking future ineffectiveness or injury by pushing a pitcher too deep, too often.
When considering pitch count effects, it's important to remember that not all pitch counts are created equal. Different pitchers tire at different points in a start. And how hard a pitcher labors to get to a certain number of pitches is also a factor in how much wear and tear the workload will cause.
"I think definitely on this team we see certain guys get to a certain pitch count and you start to see certain trends," Matheny said. "Some guys get better as they go, and I think yesterday was an example of Lance doing that. Not that we're going to run him into the 120s every time he goes out there, but he's shown that he can make pitches when he gets to that level. There are other people that struggle when they get to the mid-90s."
In 19 of the team's first 37 games, the Cardinals have had their starter throw at least 100 pitches. At this point last season, that had happened 11 times. Only 10 times in all of 2012 did the Cardinals push a starting pitcher to a pitch count of 110. They have already matched that total this year.
Lynn became the second Cardinals starter in three days to throw 120 pitches.
"[Monday] was really the first day we really stretched somebody, and a lot of people say that 120 is really not a number to be concerned about," Matheny said. "Lance has been there many times, especially through his Minor League career. It's something he can handle. If we see something early that we don't like, it doesn't matter if it's on pitch 20 or 120, we've got to respond more to what we see and how they feel and the information they give us back. We watch these guys pretty close and see them enough to know when there are little issues, hopefully before they become big issues."
Wigginton seeks ways to maximize contributions
ST. LOUIS -- On paper, Ty Wigginton's biggest contribution since signing with the Cardinals came on Monday, when he doubled and then alertly scored the go-ahead run from second on a ball that made it no further than a few dozen feet from home plate.
To term that as Wigginton's primary impact on the Cardinals' season, though, would be short-sighted.
Matt Adams and Shane Robinson are among those who have publicly praised Wigginton for the guidance he has given them as they fill part-time playing roles. Wigginton, who is also adjusting to reduced playing time, said that he has made it a point to approach veteran bench players on opposing teams to pick their brains on what it takes to be successful in that role.
All the information he gleans is then passed along to his teammates.
"I think he's done a real nice job of being that veteran presence that we'd hope he would be," manager Mike Matheny said. "We talked to him when he first came in and he's stepped up. He helps a lot of these young players - not just the bench guys, but some of these guys who are playing every day. He's just a good teammate … and in the meanwhile, he's trying to do his part to contribute."
On the field, Wigginton has been limited to 24 at-bats, 14 of which have come as a pinch-hitter. He has five hits, two of which have come in his last two plate appearances.
"I knew the role coming in," Wigginton said. "Just show up every day ready. The thing about baseball is that every day truly is a new day, and [you] just prepare yourself each and every day. Obviously there are challenges in keeping your timing, trying to get some rhythm. But fortunately we have [hitting coach John] Mabry here, who really helps out in that aspect and [assistant hitting coach] Bengie [Molina]. They've been great keeping us ready. It's fun. It's a new challenge."
Boggs showing signs of progress at Triple-A
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals have not explicitly stated what it will take for Mitchell Boggs to earn his spot back in the St. Louis bullpen. But the right-hander -- who has not allowed a run in five relief appearances since being demoted -- appears to be moving closer to forcing the organization to make a decision on his placement.
Boggs tossed his most recent scoreless inning on Monday, working around a walk in an 18-pitch frame. He has allowed three hits, walked two and struck out four in his five Triple-A innings. He is, though, still working through some efficiency troubles, as three of Boggs' five innings have required at least 20 pitches.
Manager Mike Matheny, who said he has been in touch with Boggs since sending the right-hander out, said that he has been encouraged by both the results and the process behind them.
"It sounds like he has made a couple of good mechanical adjustments," Matheny said. "The reports from the people who have been seeing him is that it looks like he is in a real good spot. He's an established Major League player, so it's not an easy assignment. It seems like he is happy with how he's progressed. It's still yet to be seen how this all plays out, but he's going about this the right way."
• With a three-hit game for Triple-A Memphis on Tuesday, infielder Ryan Jackson upped his season average to .372. Jackson's strong season start hasn't gone unnoticed by the parent club, either, as Jackson would be among the first infielders considered for a promotion should a need arise at the Major League level.
"He really took a great attitude with him when he was sent down," manager Mike Matheny said of Jackson, who has played second, third and short for Memphis this year. "He realizes he's right there. Where Pete Kozma was a year ago, he's even ahead of that in the fact that he's taking real advantage of the opportunity he has there. He's done a real good job."
• Right-hander Boone Whiting picked up a win in his Triple-A debut on Tuesday. Whiting, who was promoted to take John Gast's place in the Memphis rotation, scattered three hits and two walks over five innings. He allowed one run and threw 42 of his 72 pitches for strikes.
• In an afternoon ceremony at Busch Stadium on Tuesday, Cardinals Care, the philanthropic arm of the organization, handed out more than $114,000 in grants to 57 area non-profit groups that support children. Since Cardinals Care was established in 1997, it has provided more than $19 million in grants, donations and projects to help children.
• Cardinals Care will honor Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter on Wednesday as it dedicates a youth ball field at Jackson Park (Berkeley, Mo.) in his name. Chris Carpenter Field will be the home field for 180 boys and girls involved in Berkeley's Redbird Rookies program.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.