St. Louis Cardinals pitchers Bud Norris and Greg Holland.

(Jeff Curry/Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports)

An Idea For How The Cardinals Should Be Using Holland, Norris In Late Innings

MLB.com writer Will Leitch laid out his plan on KMOX's Sports Open Line, Monday.

May 01, 2018 - 3:01 pm
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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - After the St. Louis Cardinals were swept by the Pittsbrugh Pirates they went from first place in the NL Central to tied for fourth. That three-game skid came after an eight-game stretch that included splitting two games with the Chicago Cubs, sweeping the Cincinnati Reds and taking two of three against the New York Mets. Now, the Cardinals have to restart its climb to the top. 

True, it's only May 1. And it's only a game and a half deficit. But in more ways than one, the Pittsburgh series took a mental toll on Cardinals fans, as MLB.com columnist Will Leitch explained on Sports Open Line, Monday. 

The Mattoon, Ill. native joined KMOX's Chris Hrabe to talk about how Cardinals nation thought the closer position was finally spoken for with the signing of Greg Holland on MLB's Opening Day. But now, Leitch believes Bud Norris should get his chance in the ninth inning, until Holland can figure out his stuff.

Norris has allowed just three runs in 13.1 innings. He's five-for-five in save opportunities, with two walk and has allowed just one home run. 

Holland – although he had a stretch of four scoreless apperances against Chicago, Cincinnati and New York – has allowed six runs in seven innings of work. It can be argued the Cardinals ninth-inning defense should have done better for him in Friday's blown save, but he allowed runners to reach first and third before there was even a chance to make an out. 

"Norris has just been fantastic," Leitch says. "I would almost rather have seen him in that particular pirates game. To me the eighth inning is the time to bring in Holland, even if you want him to be a closer eventually because he's still easing back, he still didn't have a spring training. Put him in there (in the 8th) then if he has any trouble, you make the move to Norris."

Leitch believes the idea of a having "the guy" or a designated closer isn't the way managers should operate anymore, especially Mike Matheny and the Cardinals:

"If you have a guy like Holland, who the manager has decided is the closer, and therefore even though there are other pitchers that are pitching better, that have better results, even though there are clear signs that when he comes into the game he's not the guy that was in the Mets series, he's just decided that he's the closer."

But sometimes closers have a bad day, one blown start isn't reason enough for a guy to lose his job. But as Leitch explains, Holland hasn't been St. Louis' established closer. 

"This is not like (Trevor) Rosenthal who had pitched with the team for two or three years and they're like sticking with their guy, or Seung-hwan Oh, maybe a little longer and they should have last year, if he had shown with this team that he had done it. Greg Holland showed up on opening day. The idea that he has all these chips from the Cardinals, all this worked up all the stuff that he's done and therefore has earned this spot, I don't really understand why that would be the philosophy."

Do you agree with Leitch, should the Cardinals start using Holland in the eighth inning and let Norris keep closing? Join the conversation on the @KMOXSports Twitter feed.