Discussion

St. Louis' unique bullpen philosophy

Updated: October 19, 2011, 11:31 AM ET
By Buster Olney

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals have a strong bullpen, but they do not have a closer. Not in the traditional sense, anyway, with someone anointed as The Closer.

Tony La Russa has managed great closers in the past, from Dennis Eckersley to Jason Isringhausen, but he has chosen this year to refrain from bestowing the title of The Closer on anyone since Ryan Franklin lost that job in April.

Lately, La Russa has been consistent in choosing Jason Motte to be the guy who gets the ball when the Cardinals have a lead late in games. But he won't refer to Motte as his closer now, just as he refused to call Fernando Salas the closer, even during the stretch when Salas regularly pitched the ninth inning and racked up 24 saves for St. Louis.

It's not the matter of a superstition. It's about La Russa trying to foster a culture in his bullpen, and Motte and others have bought in. Nobody comes to Motte before a game and gives him a heads up that he'll be expected to get the ball in the ninth inning, Motte said. The St. Louis relievers go into the game preparing to pitch when needed.

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