Although RHP Jason Motte did not become the closer for the St. Louis Cardinals until very late in the 2011 season, he quickly became known as one the best closers in the MLB, after his Cardinals won the 2011 World Series. Motte has been a lockdown closer over the last two postseasons with an ERA of 2.08 in 19 appearances.
Motte’s late-season excellence continued into the 2012 season, as he recorded 42 saves with a 2.75 ERA and he also posted career highs in strikeout rate, at 10.75 per nine innings, SO/BB rate, at 5.06 and fastball velocity, at 96.8 mph on average. Motte will turn 31 in June and to see that his fastball velocity is still rising, is very good sign of what to expect for his future.
Motte has had a similar career path to that of Baltimore Orioles closer Jim Johnson. Both pitchers had many ups and downs when first entering the majors as middle relievers and did not become closers until later in their careers.
The key to success for Motte was the effective usage of his fastball; the only year that Motte truly struggled was in 2009, when he had an ERA of 4.76, compared to his career ERA of 2.87. That year his fastball was 4.2 runs below average, however, over the last three seasons Motte’s fastball has been incredibly good, at 36.5 runs above average. Only Kenley Jansen of the Los Angeles Dodgers used his fastball more effectively over that time period, at 41 runs above average.
Motte also possesses a cutter that has been 10 runs above average for his career, but the determining factor for Motte’s success is his fastball. If Motte continues to have one the best fastballs in the MLB, he will have no problem being an effective closer for the Cardinals for years to come.