St. Louis Cardinals closer Edward Mujica is third in the NL with 36 saves, 10 behind leader Craig Kimbrel of the Atlanta Braves. But are batters nervous when they have to face him? It’s probable that Cardinals fans are more nervous than any opposing batters when Mujica comes in to close a game.
Mujica was acquired at the trade deadline in 2012 from the Miami Marlins for Minor League prospect Zack Cox. Cardinals fans thought, “we picked up WHO?” They quickly got to know him, though, as he became the seventh-inning man and stabilized a shaky bullpen.
This year, Mujica had to step up again when reigning closer Jason Motte had to have Tommy John surgery during spring training, and the Mitchell Boggs experiment blew up in the team’s face. It was such a relief that he was actually getting saves! Who cared that he sometimes gave up hits and runs?
Now that the Cardinals are nearing postseason play, though, fingernails are being bitten down to the quick and hair is turning gray in St. Louis over the way Mujica sometimes closes out games. There was the game last week against the Milwaukee Brewers. Mujica entered in the ninth with the Cardinals up 4-0. He promptly gave up a double and a home run. Logan Schafer‘s homer was his fourth of the year and second off Mujica.
On Friday night, the game was tied 1-1 in the top of ninth when Mujica allowed two singles, both of which were negated by Yadier Molina. The Seattle Mariners seemed to have thought Molina was still absent from the team, otherwise why try to steal twice against him? Mujica was the beneficiary of some reverse “Friday the 13th” luck there.
The Cardinals did acquire John Axford, and he has pitched well in his appearances so far. Trevor Rosenthal has been fantastic and could possibly close games if needed. Those are some good backups for when Mujica is scaring Cardinals fans out of their wits.