Take Five - with Dave Duncan

The Cardinals are 11-7 and the bullpen has a lot to do with that winning record, in spite of what you may have been hearing.

This week, I "Take Five" with St. Louis Cardinals Pitching Coach, Dave Duncan and we talk about a few members of his bullpen.

Based on research by the Society of American Baseball Research, their research indicates that pitching coach Dave Duncan is the second longest tenured pitching coach all-time in the Major Leagues as he begins his 27th season as a pitching coach. His 27 years of service is second to only Galen Cisco's 28 years as a major league pitching coach. Here is another record, a St. Louis Cardinal will be breaking.

The bottom line is, you want to talk about the Cardinals bullpen, you go straight to the coach.



Wainwright earned a spot in the Cardinals' bullpen after coming into spring as one of the candidates for the fifth spot in the starting rotation. He made one start in spring training, on 3/16 vs. BAL (4.0 IP, 2R, 0ER). Early on it was clear that Adam would likely make the club as a member of the bullpen. Pitching basically in relief all of spring training, he gave up just one earned run in 15.2 IP (0.57 ERA).

He continued to impress as the regular season began. He pitched 7.2 scoreless innings before giving up a home run against the Reds, last Sunday.

His last couple of outings have been very effective. On April the 9th, Wainwright retired five straight batters in Chicago over 1.2 innings. He followed up on the 13th and tossed three scoreless innings against the Brewers.


RM: Adam Wainwright doesn't look like the last guy you would add to your roster does he?

DD: No, we knew that he was capable of pitching up here. We didn't know for sure how he would pitch out of relief, we thought that there might be some adjustment period for him but he's fell right into the role.

RM: I noticed on Saturday that Wainwright pitched inside very effectively, leading to two strikeouts in the one inning he pitched. Does his command surprise you?

DD: He can command the ball on both sides of the plate. That has been his strong both the command of all of his pitches.



Braden pitched two scoreless innings on Saturday and looked very impressive from where I was sitting. In my opinion, he looked more confident than I had seen him this season.

Signed to a three year deal back on December the 15th, there was some concerns that the Cardinals may have paid too much and signed to long of a deal for a reliever that was coming back off of arthroscopy surgery in October to clean out the arthritic AC joint in his right shoulder.

Looper struggled in spring training, allowing runs in four of his 10 outings, picking up three losses along the way. He finished the exhibition schedule with a 8.38 ERA and a record of 1-3 in 9.2 innings pitched.

I was surprised that the Cardinals didn't keep Braden in Florida for extended spring training. I have had conversations with Braden, Cardinals' Manager Tony La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan, and the consensus seems to be, that Braden is healthy and he just needs to pitch to get back where he needs to be.

He's made six appearances in the past 12 days, so he is definitely getting his work in.


RM: Coach, Looper comes in and pitches two scoreless innings on Saturday. How is your confidence in Looper now?

DD: I think he is getting there. He made a lot of good pitches Saturday, his ball was down for the most part, he got the ball in on the right-handers when he needed to and he got his split-finger over the plate.

RM: When Braden was signed, I had heard that one thing that Braden needed to do to be successful was that he needed to pitch more inside, is there anything to that?

DD: He has trouble getting the ball in on left-handers. He lets the ball get up in the strike zone too much.

Of course that will get you in trouble. But at this point, it looks like Looper is coming around and should be able to fill the role as the primary setup man for Jason Isringhausen. Clearly he is gaining confidence with each outing.




The left-hander reliever, Ricardo Rincon had a rough outing Tuesday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates, in a game where the Cardinals seem to be trying to extend him past facing just one batter. (he pitched 1.1 innings) Typically you expect him to pitch to one or two batters. While he has picked up two holds so far this season and his numbers are less than impressive, with a record of 0-0 with no saves and a bloated 10.80, it should be noted, he has allowed only one of six inherited runners to score and he has retired five of the six first batters he has faced. Telling me, that when used as you would think he would be, that he is still very effective, so you can throw out these early numbers.


RM: When you signed Rincon, I basically thought of him as a replacement for Ray King. Where he would be a lefty specialist coming in and getting that one or two left-handers out. This past week I've noticed you guys seem to be try to stretch or expand his role. He's faced a few right-handed batters in Pittsburgh, pitching the 1.1 innings, though it seemed a little longer, he gave up two earned runs on five hits. Do you see him pitching more this season, than just getting a key left-handed hitter out?

DD: Sometimes you need more than one hitter. We want him to get in the mental frame of mind where if we need him to pitch an inning he can pitch an inning, if he has to face righties and lefties, he has to do that.

We hope that during the season he will become capable of pitching more than to just a single batter and pitch an inning if we need him.




After an impressive spring training where Jason didn't allow an earned run in 10 games (9.1 IP), allowing just one unearned run to score after the first batter reached base on an error in a game against Florida. Jason has made things interesting to start the regular season.

He has five saves in six opportunities, but going into Saturday's game he had only retired three of the seven first batters he faced and he had allowed two of the three inherited runners to score.


RM: How is Izzy doing now after a rough start?

DD: Izzy is right there, he is right on the verge of being where he wants to be.


On Saturday Jason picked up his fifth save, pitching a scoreless inning of relief and he looked more comfortable on the mound then he has so far during the regular season.

Izzy always seems to make it interesting, but he has a track record of success. Last season Isringhausen's 39 saves, tied for fifth in the National League and it was his sixth straight season with 20+ saves. He's currently ranked second on the Cardinals All-Time saves list with a 145, 15 shy of Lee Smith's 160 saves. There is no reason to suggest that Izzy won't past Smith this season. Look for another 30+ saves, if Jason can stay healthy.


RM: Coach, how do you feel about your staff over all?

DD: We think we are a pitching strong team, so are guys are not doing anything that they don't expect to do.


Going into yesterday's game the Cardinals Bullpen was 2-3 with a 3.95 ERA with 11 holds. Granted they were just 4-for-7, in save opportunities, but this bullpen seems to be coming around and should live up to the early high expectations that management and the fans had, going into this season.


The Cardinal Nation Top Stories