(Updated Dec. 15, 2016)
A dominant bullpen was one of the success stories of the Cardinals’ 2011 postseason, resulting in a World Series championship. To fully appreciate how far the Cardinals’ bullpen progressed, it’s important to look back to where it was on Opening Day in 2011.
_ Of the seven relievers on the Cardinals’ 2011 Opening Day roster, only two, Mitchell Boggs and Jason Motte, remained with the team in the postseason.
_ Five of the Cardinals’ relievers on Opening Day were right-handers Bryan Augenstein, Miguel Batista and Ryan Franklin, and left-handers Trever Miller and Brian Tallet. None remained with the team in the postseason.
_ Opponents batted .367 in 27.2 innngs against Franklin, who opened the season as St. Louis’ closer. Since 1996, the Cardinals’ first season with manager Tony La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan, only one St. Louis pitcher had a higher batting average against in 27 or more innings: Mike Maroth, whom opponents batted .394 against in 38 innings in 2007.
_ The quartet of Augenstein (.407 batting average against in 5.2 innings), Franklin (.367 in 27.2 innings), Miller (.306 in 15.2 innings) and Tallet (.339 in 13 innings) all allowed opponents to bat better than .300 against them in 2011.
_ The 26 blown saves by the 2011 Cardinals during the regular season were the most by any of the nine St. Louis teams to make the postseason since the arrival of La Russa and Duncan.
_ Only three Cardinals teams under La Russa and Duncan qualified for the postseason while failing to successfully convert at least 65 percent of their save opportunities. Those teams: 1996 Cardinals (64 percent, with 43 saves in 67 chances), 2000 Cardinals (63 percent, with 37 saves in 59 chances) and 2011 Cardinals (64 percent, with 47 saves in 73 chances).
_ The trio of Batista, Franklin and Miller had seven blown saves in nine opportunities in 2011, setting a terrible early-season pattern for the Cardinals.
_ Once help arrived for the bullpen, the Cardinals found an effective mix. Six Cardinals relievers held opponents to batting averages of .207 or less during the 2011 regular season: right-handers Eduardo Sanchez (.144 batting average against), Octavio Dotel (.182), Fernando Salas (.186), Motte (.202), Lance Lynn (.203) and left-hander Arthur Rhodes (.207).
_ The trio of Dotel, Salas and Sanchez in 2011 were the first Cardinals to each pitch at least 24 innings and hold opponents to a regular-season batting average of less than .200 since Troy Percival (.171), Jason Isringhausen (.179) and Russ Springer (.181) in 2007.
_ Three Cardinals relievers each pitched at least 22 innings and held opponents to one home run apiece during the regular season: Dotel, left-hander Marc Rzepczynski and Sanchez. To put into perspective how important that was to the bullpen’s turnaround, consider that Franklin yielded nine homers in 27.2 innings and Tallet gave up four homers in 13 innings.