I don't know what intimidates some guys about the last three outs of a ballgame.
But, when it comes to Mitchell Boggs, you can see there is a big difference between the way he pitches when he comes in for the eighth inning and how he hurls when he's assigned the ninth.
In the 2012 season when Boggs was a set-up man he managed to retire nearly three times as many hitters by strikeout as he walked. He walked a little bit more than one man every three innings on average. This year, he's walked just shy of one man for every inning he has pitched.
Initially I suspected that he was getting behind hitters and getting creamed. But that's not what the stat splits say.
Boggs' batting average against when the hitter is ahead in the count is actually .000 in 12 plate appearances. When he gets behind, he simply refuses to give in and walks the hitter. When the count is even, batters manage a .200 average against him. Where Boggs is really getting into trouble is when he is ahead in the count and trying to put batters away.
In 15 plate appearance when Boggs has been ahead, opposing hitters are batting .429 against him.
The Cardinals have made a bit of a stir this year by straying from their Tony La Russa/Dave Duncan era mantra of pitching low in the zone and trying to get ground balls instead of strikeouts. Could it be that Boggs is pressing for strikeouts to impress in his new role but that he doesn't quite have the juice to blow away hitters when they know what's coming?
While it's a small sample size, the numbers seem to indicate that Boggs is trying to do things differently than he has in the past. The big righty has 8 strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings. It's the only season in his major league career that he's averaged even close to one strikeout per inning. over his six seasons in MLB, he averages a little better than 2/3 of a strikeout per inning, 225 whiffs in 300 2/3 innings of work.
Boggs has given up only two ground ball hits this season. All the rest of them, six in all, have come on line drives. Batters are hitting .222 against him (2-for-9) on grounders and 1.000 (6-for-6) on line drives. He's retired all six batters who have hit a fly ball against him although one of them hit a sacrifice fly.
Either Boggs is tipping his pitches when he tries to throw a fastball past somebody. Or else he needs to go back to his eighth inning pitching style and try to just get outs, not strikouts.