By Coley Ward
The Post-Dispatch's Joe Strauss today reports that there is growing concern about the work of closer Jason Isringhausen, who has already blown five save chances this year. After his most recent blow-up, Izzy said he is sick of embarrassing himself and hurting the team. He suggested a meeting today with manager Tony La Russa, pitching coach Dave Duncan and general manager John Mozeliak to find at least a temporary alternative to using him in the ninth inning.
In the short term, Ryan Franklin or Randy Flores could be called on to close games for the Cards, though neither pitcher strikes out many batters. Ron Villone currently has an ERA under 1.00 and is averaging almost one strikeout per inning, but the last time he finished a season with an ERA under 4.00 was 1997. Still, he might prove a capable option while Izzy works to get his groove back.
If Isringhausen can't correct his mechanics, St. Louis could be in the market for a closer come July. Closers who could be available include George Sherrill, Matt Capps, Chad Cordero and Huston Street (who has had his own struggles of late). Joakim Soria seems a logical trade candidate, though there is talk he could be converted to a starter.