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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Wellemeyer named Pitcher of the Month

One year after release, hurler goes 4-0 with 2.19 ERA in May
ST. LOUIS -- When the Cardinals picked up Todd Wellemeyer off waivers on May 15, 2007, they could not have known what they were getting. They might have had an idea of how good Wellemeyer was, but likely not the level he has pitched at this year.

Based on his achievements in May, the media voted Wellemeyer as the National League Pitcher of the Month.

"I never thought I would get that," Wellemeyer said.

What the Cardinals got in Wellemeyer was a man who has put it all together through the first two months of this season. At 6-1 on the year, Wellemeyer has arguably had the best season of any starter in the Cardinals' rotation.

Wellemeyer owned hitters over the past month, going 4-0 in six starts with a 2.19 ERA. In only one outing -- his first start of the month -- he was unable to go six innings. Wellemeyer gave up only 28 hits in 37 innings, while striking out 12 batters and walking 12.

In honor of his achievement, Wellemeyer will receive a specially designed trophy and a flat screen TV.

"A little more pumped about that," Wellemeyer joked when told about his new TV.

Drafted in the fourth round by the Cubs in 2000, Wellemeyer lasted three years with Chicago in the Majors before stops in Florida, Kansas City and ultimately St. Louis.

Last year, Wellemeyer began the year to a slow start with the Royals but began to see success with the Cardinals. In 2007, Wellemeyer went 3-2 with a 3.11 ERA for the Cardinals.

Having consistent work is what has propelled Wellemeyer to the next level, he said -- just going out and pitching gets him in a groove.

Before he joined the Cardinals, Wellemeyer showed flashes of what his ability, but not for long stretches of time. Now, mainly relying on his fastball and slider, Wellemeyer has become a force within the National League.

"It's really an achievement when you think about him," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "It's really a neat story."

Wellemeyer beat out six other players to win the award. Astros closer Jose Valverde (1-0, 1.20 ERA, 10 saves), Reds starter Edinson Volquez (3-2, 1.63 ERA, 50 strikeouts), Braves starter Tim Hudson (4-1, 2.25 ERA, 31 strikeouts), Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley (3-0, 2.45 ERA, 23 strikeouts) and Cubs starters Carlos Zambrano (3-0, 2.45 ERA, 23 strikeouts) and Ryan Dempster (3-2, 2.35 ERA, 41 strikeouts).

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