Ryan Franklin was one of the game’s premier closers just a season ago. But what changed? How did the St. Louis Cardinals closer go from saving 29 games in 2010, to blowing consecutive games leading to his release in 2011? As fans watched in agonizing disappointment, baseball experts were left scratching their heads to find out what Franklin was suddenly doing wrong.
It all started when Franklin made his first appearance of 2011. He came into the game in the bottom of the 9th inning, and blew it. A blown save is possibly the most frustrating end to a game possible, which emphasizes the importance of having a quality closer to seal the game. From there, it all spiraled out of control, suddenly it seemed like Franklin could not enter a game without giving up a home run or getting into a jam. After giving up nine home runs in 27.2 innings, and posting an 8.46 era, the Cardinals finally decided it was enough, and released him.
Franklin’s struggles could be a result of multiple factors. The 38 year old reliever may have been simply held down by his age. Maybe his veteran presence was no longer enough, allowing youthful, exciting players to take advantage of his lagging pitching. Some baseball experts speculate that he may have been tipping his pitches. Pitch tipping has been known to result in horrible seasons for veteran pitchers in the past, as professional hitters are oftentimes trained to look for tells such as flared gloves and extra fingers to determine in advance the next pitch.
While Franklin was a fairly reliable closer for St. Louis for several years, his abilities rapidly declined. He went from being an all-star to a free agent with no home. Some of the St. Louis staff believes he was homesick and missed his family. Whatever the problem or problems were, Ryan Franklin mysteriously went from being a brilliant lock down closer to being embarrassingly released.