ST. LOUIS -- It's a dilemma that any manager would envy, but a dilemma, nonetheless, for manager Mike Matheny. His starting rotation has been so strong that he has been left trying to find ways to get some of his relievers enough regular work.
"That's a nice problem to have this many games in," he noted on Saturday. "Nobody is complaining."
The only National League rotation to log more innings than St. Louis' rotation through 20 games is Philadelphia's, a testament to how deep into games the starters are pitching. That has allowed Matheny not only to avoid any overuse of his bullpen, but has also let him keep his relievers in their prescribed roles.
Fernando Salas leads the staff with 11 appearances, though he has only logged eight innings. No one else in the 'pen has appeared in more than eight games. On the low end is lefty J.C. Romero, who made his sixth appearance of the year on Friday.
Designated to be the team's primary left-on-left reliever in the middle innings, Romero has regularly watched the starters pitch long enough that the only lefty Matheny has needed is his setup man, Marc Rzepczynski.
"We tried a couple different spots to get him in [the last series in] Chicago and we don't necessarily want him to go that long in between [outings]," Matheny said of Romero, who had a week layoff before Friday's outing. "It's a nice problem to have, but a lot of times J.C. is getting the short end of that. But when he's gone out, J.C. has done a nice job for us."
Romero has not allowed a run this year.