Closer duties could flip flop for Cards

Closer duties could flip flop for Cards

PHILADELPHIA -- Ryan Franklin remains the Cardinals' primary closer, as evidenced by his save against the Phillies on Tuesday night. But it's no longer automatic that Franklin is the man in the ninth inning for St. Louis.

Franklin entered the eighth inning of a tie game at home on Saturday, indicating that perhaps Jason Isringhausen would have been the pitcher with a lead in the ninth. Isringhausen did not appear in Tuesday night's game, however, with Kyle McClellan handling setup duties for Franklin.

"You just keep pitching [Isringhausen], and he's going to pitch in critical situations," manager Tony La Russa said. "And you keep evaluating on a game-to-game basis who's available and who should pitch when. What's a timetable for? What's the need for a timetable?"

Isringhausen was placed on the disabled list after a lengthy and deep slump, but since his return to active duty he's pitched very well. It's still considered a matter of time before he is reinstated to his former job. La Russa said Wednesday that while Franklin is the primary ninth-inning pitcher for now, it's not quite as certain as it was a couple of weeks ago.

"What I try to do is look who we're playing against and look as we get into the seventh, eighth and ninth inning and look to see what's the best," La Russa said. "If it looks like there are three hitters that Franklin is better against in the eighth, and Izzy's better in the ninth, I wouldn't hesitate to do that. But as far as automatically holding it for Franklin or Izzy in the ninth, I don't think that's the way our club sets up right now."

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.