With Rzepczynski gone, Choate only lefty in bullpen

With Rzepczynski gone, Choate only lefty in bullpen

ST. LOUIS -- Mike Matheny has made his preference on bullpen makeup known several times during his two seasons as manager. In an ideal scenario, he has said, he'd prefer to keep two lefties -- but not if it comes at the expense of weakening the 'pen.

The club's decision to option out Marc Rzepczynski on Monday leaves the Cardinals with only one lefty reliever. And that left-hander -- Randy Choate -- is used exclusively as a lefty-on-lefty specialist. In eight relief appearances, Choate has faced only 11 hitters. That is reflective of his narrowly defined role.

Although the Cardinals played the majority of the 2012 season with Rzepczynski as the lone lefty reliever, the current series against the Reds could produce a scenario in which the limited lefty options handcuff Matheny. Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker separates left-handed sluggers Joey Votto and Jay Bruce with the right-handed-hitting Brandon Phillips, meaning Matheny will have to be very particular about when he employs Choate.

General manager John Mozeliak added that the continued deep outings by the starting pitchers made him more comfortable in leaving the bullpen with only one lefty.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.