Before this season, Edward Mujica had saved just four games. He was an average middle reliever who had bounced around to three teams in five years before arriving in St. Louis last season via a trade with the Marlins.
But with Jason Motte sidelined after Tommy John surgery and Mitchell Boggs struggling, Mujica was thrust into unfamiliar territory as the Cardinals' closer, and he is bringing stability to a beleaguered bullpen.
Since assuming the closer role from Boggs, Mujica has converted all 12 of his save opportunities and has allowed just two earned runs. He also hasn't allowed a batter to reach base in his last five games.
"It's been crazy for me," Mujica said. "When I started the year, they told me I was gonna be in the seventh inning, but, you know, with the whole situation with the bullpen in the beginning, they gave me the ball and I'm just enjoying this time right now as the closer."
Among Mujica's 12 saves, six came in games where the 29-year-old right-hander took the mound in the ninth with just a one-run cushion on the board.
"He's been big, and obviously that's an understatement," said manager Mike Matheny after Friday's 7-6 win over Milwaukee. "He and Yadi are working well together in those tight situations, and I don't think he really addresses his pitch selection or any batters any different with a three-run lead than he does with a one-run lead."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.