At 38, Cardinals' Ryan Franklin Loving Life As Closer

As Derrick Goold writes, 38-year-old Ryan Franklin has no retirement plans, having found his niche relatively late in life...

"I think even now there are doubters," said Franklin, who has converted 65 of 72 save opportunities the past two seasons. "There are always going to be doubts because I don't fit that typical-type closer. If I can throw four or five pitches for strikes and keep hitters off balance, what's the difference between that and throwing one fastball at 98 mph? I can throw six of them at six different speeds."

There probably is something to be said for throwing 98, but Franklin's transformation has been dramatic.

 

Before he joined the Cardinals in 2007, Franklin had given up 1.4 home runs per nine innings and his career strikeout-to-walk ratio was 1.7. 

Since joining the Cardinals, those figures are 0.9 and 2.4.

The differences might not seem radically different, but they've been different enough to make Franklin one of the better short relievers in the league.

Still, he has not generally been dominant. He's just been able to do enough every season. In 2007 and '10, his walk rates were incredibly low. In 2009, he gave up only two home runs all season. It's probably 2008 that best exemplifies the real Ryan Franklin, and his ERA that season was 3.55.

He's a good pitcher, but eventually his lack of overpowering stuff is going to catch up with him.

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