MILWAUKEE -- With his 12-pitch appearance on Friday, Cardinals reliever Jordan Walden became the Majors' first reliever to appear in his 11th game this year. He did so within the team's first 15 games, too, which raises the question of whether the Cardinals are growing concerned about potential early-season overuse.
Manager Mike Matheny said that, for now, the answer is largely a no. He noted that Walden has had an adequate number of days off -- some built into the schedule, others determined by the club after multiple days of work -- to justify the continued calls.
"I'd like to give all of them more rest, but once again this is where we are right now," Matheny added. "The days where they feel good… and there have been a number of days where I told him he can go down there in his tennis shoes because he's not pitching. [It's all] just depending on how the work has been and what he feels like."
Walden is on pace to appear in 119 games, which, of course, will never happen. His work will have to be held back at some point, as he entered the year never having made more than 62 appearances in a season.
He has been called upon with such frequency mostly because of how many close games the Cardinals have played. Entering Saturday, two of the team's 15 games had been decided by more than three runs, and as the setup man, Walden has therefore found himself involved almost daily. He led the Majors with seven holds.
And to Matheny's point about building in days off, Walden has yet to pitch on three consecutive days. He has, however, pitched in back-to-back games four different times and has logged seven outings over the past 10 days.
Even with the high usage, Walden has delivered strong results. Over 9 1/3 innings entering Saturday, he had allowed one run, while striking out 11 and walking four.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB and like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.