One-tenth of the way into the season, the Cardinals seem to have their first crisis.
Is 38-year-old right-hander Ryan Franklin, who has blown four saves in five opportunities, still good enough to be their closer? Or should he be moved to a setup role for a while and somebody else, like young right-hander Mitchell Boggs, be tried in the role?
Franklin, who had 27 saves in 29 chances last year after ending the previous season with a rough September, might have lost a little confidence in himself and that can't be good for anyone.
"It's just frustrating for me," Franklin said. "It's frustrating for everybody else when we lose because I'm not doing my job."
After Sunday's 2-1 loss at Los Angeles when Franklin served up his third home run in 4 2/3 innings, a two-run shot by Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp in the bottom of the ninth, manager Tony La Russa wasn't tipping his hand.
However, pitching coach Dave Duncan said: "I'm sure we'll talk about what's best for our team and what's best for (Franklin). Any time you're put in a situation that a closer is put in ... any time you don't succeed a high percentage of the time, it's real easy for it to affect you.
"Once, you can blow it off. Twice, you can blow it off. If it happens more than that, it's really difficult for that not to affect you."
Boggs, whose spring got off to a slow start when he suffered a lower back injury which kept him out nearly two weeks, has struck out 12 in nine innings, giving up only three hits and two runs.
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