NL Central Preview: Starting Pitcher #4

While Chris Carpenter and Kyle Lohse, one pitcher I’ve talked about and one I haven’t yet, receive glowing reviews from the media and curse words from their teammates, I move on to Starting Pitcher #4

The Cardinals’ #4 is Jake Westbrook. A pitcher that the Cardinals had long been pursuing and ultimately received as part of the three-team trade that sent Ryan Ludwick to San Diego. It was a much needed trade for the Cardinals as they needed to stabilize their starting rotation, but it didn’t have its desired effect as the Cardinals began their free fall shortly after.

Let’s get to it!

6. Bud Norris, Houston (4.92, 9-10 in 27 starts)
Or “Cy Norris” as he gets referred to by Cardinals fans and also spawned a brief “Bud Norris Facts” similar to those of Chuck because of his dominance over the Cardinals. While Bud has found success difficult to find against all teams, he is 5-1 in a 2.27 ERA in 6 starts against the Cardinals.  Norris’ mainstream stats declined from 2009 to 2010, but his ‘peripheral stats’ such as K/9, HR/9, WHIP all improved. That provides Houston some hope as we move into his third season in 2011.

5. Ross Ohlendorf, Pittsburgh (4.07, 1-11 in 21 starts)
Despite being 1-11, Ohlendorf’s ERA was pretty good, so who knows exactly what the story was.  His 2009 season was fairly solid as well, a slightly better ERA while going 11-10. Ohlendorf was fairly successful through his minor league career, but he’s going to have to put up some numbers if he wants to continue to stick around with a major league team.

4. Homer Bailey, Cincinnati (4.46, 4-3 in 19 starts)
When you read about Homer Bailey you think he needs to hurry up and figure things out because he has had four relatively mediocre seasons, far from what was expected from him when he was called up in 2007. Then you look at Bailey’s age and you realize he’s still just 24.  He spent most of 2009 bouncing between Cincinnati and Louisville before making the team in 2010. However, he spent a good deal of the season on the disabled list due to injury before coming back just after mid-season. It was probably overall his best season. The key will be for him to keep improving.

3. Carlos Silva, Chicago (4.22, 10-6 in 21 starts)
Glad I checked. I originally had Gorzelanny as the Cubs’ #4 starter, but come to find out that he was dealt a month ago to Washington. So up goes Carlos Silva to the #4 spot. Dealt for the problem child Milton Bradley it was an exchange for headaches for Seattle and Chicago. Bradley was becoming an issue and Silva had not done anything worthwhile in his two years in Seattle. Silva returned to post a decent season in 2010, but struggled most of the second half with shoulder issues. Is he over them or will they return will be a major factor for the Cubs in 2011.

2. Jake Westbrook, St. Louis (4.22, 10-11 in 33 starts between Cleveland and St. Louis)
The former Cleveland pitcher was in the middle of his comeback season with Cleveland after having Tommy John surgery when he was traded to the Cardinals mid-season. Despite the 4-4 record in 12 starts, Westbrook pitched much better, as his 3.48 ERA will attest. Can the same Westbrook return in 2011? That’s a good question, there’s really no reason that he can’t. Cardinal fans appreciated his statements he made when he signed his new contract with the Cardinals for probably less than he could have made if he’d stuck around in free agency longer. But he wanted to be a Cardinal, and as he said $17.5 million is still a lot of money where he’s from.

1. Randy Wolf, Milwaukee (4.17, 13-12 in 34 starts)
The lefty turned a successful 2009 into a three year deal in Milwaukee, where he was less successful in 2010. While the 34 year old Wolf has bounced around a bit, he has been exceptionally solid as a pitcher. Average, yes, but solid. That’s really what you want out of a #4 starter for Milwaukee, where he was probably listed much higher on the rotation list last year. Perhaps being the #4 will take some of the stress off of him with the additions of Marcum and Grienke and allow him to return to 2009 form. I know Milwaukee would love him to.

The points:

Milwaukee — 55 pts
St. Louis — 52 pts
Cincinnati — 46 pts
Chicago — 41 pts
Pittsburgh — 29 pts
Houston — 29 pts