The St. Louis Cardinals took two out of three against the Chicago Cubs over the weekend, but their division lead still stands at a game, now over the Milwaukee Brewers. Their record now stands at 21-15, on pace for 94 wins.
The Cardinals now wait for the Boston Red Sox to come to town for two games on Tuesday and Wednesday for a rematch of the 2004 and 2013 World Series teams. The Red Sox won both series.
Cecil is not getting right
Brett Cecil threw 0.1 innings of work in this series, allowing a home run that ultimately proved to be the difference maker between a loss and taking the game to extra innings. Cecil allowed that home run to left handed batter Tommy La Stella, who had hit just 4 home runs over 209 MLB games and never against a left handed pitcher.
At this point Cecil has appeared in 20 games for the Cardinals and has a 5.79 ERA and 1.92 WHIP. He has allowed a run in each of his last four appearances and hasn’t had a clean inning (no runs, no hits, no walks) since April 28th, seven appearances ago.
He’s on pace for 90 appearances this season, which brings some question of whether recent troubles have been as a result of overuse.
Bottom line is that Cecil should be relegated to cleanup duty until he demonstrates that he can capably get batters out on a regular basis. He does not need to be seeing a close game.
Earlier this season, Mike Matheny talked about how “we need to play (Cecil) to get him right.” And his appearance on Friday night got me thinking, is Matheny saying that they need to play a player to “get him right” a kiss of death? I recall him saying that specifically about Mark Ellis, Mitchell Boggs, and Trevor Rosenthal through all of his struggles. At least in Rosenthal’s case, it was actually rest that corrected him as he had been pitching through an injury. He may have said that about Allen Craig too.
All this to say, Matheny should really stop saying that they need to play a guy to “get him right” because it does not have a very good track record.
Other than Cecil tho
The Cardinals’ bullpen not named Brett Cecil threw 7 innings in the Cubs series and allowed just two baserunners. One was a walk by Jonathan Broxton on Friday night and the other a hit off Seung-hwan Oh on Saturday afternoon.
At this point in the season, Cecil, Broxton, and Miguel Socolovich are the only three relievers in the Cardinals’ bullpen who have turned in below league average performances this year.
Dexter Fowler may have gone 0-for-4 in his two starts and a pinch hit appearance in the series, but he also reached based a team high five times in the series (tied with Randal Grichuk), taking two walks in the series opener and another three walks on Saturday.
By taking a walk to lead off the game on Saturday, Fowler reached base to lead off a game for the first time since April 27th. He is batting .154 with a .214 on base percentage to open a game.
Wainwright turns in best start of the year
Adam Wainwright seemed to have found some of his old mojo and shut down the Cubs over 7 innings on just 4 hits and 4 walks while striking out 3 on Sunday while the Cardinals powered to a 5-0 victory to win the series. Wainwright also got his ERA on the season below 6. It was his best start of the season so far, but that bar wasn’t that high.
On May 18th last season in his 9th start of the season, Wainwright went 6.2 scoreless innings in his best start of the season up that point and brought his ERA below 6. That was the beginning of Wainwright posting a 2.84 ERA over his next 14 starts while the Cardinals went 10-4.
One can hope that this is the beginning of another such run.
Carpenter finally finds success against Arrieta
It’s often talked about how Matt Carpenter and Jake Arrieta are college friends from their time at TCU. Entering Sunday’s game, Carpenter was 0-for-28 in the regular season against Arrieta, but Arrieta made a mistake and the result was a 2 run home run. Carpenter will carry a 12 game on base streak into the series against Boston.
Bonus: Cards the best in baseball?
The Cardinals are 8-2 in their last 10 games and 15-5 in their last 20 games, both are the best mark in baseball.