Five things about the Marlins Series

The Cardinals closed out a sweep of the Marlins last night to go to 6-0 on the road trip as they head home to take on the Chicago Cubs. They do so with a one game lead in the NL Central. They are 19-14 and on pace to win 93 games this season. Suddenly my 92 win prediction is not looking so unobtainable.

The Cubs meanwhile find themselves in fourth place in the NL Central, 2.5 games out of first place after getting swept by the Yankees and then losing two of three to the Rockies. They have not been getting the same kind of pitching performances that they got from their rotation and their defense has struggled a little bit as well.

For the Cardinals this is an opportunity to see if their success over the last couple weeks has been the result of poor opponents or whether they can continue their stand against a team that is supposed to be the class of the division.

Give me more Sierra

Magneuris Sierra is hitting .353 over the first four games of his career. He has been on base 8 times. And come around to score on 7 of them. It’s been a pretty amazing start for the guy who a week ago was playing in Single-A. He is a small glimpse at the future, and it’s pretty exciting. He can apparently hit, he can run, he can field, and he has good instincts. It will eventually come to an end when the league starts to figure him out, but I am willing to enjoy it while it lasts.

My favorite part about watching Sierra play has been that the moment has never seemed too big for him. He hasn’t looked outmatched or out of place. Something I imagine it would be easy to give in to in his situation.

His performance has also given the Cardinals the opportunity to take it slowly with Dexter Fowler, rather than push him back into service. That ability could pay dividends down the road for this team. He is 2-for-3 with 3 RBI in pinch hitting appearances since he was cleared to swing a bat. Drove in the game winning run on Tuesday night and a go-ahead run on Wednesday night. So he’s making an impact when he gets the opportunity.

Not a fireman

It was a role that Seth Maness and Matthew Bowman both excelled in over the past few seasons, coming in when another pitcher got in trouble and put out the fire. Over the offseason, the Cardinals signed Brett Cecil to a 4 year, $30 million contract and it feels a lot like Mike Matheny has been trying to justify that contract by pushing Cecil into high pressure situations. And Cecil has not come through for him.

Cecil has inherited 16 runners this season and allowed 9 of them to score, good for 56%. Only two other Cardinals relievers have inherited more than three baserunners this season. Bowman has allowed just 2-of-11 to score and Seung-hwan Oh has allowed just 1-of-5 to score. Early in this season, Cecil has been the worst reliever with runners on base and he just keeps getting opportunities.

Cecil is currently tied for the third most inherited runners in baseball this season and of relievers who have more than 10, Cecil has the 5th worst rate of keeping them from scoring. Bowman, for example, has the 7th best. Over the past few years, Cecil is fairly middle of the road when it comes to allowing inherited runners to score so he has nowhere to go but up, theoretically.

Now, I’m sure that Cecil will have the numbers at the end of the season to demonstrate that he was a quality reliever, which means that his overall effectiveness for the Cardinals will come down to one thing: role. And finding the proper role for a relief pitcher has not been one of the manager’s strong suits.

But Cecil should probably not see anything other a clean inning for awhile. For the sake of my sanity, please?

Leave no man on base!

During the Marlins series, Cardinals’ #3 hitter Matt Carpenter left nobody on base. That’s right. Every time he came to the plate with men on, he reached base himself. He may have only had two RBI in the series on a triple that scored Carlos Martinez and Kolten Wong, but the other three times he came to the plate with runners on, he took a walk to load the bases.

If you’ve been around Redbird Dugout for awhile, you know that I like looking at RBI rate. In that department, Carpenter currently leads the team, driving in 25% of runners on base when he comes to the plate. The next closest position player on the team is Stephen Piscotty at 17%. The next closest healthy position player on the team is Matt Adams at 16%.

Carpenter has long been one of the Cardinals’ best at driving in base runners, and it’s one of the reasons why moving him back in the lineup, was one of the best changes the organization could make to their offense this winter.

Take a walk

Something that I noticed while working on this was that in the 8th inning of Tuesday night’s game with runners on second and third and a 13 game hit streak on the line in what would finally be his final at bat of the night, Kolten Wong kept his approach, stayed patient at the plate and took four straight pitches for a walk.

He would get another at bat in the 9th, but came up empty, ending his streak at 13 games. Over those 13 games he hit .353/.441/.510 with 6 doubles and a triple. He scored 10 runs and drove in 5 as he hit well enough to take over the leadoff spot with Dexter Fowler out of the lineup.

He has hit just .179 while batting leadoff over the past six games, but it didn’t seem to be an issue as the Cardinals went 6-0.

It’s been awhile

The Cardinals have now spent four days alone atop the NL Central this season after having spent none there last season.

Bonus: Win a pair of tickets to Pitch Talks

Pitch Talks is happening in St. Louis at Delmar Hall on May 18, 2017. In attendance will be plenty of writers who cover the St. Louis sports and the Cardinals specifically. Tara Wellman, who you may know if you’ve clicked on any of her Bird Seeds video blogs (and if you haven’t, you should!), is having a contest to give away a pair of tickets to the event.

All you have to do to enter is go to her most recent post over on her blog at CardsConclave and leave a comment with your all-time favorite baseball tale. That’s it! Easy, right? So do it!

Cardinals release RHP Mitch Harris

RHP Mitch Harris announced this morning that he has been released by the St. Louis Cardinals with a post on Instagram. The team confirmed it later in the day.

Today was my last day as a St. Louis Cardinal. I couldn’t be more proud of the time I’ve spent with this organization. They believed in my when others didn’t. They provided me the opportunity to fulfill my dream and to that I say thank you! Today marks the end of my time with the Cardinals but the beginning to another journey. I don’t know what God’s plan is but I know I’m excited for it. Thank you Cardinal Nation for your unending support! Thank you to the coaches for pushing me to become the pitcher they knew I could be. Thank you most of all to my teammates. I’ll cherish all our time together and most importantly our friendships. It was an honor to wear the “birds on the bat” … Thank you!

Mitch
Aka LT

Harris, 31, was originally drafted by the Cardinals in the 13th round of the 2008 draft out of the United States Naval Academy. Due to his military service commitment and unable to get an early release from his service (as NFL players had been able to do), it would be until 2013 before Harris would see a professional mound for his minor league debut. Yet the Cardinals held onto him.

In 2015, the Cardinals called Harris up and he would make his Major League debut in Milwaukee, allowing two hits, two walks, and striking out one in 1.1 innings of work. When he did that, he became the first Naval Academy graduate to pitch in the Major Leagues since 1921. Harris would spend three cups of coffee with the the Cardinals that year, posting a 3.67 ERA and 1.59 WHIP over 27 innings of work.

He would arrive to camp in 2016 as one of the players in the running for a bullpen spot, but arm soreness would derail his spring. In June he opted to have “UCL reconstruction,” a procedure pioneered by Dr. George Paletta and also undergone by former Cardinals’ teammate Seth Maness. Maness has 1.50 ERA in 6 innings for the Royals triple-A affiliate this season.

Harris would throw two innings in spring training and start the season on the disabled list as he worked to regain strength. He would also make two appearances this season for Memphis between disabled list trips, most recent being a 1-2-3 inning on April 16th.

When he was informed of his release, he was preparing to take another bullpen session as he worked towards returning to the mound. He told the Post-Dispatch that he is one to two weeks from being back to game ready.

Five things about the Braves Series

The Cardinals completed their second series sweep of the season as they outscored the Braves 21-7 over the three games, including a 10-0 curb stomping in the series opener. At 16-14, this is the first time this season the Cardinals have been able to stay above .500 for back-to-back games.

As a result, they find themselves second in the NL Central, half a game behind the Cincinnati Reds and half a game ahead of the Chicago Cubs. The Cardinals have gone 13-5 since returning home on April 17th after getting swept in new York City.

They will head to Miami tonight for a three game set. The Marlins are 13-17 and 3rd place in the NL East. They are a team looking to get back on track as they are 3-10 over their last 13 games.

Insert “Pham-tastic” level cliche here

I’ve already seen at least two since he returned to the big leagues this weekend following the injury to Stephen Piscotty. Tommy Pham was the first guy not on the roster exiting spring training and he had hit well in Memphis to start the season, but that was nothing to the show he put on this weekend.

Pham would hit a double in his first at bat this season and then add a home run in his second. He’d wrap up the series going 6-for-12 with a double, three home runs, and five RBI, including the game winning home run in the 14th inning last night.

It was good to see him hit the ground running in his return to the big leagues. I was hopeful that he’d put together a run like he has the last few times he’s come up, but stopped short of it being a foregone conclusion given how he wrapped up 2016. With Piscotty out of the lineup, Pham is playing for an opportunity to stick once he returns.

With Piscotty and Peralta likely due for return over the next couple weeks, it will be interesting to see how long Pham and Magneuris Sierra stick around. The organization has carried an extra pitcher since Peralta went on the DL, so they could change that. Regardless, Pham has made it clear that he intends to do his part to stay.

Don’t sleep on Grichuk

Randal Grichuk hit .353 with a pair of doubles and a pair of stolen bases in this series against the Braves. He had two hits in each of the three games of the series. He’s been a big part of the Cardinals’ current run. Over the last 18 games since their return from that New York sweep, Grichuk is hitting .299/.365/.448 with 8 extra base hits in those 18 games.

The bullpen is coming around

The Cardinals bullpen may still rank 19th overall in baseball with their 4.42 ERA, but over the past two weeks, they have posted a 2.83 ERA which has been the fourth best in baseball.

It was supported by yet another dominant series by the bullpen as they allowed just 1 earned run (thanks Brett Cecil) over 13 innings of work, that’s a 0.69 ERA on a 1.15 WHIP. Kevin Siegrist and Miguel Socolovich had good appearances in the series, which is a positive step for two guys who have struggled a bit this season.

Reviews not made

Twice in yesterday’s game Mike Matheny chose not to review close plays. The first was when Magneuris Sierra was picked off first base after his first Major League hit and the second was a Randal Grichuk attempted steal of third base. In both cases, at least the radio broadcast crew and Twitter seemed to think there was something worth reviewing there.

The Cardinals had the game seemingly firmly in hand with a 4-0 lead, but it makes me wonder if Matheny would have handled that differently had it been a closer game. If he’s letting off the gas because he’s leading by a few runs, that’s a problem. Hopefully he learned his lesson as that four run lead was erased by the Braves just a few innings later.

Four game winners

Lance Lynn and Mike Leake both picked up a win in the series as they won their fourth game of the season in their sixth start. That is the most wins in baseball among pitchers who have started six games. All four pitchers who have won five games this season have seven starts. Lynn will get his first crack at that fifth win Wednesday night against the Marlins in the series finale.

Beyond wins, Leake has been among the leaders in ERA this season, but thanks to his first home run allowed this season, his ERA jumped to 1.79, which is now only good for fifth in baseball. He was otherwise dominant, allowing just 3 hits and 2 walks in 7 innings of work.

Cardinals call up Pham, place Piscotty on DL

The St. Louis Cardinals announced today that they have placed RF Stephen Piscotty on the 10 day disabled list and called up OF Tommy Pham from Memphis. Piscotty was lifted early at the end of the 2nd inning of last night’s game after running out a ground ball and appearing to tweak his hamstring.

We’re still waiting for more information, but Piscotty seemed to indicate to the media last night that he was optimistic that it wasn’t too severe. However, he may still be day-to-day for an indeterminate amount of time right now, even with a minor spasm. This is the advantage of the shorter disabled list. Rather than Piscotty staying active day-to-day and wasting a roster spot. It also keeps him from pushing it to return sooner than he would if he were on the active roster.

The Cardinals will recall Tommy Pham who was hitting .283/.371/.500 with 4 home runs and 19 RBI in 25 games for Memphis this season. He has mostly played right field so far this season.

Pham has proven himself capable of putting together quality stretches in the Majors in the past. After he was recalled on August 27, 2015 to the end of the season, Pham hit .303/.379/.532 with 4 home runs over 39 games with the Cardinals. And then last summer in the month that followed the All STar Break, he hit .263/.359/.550 with 6 home runs in 28 games. Unfortunately he stumbled hard after that, striking out 23 times in 39 plate appearances to finish out the year.

The Cardinals could really use Pham to come up hot and put together one of those stretches for them.

Also pointed out by Wes Keene on Twitter. The Cardinals’ press release was worded as “outfielder Stephen Piscotty (right hamstring strain) have been placed” (emphasis added) indicating that at least the media relations department was prepared for the Cardinals to place two players on the DL this morning.

That other player was Dexter Fowler who left after the third inning with a shoulder injury. The Post-Dispatch is reporting this afternoon that the club hasn’t yet confirmed Dexter Fowler’s diagnosis though the club fears it may be more severe than Piscotty’s.

The club will also likely wait until they know what roster move they will make to correspond to Fowler’s DL trip before making that official.

Five things about the Brewers Series

The Brewers came to town and busted the Cardinals’ win-loss pattern by taking two of the three games of the series. The Cardinals head to Atlanta 13-14 after an 8 game home stand where they went 4-4. It has to be a disappointment for a club that was coming back to town having won six of the previous seven games and looking to put a run together. Each of their four losses were winnable, losing three of the games by one run and another by two. Two of those losses came in extra innings.

The Cardinals now head to Atlanta for three games and then Miami for three games, before returning to St. Louis to face the Cubs again. They are currently 2.5 games behind the Cubs and need to play well over the next week to keep within striking distance. It was during the first two months of the season that the Cubs put the pedal down and walked away with the division last season. The Cardinals can’t afford to let that happen again.

Here are my five things.

Wong just continues to rake

Last night Kolten Wong had his first three hit game of the season and flashed all his tools. He stole a base, bunted for a hit, and flashed the glove. His slash line so far this season is up to .303/.398/.500.

Since the Cardinals committed to Wong at second base after they came home from being swept in New York, Wong has hit .388/.474/.653 with 6 doubles, 2 triples, and a home run. He has 9 RBI to go along with 9 runs scored.

FOX Sports Midwest did a pregame bit with Wong and Mike Matheny about their relationship and how it’s improved over the last little bit, which has potentially provided Kolten more confidence to play aggressively and we’re now seeing it. In his fourth at bat last night he got out, but as my UCB Podcast co-host Kevin Reynolds put it, he was practically drooling at the plate.

His defense needs to be cleaned up. He was ripped pretty hard following an error in the 10th inning of Monday night’s game, but he had driven in the tying run in the bottom of the 8th. Without him they would have lost in 9 instead of 10 innings. But regardless, he’s put up a -3.6 UZR in 203 defensive innings at second base so far this season. He was a +7.1 UZR in 635 defensive innings last season, so it’s important to remember that his defensive play so far this season is uncharacteristic.

Injury strikes

It may not have been Star Wars Night, but that Star Wars “May the Fourth be with you” mojo was in full effect as both Stephen Piscotty and Dexter Fowler exited last night’s game early. Piscotty exited the game with an apparent hamstring injury while running out a ground ball in the bottom of the second. Fowler would exit after the third inning.

It forced some interesting defensive alignment as Aledmys Diaz made his professional debut in left field. It went uneventfully for him. No awkward dives to be found.

It’s trouble for the Cardinals if these guys are out for any real length of time. Fowler had just recently turned the corner and was beginning to hit and while Piscotty was still searching, he is expected to be a big part of this club’s offensive attack. Now it seems like the organization will be turning to Tommy Pham, who was lifted from tonight’s game in Memphis and is likely on his way to Atlanta to catch up with the team while they figure out what they need to do.

Pham is hitting .283 with 4 home runs and 19 RBI in 25 games for Memphis so far this season. He’s also had stretches where he’s done stuff like that in the Majors as well, like in September 2015 and over the summer of 2016. However he’s also gone through stretches where he’s been unable to put the ball in play on a regular basis.

But with his future cloudy, this may be the opportunity that Pham has been waiting for to prove he can stick and stay healthy. Both have been easier said than done for the 29 year old outfielder.

The Cardinals are also sending Jhonny Peralta out on a rehab assignment to Palm Beach. Matheny says he will play third base and shortstop to help him get his at bats in. But there seems to also be some undercurrent that he could see time in left field, a position he did play a little bit in his final season with the Tigers.

Wain-still-not-wright

He’ll reinvent his game when the hitters tell him it’s time. Well, it might be time. Once again, Adam Wainwright put together a decent start… except for that one inning. His last time out it was a four run spot in the fifth inning against Toronto. Tonight it was a three run spot in the third as he gave back the three runs the Cardinals clawed out in the bottom of the second.

Two starts ago against these same Brewers he gave us his best start of the season, allowing just 2 earned runs over 5 innings of work with no walks and nine strikeouts. But the Brewers were ready for him this time. In five innings last night, Wainwright allowed four runs on 10 hits and three walks.

Through six starts he has a 6.30 ERA, which is a slight improvement over the 6.68 ERA he had after six starts last year. But he was clearly showing signs of going in the right direction last year. This year he is battling for each and every out in every inning. That’s just not a recipe for success.

Worries about Bowman?

Early this season Matthew Bowman was the unhittable man out in the bullpen, and about the only guy out there capable of getting consistent outs. That led to a lot of work, but Mike Matheny managed to keep him from working back-to-back days on a regular basis. He actually only did that twice, and the first time it was just for one batter and he threw three pitches and got the out.

But now Bowman has had some struggles lately. His once perfect ERA is now up to 3.95 as he has allowed six earned runs in his past four appearances. It’s the first time he’s allowed runs in three out of any four appearances in his big league career. And just the third time he’s allowed runs in back-to-back appearances as well.

Whether being used too much (14 appearances, 12.1 innings in April) or just rust tonight (hasn’t pitched in four days), it’s something to keep an eye on.

Rain, rain, go away!

The rain delayed Wednesday night’s game to give the Cardinals yet another doubleheader. This makes four Cardinals games that have been cancelled by rain this season. I can’t remember another season having so many games impacted by rain, especially in this short a span of time. There’s been lots of rain and flooding in eastern Missouri, so there are more important problems than baseball, but I think everyone can agree that they could use a break from the rain in St. Louis.

Bonus: Second time is a charm

I pointed this out on Twitter earlier and it might have made a larger piece if Fowler hadn’t have gotten hurt. But after his two RBI triple in the second inning, Dexter Fowler increased his batting average in his second AB of a game to .400 with an .860 slugging percentage. He is down to .160 in his first at bat of a game.

Column: What does a Lance Lynn extension look like and should the Cardinals do it?

In recent weeks I’ve seen questions both in Derrick Goold’s weekly chat and Jenifer Langosch’s inbox feature about whether the Cardinals should entertain Lance Lynn’s interest in discussing an extension that would keep him in St. Louis beyond the 2017 season. In Goold’s chat, it was framed as whether, with all the young arms coming through the system, should they keep him? It’s a question that will likely consume John Mozeliak’s mind this summer as he considers how far he’s willing to go to bring Lynn back to St. Louis.

Derrick’s answer to that question was a resounding yes, because he can provide “known quantity innings.” His point primarily being that Lynn can go out there and throw 210 good innings in 2018 while you will most likely need an assortment of those young pitchers to fill those innings without him. There is a great deal of value in that, not just in having Lynn throw 200+ good innings, but being able to use those good young arms in other roles.

I agree with that and we’ll get into the why and what that looks like shortly. But I think Lynn is one of those players that’s easy to carry a biased opinion around on because of what you think about him from the start. Early in his career he was an emotional guy that was at risk of falling apart if things didn’t go his way. But more recently, he has matured into one of the best pitchers in the league.

The stats bear this out, since 2014, among starting pitchers who have thrown at least 400 innings, Lynn has been the 11th best pitcher in baseball by ERA+. He is tied right there with Madison Bumgarner.

Since he joined the Cardinals’ rotation in 2012, Lynn has 63 wins, good for 22nd most in baseball. Despite your opinions on pitcher wins, they are still a good thing to get. And that’s number is even with a missed season. Give him another 15 wins and Lynn is 6th. You give him 20 and he’s 2nd.

And through five starts this season, Lynn has a 2.45 ERA over 29.1 innings pitched along with a 1.09 WHIP. That’s his best start since 2012, his first full year in the rotation.

I feel like the fact he has come back as strong as ever following Tommy John is equal parts impressive and surprising. Even though he’s a few months further out than Adam Wainwright was in 2012, I still cringe when thinking about Wainwright’s start to that season. I cringe the same way thinking about Alex Reyes’ eventual return in 2018.

But I find it interesting that Lynn is even willing to talk extension with the Cardinals.

Before the 2015 season when he signed his current 3 year, $22 million deal, it seemed like a signal that he was going to go to free agency. At that point he had three arbitration years remaining and the deal only bought out those years. He left security and some guaranteed money on the table by not giving them any free agency years. Lynn was going to be 30 years old when he hit free agency and it was going to be one of his only chances to cash in with a big deal.

After Stephen Piscotty’s extension was announced, Lynn was asked about his contract situation. He said he hoped that the Cardinals would engage him in talks over the summer once he’s had a chance to prove himself healthy. It seemed like a change of heart. But perhaps not completely since free agent years when they start next year cost much more than free agent years when they start three years down the road.

In my opinion, Lynn has the numbers to be regarded as one of the top-15 pitchers in baseball. If he puts together a solid 2017 season and continues that, it should bring big money in a free agent period that sees himself and Jake Arrieta as the two main pitching targets.

To get an idea, we need to look at recent deals. Unfortunately, we have to go back to the 2015-16 offseason to find any kind of true comparisons because there just wasn’t anyone remotely close to Lynn’s age and abilities in last year’s free agency pool.

Jordan Zimmermann signed a 5 year, $110 million deal with the Tigers coming off a year where he went 13-10 with a 3.66 ERA and threw 202 innings with a 108 ERA+. At 29 years old, he was three years away from being a 19 game winner and just a season removed from a career year.

Johnny Cueto signed a 6 year, $130 million deal with the Giants coming off a year where he went 11-13 with a 3.44 ERA and threw 212 innings with a 118 ERA+. At 29, he was a year removed from a season he won 20 games and threw 244 innings.

Zack Greinke, the other comparison I’m bringing in, signed the mother of all pitching deals, scoring a 6 year, $206.5 million deal with the Diamondbacks coming off an unfathomably good 2015 season where he went 19-3 with a 1.66 ERA and threw 223 innings with a league leading 222 ERA+.

Given the start we’ve gotten out of Lynn, I think it’s fair to consider that he will put up something on par with his best seasons. Let’s use an average of the 2014-15 seasons. That puts Lynn at 14-10 with a 2.87 ERA and throwing 190 innings at a 131 ERA+.

That’s better than Zimmermann. That’s better than Cueto. That’s on par with what Carlos Martinez has done the past two seasons and we’re ready to annoint him the Cardinals’ ace.

So I think something north of what Zimmermann and Cueto got is a good target for what he is likely to get, especially given that it’s been a couple years, the 2015-16 offseason was littered with quality pitcher and the 2016-17 offseason was not. I think 5 years, $125 million or 6 years, $140 million is a good market target for what Lynn should expect to be able to get on the open market.

Knowing that, should this be an investment that the Cardinals make? In my opinion, they can’t afford to let him walk.

Yes, it’s true the Cardinals have plenty of well regarded pitching prospects in their minor league system right now. Luke Weaver, Jack Flaherty, Austin Gomber, Sandy Alcantara, and I’m sure more whose names I don’t have on the top of my head. Even Reyes will be back at some point next year, but the rotation is in a fragile position.

Lynn is a free agent after 2017, Wainwright is a free agent after 2018, Michael Wacha is a free agent after 2019, Mike Leake could be a free agent after 2020, and Martinez could be after 2021. It won’t happen, but the Cardinals could turnover their entire rotation in five years. That’s a big ask of any organization’s minor league system.

Consider that if you let Lynn walk and Wainwright continues to struggle into 2018, how do you fill those innings? Let’s consider that maybe Wacha can’t escape his recurring stress injury. That’s three starting pitchers the Cardinals would need to produce in three seasons.

Obviously you can pencil Alex Reyes into one of those spots eventually, but I think it’s premature to expect him to be ready to contribute in the big league rotation in 2018. Wainwright wasn’t ready in 13 months. Marco Gonzales is just about 13 months out now and is getting ready to return to the mound. And he’s more of a crafty lefty than a 100 mph power pitcher like Reyes.

So the question of who fills Lynn’s shoes is very much open next season. And you could bet on depth, but with the questions coming up going forward, I think you commit to Lynn and Martinez to anchor this Cardinals’ rotation long-term.

I know many who would argue that they should go to free agency with Lynn and pursue Arrieta instead. But once you get to free agency, there’s no guarantee you can get a deal done and you might end up with neither of them. And given Mozeliak’s history in free agency, that’s a possibility.

If you can get a deal done with Lynn before the season is over, I think you do it. How does the old saying go? A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush?

Lynn has proven himself to be a very capable pitcher and I imagine that every team in baseball would like to have him in their rotation. So lock him up this summer and move on filling your team’s other needs. Like third base, even though Jedd Gyorko is playing out of his mind right now.

Cardinals recall Tuivailala, place Lyons back on DL

The St. Louis Cardinals have placed LHP Tyler Lyons on the 10 day disabled list for a right intercostal strain. They have called up RHP Sam Tuivailala to take his place in the bullpen.

Lyons started the season on the disabled list as he worked towards returning from offseason knee surgery. He returned on April 20th and made two appearances, throwing 3 innings and allowing 1 earned run. His latest outing, last night saw him pitch a scoreless 7th inning right before the Cardinals launched a comeback to force the game into extra innings.

Three innings in two weeks is apparently enough as he will now hit the DL again with the muscle strain.

In his place, the Cardinals have recalled Tuivailala who most recently was up in the big leagues as the 26th man for the team’s doubleheader against the Blue Jays but was unused. He started the season on the big league roster due to the injury to Trevor Rosenthal. He has made three appearances and allowed 1 earned run over 3 innings pitched.

Tuivailala has made 7 appearances for the Memphis Redbirds so far this season and has yet to allow a run in 8.1 innings of work.

Five things about the Reds Series

Thanks to some rain, the St. Louis Cardinals had a brief two game series at home against the Cincinnati Reds, splitting the series. The Cardinals now welcome the Milwaukee Brewers for another four game series. The Cardinals enter that series in second place in the NL Central, a game behind the Chicago Cubs.

Through 24 games, they are 12-12 and a game out of first place. Last year after 24 games, they were 12-12 and six games out of first place. So already an improvement, I guess.

Here’s my five things.

How about Gyorko?

While I may disagree with Mike Matheny’s decision to move Jedd Gyorko to the fourth spot in the order, you can’t disagree with Gyorko’s results at the plate so far this year. He went 4-for-8 in the series with a home run. At this point in the year, Gyorko has the 8th most WAR among position players.

Gyorko has four home runs on the year and has yet to hit anything more than a solo shot. Over the past year and change as a Cardinal, he has hit 34 home runs driven in just 33 base runners (RBI minus himself). If he wants to stick at cleanup, he’s going to have to figure that out.

Molina is still the man

Don’t nap on the basepaths or Yadier Molina will catch you. Just ask Jurickson Profar. And now Eugenio Suarez too. An explanation doesn’t do it justice, you have to see it to believe it.

Starting pitching continues to excel

Lance Lynn may not have been pleased that he lasted only six innings and got into a jam, but the starting pitching continued to be solid against the Reds. Lynn allowed one earned run over 6 innings and Mike Leake did the same. It continues a good run to open up the season for the best starting rotation in baseball.

With his six innings, Lynn lowered his ERA to 2.45 and continued his best start since his first full season in the rotation back in 2012.

And while Leake’s ERA rose to 1.35, it continues to be the league best mark.

“Bat” Adams: Pinch hitter

Matt Adams pinch hit twice in this series and hit a sacrifice fly in his first appearance and then singled in his second. He excelled in that role last year for the Cardinals, going 12-for-37 with 3 home runs and 13 RBI, and it would be beneficial for everyone if he was on the verge of figuring it out again.

Adams has 4 hits in his last four at bats, a pair of doubles, and three RBI. He’s hit .500 over the Cardinals’ last 10 games.

The pattern continues

With a win in the series opener and a loss in the second game of the series, the Cardinals continued their three win, one loss pattern. Now they’ll put that to the test tonight against the Brewers.