Column: Diagnosing Randal Grichuk

This has to have been a frustrating season for Randal Grichuk on many levels. He gets demoted last year to work on his swing and then comes up and hits .269/.300/.554 with 16 home runs in 70 games and seems to solidify his hold on center field with fielding metrics that allow you to make the case that he is one of the top-10 center fielders in baseball.

Then you find out two months later that your team has signed Dexter Fowler to play center field and move you to left field. And then late in spring training you hear to this crazy idea to try out Matt Adams in left field and that crazy idea turns into a fairly regular thing to open up the season, at least for a little while.

You run into a snag again in May and slump hard and find out the team’s going to send you to the minors to work on your approach and pitch recognition. All the way down to single-A.

So in the span of about six months you’ve been moved from center field by a player you can make the case is worse defensively, you lost your starting left field job to a career first baseman, and then got busted back down to single-A. Ouch.

Yes, I’m aware that Grichuk was sent there specifically to work with Palm Beach’s hitting coach, but the point remains. Single-A still hurts.

Grichuk returned triumphantly on June 25th, batting cleanup against the Pirates where he went 2-for-5 with a home run in the win. And the next night, he batted second against the Reds and went 2-for-5 again, adding another home run. He batted sixth the next two nights against the Diamondbacks and went 0-for-8. Then was back in the second spot for the series finale where he went 3-for-5 with 5 RBI as the Cardinals romped to a 10-4 victory.

That victory would make the Cardinals 11-0 this season when Grichuk starts and bats in the front half of the lineup (4th or higher). Dating back to last season, the Cardinals are 27-7 when Grichuk starts and bats in the front half of the lineup.

This season, we see a completely different Grichuk in the front half of the lineup. He has hit .291/.314/.563 with 3 home runs in those 11 games in the front half this season and just .198/.266/.346 with 4 home runs in 46 games in the back half of the lineup (5th or lower). That’s a stark difference, even for the small sample size.

Common baseball strategy suggests that you see better pitches when you bat higher in the lineup because you have better hitters around you. The last thing a pitcher wants to do is walk you with a good batter coming to the plate. But if you’re in the back half and the next batter is Greg Garcia or Eric Fryer, there is little fear, so there is no need to go after you with the same directness. They can try to make you chase.

And after about a week of compiling data, I’m about as frustrated as he has to be because I can’t find an obvious reason why Grichuk struggles so much.

Sixty percent of the pitches Randal Grichuk has seen this season have been balls, and 37% of those have been down and away. But when I look at some other players, this does not seem to be a ridiculously high figure. In fact, it’s slightly lower than the percentage of balls that Matt Carpenter sees.

But there doesn’t seem to be an enormous difference over the whole season sample as far as how he much opposing pitchers ask him to chase based on lineup position.

So on to pitch mix. And Grichuk actually sees more breaking pitches when hitting in the front of the lineup versus the back. Not what I expected to find. In the back of the lineup he sees more fourseam fastballs, in the front he sees more sinkers. Those are his biggest differences in pitch mix.

However compared to last year, he is seeing more sliders compared to previous seasons. He saw sliders 20.2% of the time in 2015, 20.4% of the time in 2016 and now 21.8% of the time this season. And based on Fangraphs’ Pitch Type Linear Weights, he’s struggling against the slider worse than ever. And the curveball too.

Maybe now we’re getting somewhere, so this is about where I suggest something as simple as he just needs to stop swinging at balls. But he’s actually swinging at fewer pitches than ever before. His overall swing rate is down from 53.9% last year to a career low 50.4% this year. And last year he swung at 39.7% of pitches out of the zone compared to 37.2% this year.

He’s not even fooled by those sliders down and away we all talk about him being a sucker for. Last year he swung and missed on sliders down and away 31% of the time. This year it’s just 25%.

So all this to say that I don’t know what the answer is. Maybe the Cardinals should just tell him to swing away and bet on his talent. It is what got him here and is what put together incredible stretches the past couple seasons.

With the way he has hit in the front half of the lineup this season and the Cardinals’ lack of reliable bats in those lineup spots, I’d think really hard about slotting him in third and betting on his power to make a difference more often than not. Mainly because, even while I can’t find any evidence of it, I think the lineup protection is doing him some good.

Grichuk is one of many players the Cardinals have that needs to develop his plate approach. And that’s not going to change in a day or a month regardless of whether he’s working with Mark Budaska, George Greer or John Mabry.  Aledmys Diaz is in this same boat right now and I expect Paul DeJong will join him at some point. Behind them, Harrison Bader looks like the same kind of player. Enough talent to tantalize in short spurts, but ultimately lacks a plate approach for sustained success.

When I wrote on Tuesday about how the Cardinals should approach Kolten Wong‘s return, I never mentioned Grichuk and suggested Stephen Piscotty as the team’s fourth outfielder. It was intentional.

If the Cardinals are unwilling to let Grichuk bat where he has demonstrated the ability to be successful, they need to send him to Memphis to complete his development. And not call him back up until he’s proven himself ready.

Siegrist gets activated

To complete the roster moves made the other day, the Cardinals will activate left handed pitcher Kevin Siegrist from the 10 day disabled list. The reliever had been on the DL since June 23rd for a cervical spine sprain.

Siegrist had a 4.50 ERA and 1.61 WHIP in 27.1 innings for the Cardinals this season before his disabled list trip this season, including a 4.15 ERA and 1.27 WHIP over his last 10 appearances.

He made a pair of rehab appearances at Double-A Springfield where he pitched 2 innings and allowed 2 runs on 4 hits and a walk.

It had been speculated that left handed reliever Zach Duke would get the call to return today. He had Tommy John surgery last fall and has thrown 5 scoreless outings across three levels of the minors during his rehab stint.

Column: Wong’s pending return brings questions

The Cardinals expect that Kolten Wong will be ready to return to the big leagues on Friday after the All Star break concludes and the team heads to Pittsburgh to begin the second half. That return will bring about some changes to the lineup and undoubtedly scrutiny on how manager Mike Matheny fills out the lineup card.

Too many good players. John Mozeliak might tell you that it’s a “good problem to have,” but it simply creates a number of problems for the Cardinals in the immediate future because the best player is not always playing. Perhaps it would be a good problem to have if decisions were being made purely on performance.

When Wong went on the disabled list for the second time on June 15th he let the team with a .301 batting average and a .393 on base percentage. Before the injury he had certainly done everything he needed to do to have the opportunity to keep his starting job upon his return. But Wong’s injury also set some positional moves in motion.

When he went on the disabled list, Paul DeJong returned after about three days in the minors. He came back talking about how he felt overwhelmed in his first taste and had gotten a good opportunity to catch his breath. He performance demonstrated that it wasn’t just talk. Since June 15th, DeJong has hit .345/.370/.701 with 8 home runs and over the last two weeks has become the Cardinals’ starting shortstop.

With second base now vacated, the Cardinals have slid Matt Carpenter over to open up first base. Since June 15th, Carpenter has hit .230/.422/.405 with 2 home runs in 23 games. He isn’t getting hits, but a walk is almost as good as a single. He has a 24.3% walk rate since June 15th, and his season long 17.5% is tied for second in baseball with Mike Trout. As a lead off guy, that’ll work.

Moving Carpenter has allowed Luke Voit to play regularly at first base and he too has responded by hitting .315/.366/.684 with 3 home runs in 14 games so far this season.

And moving Carpenter to third isn’t a possibility as Jedd Gyorko is batting .311/.407/.581 with 5 home runs since June 15th.

So in Wong’s absence, their four primary infielders have hit a combined .300/.396/.586 while Wong has been gone. It’s hard to say any deserve to take a back seat, but it’s hard to say that to Wong who was hitting .301/.393/.444 when he hit the disabled list.

So who plays where?

Well, DeJong has demonstrated himself to be a satisfactory shortstop. Perhaps it’s just small sample size illusions, but he has a +1 defensive runs saved, +3 saved runs above average, and also a +1.6 UZR. He’s demonstrated more range and a better glove than Aledmys Diaz, but still has work to do on the double play. That’s not too surprising considering he just started playing the position less than a year ago.

Gyorko is a +11 defensive runs saved and a +0.7 UZR.  Both numbers I never would have bet he’d have achieved and I never expected him to duplicate last year’s defensive results, let along better them. With the season he’s had, he would appear to have third base secured at the moment.

Voit has hit well and has enough potential that he has earned an opportunity to play more often than being Carpenter’s backup would allow.

And then there is Carpenter who is the best lead off type hitter the Cardinals have and arguably one of the best lead off hitters in baseball. He has the ability to play multiple positions, which could come in handy. But I’ll get there in a bit.

Yesterday I posted a graphic to Twitter that shows the Cardinals’ wRC+ (weighted Runs Created plus, which is normalized, league-adjusted and park-adjusted and 100 is league average) by position this season. It’s broken down showing both the first half and the last 30 days so we can judge which way it’s trending.

It’s fairly obvious that Yadier Molina isn’t going anywhere, though Mozeliak opened the door on Carson Kelly getting a promotion to share some time with Molina down the stretch, but I have a hard time believing that we will see Kelly in St. Louis before September unless Molina goes into a deep slump.

Shortstop is the next worst position on the list and DeJong is currently outperforming that with a 138 wRC+ in the Majors this season. So I expect they will ride with him there.

That leaves the two corner outfield positions in need of improvement. With Dexter Fowler back in center field, he has a 119 wRC+ this season before his injury, that will slide Tommy Pham and his 136 wRC+ to one of the corner outfield spots. I expect both Fowler and Pham to settle in between 120 and 130 wRC+ this year on the whole.That leaves one of the corner outfield spots open for improvement.

I suggest Carpenter. Unfortunately, the organization is unlikely to ever truly consider it because of Stephen Piscotty‘s extension. Though in my opinion, I feel like that extension actually makes it easier for the Cardinals to tell Piscotty that he’s going to lose some playing time right now because the commitment you’ve made to him guarantees him an opportunity to get it back either next year or once an infielder cools off.

Carpenter has played outfield before, so this isn’t a Matt Adams situation. He played 26 games there over his first few seasons in the Majors. Now, he wasn’t great defensively there in his small sample size, but left field is the least important defensive position and since he’s the lead off man, the opportunity will come often to get his bat out of the game early for a better defensive alignment and still get him four plate appearances in a game.

That would make your defensive alignment as follows,

  • C Yadier Molina
  • 1B Luke Voit
  • 2B Kolten Wong
  • SS Paul DeJong
  • 3B Jedd Gyorko
  • LF Matt Carpenter
  • CF Dexter Fowler
  • RF Tommy Pham

Those are the eight best hitters the Cardinals can put on the field right now and is relatively solid defensively (even if it can be improved by swapping Fowler and Pham).

But the Cardinals could use this lineup and if they can’t find traction over the next two weeks, there’s no point in buying at the deadline because this team will need more help than one or two moves will bring.

Weaver, Mejia optioned; Wong returns

The Cardinals made a handful of roster moves yesterday. First they traded outfielder Todd Cunningham to the Los Angeles Dodgers for cash considerations. Then they optioned right handed pitcher Luke Weaver and infielder Alex Mejia to Memphis. And finally they called up Kolten Wong from his rehab assignment. There will still be one move to be made since this leaves the Cardinals’ active roster at 24 players, but it’s expected that it will be left handed reliever Zach Duke.

Cunningham, 28, was signed to a minor league deal before the season and has hit .270/.401/.400 with 4 home runs in 76 games for Memphis this season. Likely left out in a roster squeeze in Memphis between prospects, this is a minor deal as Cunningham was unlikely to play for the big league club.

Luke Weaver pitched two scoreless appearances in St. Louis during his short cup of coffee as he will return to Memphis where he has a 1.93 ERA and 7-1 record over 11 starts.

Alex Mejia hit .214/.214/.429 with a home run in his brief time with the Cardinals. His playing time tailed off at the end when the Cardinals elected to try Matt Carpenter at second base to get Luke Voit in the lineup, but he will always have July 1st against the Nationals where Mejia single-handedly provided the offense in a 2-1 victory.

This brings Kolten Wong back to the big league roster and into an interesting lineup situation, which I discussed a little in a column today. Wong had a team best .301 batting average and .393 on base percentage when he hit the disabled list in mid-June.

The transactions leave the Cardinals with a 24 man roster and it’s expected that the final spot will go to left handed reliever Zach Duke. Duke was acquired last summer for Charlie Tilson and had a 1.93 ERA over 23.1 innings out of the Cardinals’ bullpen down the stretch. Unfortunately, Duke underwent Tommy John surgery after the season.

Duke has made five rehab appearances in the minors, posting five scoreless innings allowing 3 hits and a walk.

Five things about the Mets Series

The Cardinals took two out of three against the New York Mets to wrap up their first half at 43-45. They are tied for second place with the Chicago Cubs and are 5.5 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers.

After the break, they will play a three game set in Pittsburgh against the Pirates. They hold a 4-2 record this season against the Pirates, but have yet to play them in PNC Park.

DeJong’s historic series

For Paul DeJong, it wasn’t just a great series, it was a historic one. DeJong went 9-for-12 (.750) with four doubles and three home runs in a three game series against the Mets. That made him the first Cardinals’ player in Major League Baseball’s modern era to record 6+ extra base hits in a three game series.

On Saturday afternoon, DeJong went 4-for-4 with three doubles and a home run. That made him just the 7th Cardinals player since 1913 to record three doubles and a home run in the same game.

It puts a nice cap on DeJong’s return to the big leagues as he’s gone from Kolten Wong‘s injury replacement to the starting shortstop while hitting .345/.370/.701 with 8 home runs since returning to the big leagues on June 15th.

Wainwright gets his 10th win

Adam Wainwright allowed one run over 6 2/3 innings on Saturday afternoon to pick up his tenth win of the season. That has many fans scratching their heads since Wainwright has the worst season long numbers in the rotation and that brings the typical roar that pitcher wins are a meaningless statistic.

And while I disagree with they are meaningless, I will go as far as to say that they are greatly overrated. The only reason they aren’t meaningless? The object is to win the game, after all.

Forget pitching decisions, the Cardinals are 11-7 (.611 winning percentage) this season in games that Wainwright starts. No other starting pitcher has a winning team record in games they start. The next closest being Michael Wacha at 8-8. If nothing else, this should tell us that his 5.20 ERA is not the whole story.

In his 10 win decisions this season, Wainwright has a 2.70 ERA. In his five loss decisions this season, Wainwright has a 13.70 ERA. So when Wainwright is good, he’s very good. When Wainwright is bad, he’s very bad with those numbers being buoyed up by a pair of 9 earned run starts where he didn’t make it through four innings in either.

As @StlCrdsfn11 pointed out on Saturday on Twitter, Wainwright has allowed four runs or less in 14 of his starts and two runs or less in 10 of them. That mirrors the results of Carlos Martinez, who we are all ready to crown ace of the rotation.

Lynn makes no mistakes

After a quality start to the season, Lance Lynn has struggled a bit more recently thanks to the long ball. After posting a 2.04 ERA while allowing a home run ever 8.8 innings in his first six starts of the season, Lynn posted a 4.95 ERA while allowing a home run every 3.8 innings in his next eleven starts. He was able to keep the mistakes to a minimum while throwing seven scoreless innings and keeping the Mets in the park.

Pham responds to challenge

With the three Opening Day outfielders back on the Cardinals’ 25 man roster, Tommy Pham is seeing the first real challenge for playing time since his call up in May. He went 3-for-3 with a home run on Sunday afternoon to close out his first half at .299/.386/.510.

When Mike Matheny and the Cardinals dance around how they intend to divvy up playing time in the second half, Pham takes no prisoners in his response. He was asked about it and STL Baseball Weekly wrote about it. Pham is having none of it. He has been the Cardinals’ best outfielder this season and is not afraid to say it.

Brewers leading at the All Star break

The Milwaukee Brewers will lead the NL Central at the All Star Break. They have been in first place at the All Star break four times in their franchise history and half of those times, the Cardinals ended up winning the division. Further, the pattern works.

In 1982 the Cardinals won the World Series. In 2007 they did not. In 2011 they won the World Series. In 2014 they did not. In 2017? Well, the pattern seems to indicate that this is the Cardinals’ year.

Bonus: Electric cars don’t run on home run power

Dexter Fowler returned to the lineup on Friday night, batting third, and hit a home run. It was nice to see in his return to the lineup, but it had more meaning than just that. Here’s why:

https://twitter.com/aliyafowler/status/883495061576708096

He does not seem to be missing this opportunity either, as Aliya added on Saturday that Dexter had registered at Tesla’s website with her name.

Fowler activated as Martinez is optioned

The St. Louis Cardinals announced today that they have activated outfielder Dexter Fowler from the 10 day disabled list today and optioned outfielder Jose Martinez to Memphis to make room for him on the active roster. Fowler is in tonight’s lineup against the New York Mets playing center field and batting third.

Fowler has missed 12 games while on the disabled list for a right heel spur. It disrupted his season just as he appeared to be getting on track. After a slow start that included a few hot streaks, Fowler had finally gotten sustained success, batting .286/.390/.600 with 6 home runs and 19 RBI in 21 games in June before his injury. He was the hottest hitter on the roster when he hit the disabled list.

Because of the play of Tommy Pham in center field while Fowler was out, there had been talk about Fowler playing left field upon his return from a foot injury.

Meanwhile Martinez is heading back to Memphis. Martinez is batting .280/.321/.464 with 5 home runs over 50 games this season as a bench player for the Cardinals. Of the four outfielders on the roster during Fowler’s absence, Martinez has been the best hitting of the four. He has hit .275/.320/.507 since June 1st and had started the past two games, going 3-for-8 with 3 runs scored.

Martinez had options remaining, meaning the club can send him back to Memphis without risk. Greg Garcia, who is hitting .172/.324/.224, does not have any options remaining and therefore stays for now. It creates an interesting roster situation for the Cardinals when Kolten Wong is ready to return potentially later this month.

 

Rumor Check: Josh Donaldson

A couple days ago it was reported by FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi that the St. Louis Cardinals have an interest in Toronto Blue Jays’ third baseman Josh Donaldson, though the two parties have yet to hold any formal trade discussions. This is really an extension on something that the Post-Dispatch’s Derrick Goold has been talking about for a few months now, that the Cardinals had always intended to pursue a third baseman this year and Donaldson was one of the key players on their list that could be available.

Donaldson checks a lot of the boxes of the kind of hitter the Cardinals would like to bring in. Over the past four seasons he’s batting .284/.375/.518 and averaged 33 home runs, 103 RBI, and 7.8 WAR. He’s been the only guy in baseball able to consistently hold a candle to Mike Trout. He’s also been a neutral to slightly above average third baseman defensively.

He is in the final year of a 2 year, $28.65 million deal, but still has one year of arbitration remaining before he will hit free agency after the 2018 season.

There are a few question marks around Donaldson that need to be addressed.

First, he has had a couple injuries this season. He missed time on the disabled list for a right calf injury and then he injured his knee while stretching just a couple weeks ago and since then his performance has dropped off tremendously.

Until the knee injury he had been batting .286/.389/.554, right on par with his recent success. Since it he has hit .140/.275/.209 in 12 games. How long will that take him to come out of?

Second, he is also 31 years old and is a free agent at the end of next season. He will also likely be the highest paid Cardinal in 2018 unless the team ends up bringing back Lance Lynn (which I also support). This can work in the Cardinals’ favor as the return will likely be less than if he was locked up long-term. He should not get an Adam Eaton-esque return.

He will turn 33 years old the winter he hits free agency, so if the Cardinals intended to consider bringing him back at that point, what does that contract look like? How deep are you willing to go to lock him up or are you okay taking the draft pick and pursuing another franchise bat that offseason, which looks like it will feature Manny Machado and Bryce Harper as well.

And third, it will really depend on what the Blue Jays intend to do this season. They are currently 40-45, 8.5 games out of first place and tied for last in the American League East. But they also have some good young pieces and may be more interested in retooling their lineup using their largest trade piece rather than a committed rebuild, much like I’ve suggested the Cardinals should try with Matt Carpenter. So guys at the higher levels of the minors who can have an impact sooner may hold more interest to them.

Another factor to consider is that the Cardinals recently named Michael Girsch their new GM. It remains to be seen just how much leash he has been given out of the gate, but the organization expects to be active at the deadline and I think when we look at how John Mozeliak handled his first couple months in the GM’s office after the 2007 season, we see he quickly set the tone for his tenure. His first two moves were to ship out Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen as he set about turning an underperforming roster into a playoff contender.

Girsch has the same job, will he be given a similar opportunity? It wouldn’t surprise me.

Something that might also play a role is that the Blue Jays have Mark Shapiro as their President and CEO. He was previously with the Indians while Mozeliak and Indians GM Chris Antonetti traded often over the past several years. That could create some comfort as the two franchises discuss a deal.

The bottom line is always what the Blue Jays might be asking for. I expect that it would take two top level prospects as the core of a deal to get Donaldson. I think that as long as you can keep one of them from being Alex Reyes, I’m okay with that deal. Donaldson would be a game changing bat in the lineup that is mostly devoid of that ability. And I’m not content for the Cardinals to sit on their hands for a year and a half until the 2018-19 offseason.

The question is whether the Cardinals are okay with that cost? The organization has been reluctant over the past few years to part with multiple prospects for a single Major League player or dig deep to do what is required to make a franchise altering acquisition. Are they willing now?

That remains to be seen.

Five things about the Marlins Series

The Cardinals’ four game series against the Marlins started out well, with them winning the opener 14-2, but quickly fell off the rails as they were able to come away with only a split of the series. They find themselves 41-44 with three games remaining before the All Star break and 5.5 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers.

They will welcome the Mets to town in the hopes of completing a three game sweep to head into the break with a .500 record.

Voit mashes

Luke Voit continued the hot start to his big league career as he had two hits in each of the Cardinals’ wins in the series. Those two hits in each were a home run and a double. He had 7 RBI total in the series and is hitting well enough that it should create a difficult decision for the Cardinals when it comes to the return of Kolten Wong which is expected later this month. There would seem to be no room at the inn for one of Voit, Wong, Matt Carpenter, Paul DeJong, and Jedd Gyorko.

Gyorko continues to have traction

I keep waiting for the clock to strike midnight on Jedd Gyorko’s season. By all accounts, I expected it months ago. In fact, when the organization elected to release Jhonny Peralta, I was convinced that it had already started. And then he rebounded. He started just two of the four games against the Marlins after having problems with leg cramps but went 4-for-6 with 2 walks.

In fact, in the 28 games since Peralta was released, Gyorko has played in 27 of them and hit .310/.404/.560 with 5 home runs.

Garcia coming out of his slump?

Greg Garcia got three starts in this series due to Gyorko’s cramping issues, and went 3-for-10 with a home run in Tuesday’s game. Over the past 10 games he is slashing .308/.419/.423. He had been hitting .167 in May and June and saw his batting average on the season dip below .200 as recently as June 28th.

Cecil turns it around

When Brett Cecil signed a 4 year, $30 million deal in free agency and then got off to a bad start this season, it was easy to panic. He looked lost on the mound, whether that was over use or struggling mechanics or both, the numbers weren’t pretty. But he allowed three hits over 1.2 scoreless innings in Thursday’s game and it was the first time he had allowed a hit in 7 appearances.

That means that since his appearance on May 19th, Cecil has a 1.77 ERA and 0.69 WHIP in 21 appearances.

2012 was a good year

This series saw four of the Cardinals’ draft picks from the 2012 draft make appearances. Michael Wacha was taken with the Cardinals’ first pick of that draft and allowed 2 runs over 5.2 innings and picked up his sixth win of the season in the series finale. Fellow first rounder Stephen Piscotty went 3-for-14. Fourth round pick Alex Mejia appeared as a sub in all four games, going 1-for-4.

And seventh round pick Kyle Barraclough pitched two scoreless appearances in relief for the Marlins, and has easily been one of their best relief pitchers. Barraclough was traded to Miami for Steve Cishek in 2015 and made his MLB debut later that season. In three years in the big leagues, he has a 2.84 ERA over 139 appearances.

Second round pick Carson Kelly could be on his way to the big league club at some point in the second half after John Mozeliak indicated that his time is coming. And we’ve all seen what third round pick Tim Cooney did before getting injured last year and claimed off waivers by the Indians last winter.

Not a bad haul at all.

Weaver returns as Mayers gets optioned

The St. Louis Cardinals have optioned right handed pitcher Mike Mayers to Memphis and recalled right handed pitcher Luke Weaver for the first time this season.

Mayers will return to Memphis having once again struggled to keep the opposing team off the scoreboard in the Majors. He allowed two earned runs over 4 innings of work between two appearances, allowing an earned run in each. Though it should be noted that in his most recent appearance, he made it through two scoreless innings before allowing a run in his third inning of work.

Weaver, a former first round pick of the Cardinals, is expected to make his 2017 big league debut out of the bullpen. He holds a 1.93 ERA and a 7-1 record in 11 starts for Memphis this season.

He had recently been named to the Pacific Coast League All Star team and was the PCL’s Pitcher of the Month in May.

During his debut with the Cardinals last year he made eight starts for the big league Cardinals with a 4.54 ERA but averaged just 4.5 innings per start. He made one relief appearance, allowing 5 earned runs over 0.2 innings of work.

I campaigned heavily for Weaver’s call up last year, because I liked that he was dominating at every level he hit. But I’ve been uncertain about his promotion this year since he demonstrated he still had developing to do. But he has improved and should likely be able to be a good piece for the St. Louis bullpen.