The St. Louis Cardinals have gotten out to an obviously slow start offensively. So I went back to trace the numbers. They have scored 17 runs over the first six games of this season, that is the third lowest total of the last 20 years. The only worse were 1997 (12 runs scored) and 2011 (15 runs scored).
However, on the bright side, the 22 runs the Cardinals have allowed is the third lowest of the last 20 years. The only better starts for a pitching staff were 2008 (13 runs against) and 2012 (17 runs against).
Their -5 run differential provides some hope as it is just the 7th worst of the last 20 years. There’s something interesting to consider with years that start with negative run differentials too. The Cardinals have seven of them now, in all but two they ended up making the playoffs (1996, 2001, 2005, 2011). That’s the same number of playoff appearances out of the best six run differentials too.
So the point of this was to say that there is no point in worrying about the offensive output over the first six games of the season. There are 156 more to play anyway and it has no visible effect on playoff chances.
As I’m watching the game against the Pirates tonight, Mike Matheny brought Carlos Martinez, his eighth inning guy, in the sixth inning to spell Joe Kelly. Which made me wonder why Matheny bothered to designate Martinez as his setup man if he wasn’t going to actually be the eighth inning man.
But at the same time, the more I think about it, the more I think this is the perfect role for Martinez.
We have three guys in the rotation this year who will need to have their innings watched. Those are Shelby Miller, Michael Wacha, and Joe Kelly. Miller and Wacha will likely be targeted around 200 innings, including the playoffs. Kelly will likely be a lot lower, maybe around 170 innings.
Martinez’s role should be that of an innings saver. Have him expected to go a few innings behind Miller, Wacha, or Kelly every few days. With Kevin Siegrist as a quality option for the eighth inning and Jason Motte on his way back, this role is a win from almost every angle.
If Martinez is really the next best starting pitcher on the staff, he is being vastly underutilized confined to a one inning bullpen role. Making him a modified long reliever to help protect the other young pitchers while keeping himself stretched out to go multiple innings in case of an injury to a starting pitcher would seem to make the most sense for the team going forward.
Following a play where he fell into the stands, Matt Adams pushed a fan as he was extricating himself from the tarp. Some media outlets are describing it as a shove or even Jenifer Langosch calling it a “nudge” in her article. It was somewhere in between.
At first I thought it was a “bro shove” as fellow UCBer Kevin Reynolds called it this morning on Twitter as we discussed it. However, Adams’ face betrayed that concept. He was frustrated with the fan interfering with him.
I’m not saying it was intentional, and I don’t believe it was. There is a distinction between intention and reaction. It was just a frustrated reaction towards a fan who stole an would-be out away from him. Adams didn’t set out to push the fan, but it happened, and intent doesn’t matter.
Major League Baseball can’t allow fan/player contact like this to go unpunished and they shouldn’t. I think he needs to be suspended for three games. Players need to be reminded that they have to be above the fans, unfortunately it is Adams who has placed himself on the chopping block as the example.
Adam Wainwright pitched masterfully in the season opener. Michael Wacha did the same in the second game of the series. Then came Lance Lynn. The much maligned Lynn may not have the overall performance some would like to see out of him, but with him on the mound the offense usually finds a way to win baseball games. That can’t be argued.
Lynn and Wainwright, now at 34 wins, remain tied as the winningest NL pitchers since the start of the 2012 season. However their paths to get there are vastly different.
Wainwright has a 3.34 ERA over 67 starts and a 111 ERA+.
Lynn has a 3.90 ERA over 63 starts and a 95 ERA+, just below average.
The cries to replace Lynn have already resounded, especially after the Reds scored 3 runs during the first inning on him, but he did rebound nicely as he threw four more shutout innings. No doubt Lynn needs to step it up and be more consistent of a pitcher, but he is on the mound when the team wins baseball games. That may not count for much, but it should count for something as wins are all that matters. As long as they do, I’m not inclined to move him out of the rotation.
Ryan Braun received a standing ovation from Milwaukee Brewers fans on their Opening Day on Monday. It was met with laughter on social media from fans outside of Milwaukee. Why would you cheer for a guy who lied about PED use the first time, ruined the reputation of a sample collector, and then missed a large portion of last season because of his connection to PEDs.
While many fans laughed at the concept of it, writers had a field day with it. It illustrated to me the divide that there is between the media and the fans. The writers and media like to think the glory days of baseball, before the PED bubble burst in the early 2000s, was perfect and devoid of cheats. Everyone played the game “the right way.” But they didn’t. Players have been using everything they can find in attempts to gain an edge from amphetamines to cocaine to cork to nail files. It’s no surprise they looked to medical science for an edge.
The response to Braun really underscores the concept in my mind that it’s really only the sports media that is holding on to vile contempt for PED users. Most fans, while they may not like the fact that PEDs are now a part of the game, they have grown to reluctantly accept it. Even Cardinals fans have accepted it now that we have our own playing shortstop.
I’m not sure what people expected Brewers fans to do anyway. They are stuck with Braun through at least the 2020 season. So they’re going to have to deal with him for a long time to come. What it comes down to is that he is their cheater. As long as he can be productive and contribute to a successful Brewers team, they don’t care what he did or how he did it.