I’ve spent quite a bit of time this evening defending Mike Matheny’s decision to let Lance Lynn start this game over Shelby Miller or Joe Kelly. And I don’t usually find myself in the position of defending Matheny, either. In the end, it didn’t work out for the Cardinals as Lynn struggled through the game, allowing 5 earned runs over 4.1 innings of work. The main complaint being that Lynn can’t be relied upon because he isn’t mentally tough and he’s been killed by the Pirates all season.
While I can’t speak to the former, I can understand why it would be an issue, especially when your offense thought it was a night game. The latter is definitely true. Lance Lynn has been killed by the Pirates this season. The Pirates hit .283/.371/.505 against him this season. For a reference, that’s like if every hitter in the Pirates lineup were Matt Adams (.284/.335/.503). And well, that’s certainly not good for a pitcher.
But Miller wasn’t much better. The Pirates hit him with a line of .321/.396/.679 this season. I don’t have a good comparable to that because that slugging percentage is higher than Miguel Cabrera‘s (who led all of baseball in slugging). In fact, if that was a player he would have finished 5th in batting average, 9th in on base percentage, and 1st in slugging percentage. We’d be talking about an MVP candidate. Continue reading
On Sunday afternoon the St. Louis Cardinals put the finishing touches on their 2013 campaign that saw them finish with a 97-65 record, good for best in the National League. For a team that spent most of the first half of the season in that position before floundering through the midsummer, it was a happy ending.
The team, however, will enter postseason play for the tenth time in the last fourteen seasons with about as many questions as answers. Here are three important questions that the team will need to find answers to if the franchise’s 12th World Series title is in the cards.
Who will be the postseason closer?
After the preseason injury to closer Jason Motte who led the league with 42 saves in 2012, the team began looking for a new one this spring. Last year’s setup man Mitchell Boggs was unable to settle into the role which opened up the competition. Then last year’s trade deadline acquisition and seventh inning man, Edward Mujica stepped into the role and made it his own, posting a 1.72 ERA, a 0.78 WHIP, and 35 saves in 37 chances from when he took over the position until the end of August. He even got an All Star nod of his own for his work.
But some late season struggles that included being shut down for a week in September for elbow fatigue has opened the door to questions about his health and who will close for the team. Mujica struggled to the finish in 2013 with an 11.05 ERA in his 7 1/3 innings of work and the league hitting over .500 against him. Continue reading
After a 14th inning appearance where he walked two and allowed a hit that put the Diamondbacks on top for the eventual win, Victor Marte is on his way back to Memphis. Since his recall on May 27th, Marte has made four appearances allowing four hits and three walks. Not a recipe for success. Kevin Reynolds (@deckacards) and I had some fun at his expense last night on Twitter.
Kevin: This game has Marte throwing error written all over it.
Jon: That’s not a throwing error, that’s just how he pitches.
Kevin: I was waiting for that… it’s like I set it on a tee for you.
Jon: Also something Marte does well.
Marte had a time last season where he provided some valuable innings for Mike Matheny in the bullpen. Unfortunately, the league caught up and figured him out while he had some trouble finding the strike zone. Continue reading
With the Cardinals getting into the final two weeks of camp, the final jostling for spots on the roster are beginning to take shape. For the Cardinals they have a handful of positions up for grabs. There’s the fifth spot in the rotation that is up for grabs after Chris Carpenter‘s injury. There’s a bullpen spot or two. There’s a couple spots potentially up for grabs on the bench as well.
Today we’ll look at the fifth spot in the rotation. Many, including myself, believe that this was Shelby Miller‘s spot the moment Carpenter called John Mozeliak back in February and told him he wasn’t going to be able to pitch. I’m sure none of us have forgotten that Miller took a no-hitter into the 6th inning of his starting debut on the final day of the season against the Cincinnati Reds.
Miller has struggled, however. Baseball America’s #6 prospect carries a 7.04 ERA over the 7 2/3 innings that he’s thrown. With 10 hits and 2 walks paired with 8 strikeouts, he’s plainly struggled. His worst outing was his last when he allowed 3 earned runs over 2 2/3 innings. In fact he has progressively gotten worse in each start. That may spell him beginning the season in Memphis to get back into the groove he was in the second half of last year when he was dominating the Pacific Coast League and then came up and did it in the big leagues. Continue reading
Early Wednesday morning the San Francisco Giants defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers. In doing so, the knocked the Dodgers out of the playoffs and clinched the second Wild Card for the St. Louis Cardinals. What that meant is that tonight’s game because the first meaningless game that the Cardinals have played since the 2010 season finale.
Adam Wainwright was supposed to start this game, however, with it being a meaningless game he was held out. Instead, he is penciled in to start Game 1 of the National League Divisional Series against the Washington Nationals.
In his place, the organization’s #1 prospect Shelby Miller got the nod and the opportunity to make an impact out of the rotation.
The St. Louis Cardinals announced today that they have signed Jake Westbrook to a new deal. The deal is essentially a 1 year deal that gives Westbrook $250,000 more than he would have made on his 2013 option and gives both parties a mutual option worth $9.5 million for 2014.
Westbrook, 34, said earlier this month that he intended to exercise his half of his $8.5 million option for 2013 but admitted he wasn’t sure what the team was going to do. He got his answer.
He is certainly pitching worth it right now too. With a 12-9 record and a 3.50 ERA in 24 starts, he is enjoying the second best season of his career by ERA+. His best was 2004 where he got his only career All Star nod and finished at 14-9 with a 3.38 ERA. Continue reading