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
Mike Matheny announced today that Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn will start games one and two, respectively, of the National League Divisional Series. The Cardinals are home in St. Louis where they await the winner of tonight’s NL Wild Card between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds. It represents a change in the order of the rotation as we enter the playoffs as Lynn had been scheduled to start on days preceding Wainwright’s turn in the rotation.
There’s been some surprise that the Cardinals announced their starters early, ahead of finding out who they will play in Thursday afternoon’s game one.
Wainwright, 32, finished up the season with a 19-9 record and a 2.94 ERA. He led the league in wins, starts (34), complete games (5), shutouts (2), innings pitched (241.2), and batters faced (856). He is the ace of the Cardinals rotation and they had previously moved him to make his last start on Saturday so that he could start game one on regular rest. Wainwright is 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA over his last five starts. 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
ESPN posted this image to their Baseball Tonight Facebook page tonight with the caption, “The best pitcher in baseball is ____?” I just want to know how anyone with any knowledge of baseball kept a straight face while creating and then posting this graphic.
I get what they were doing. These are all pitchers who have 4 wins and 0 losses. Which we all know is the end-all-be-all of pitching statistics to determine ability, right? When you look deeper, not only is Lance Lynn not one of the top-5 pitchers in baseball, he’s only the fifth best starter on the Cardinals.
But this is ESPN after all. And that sad part is that everyone knows it.
It’s easier to make a defense for Lance Lynn staying in the rotation after he tossed 7 innings of 1-hit baseball opposite a guy who makes 50 times what he does in a year. But even without that game, his merits and performance stand on its own over the last season as to why he belongs in the rotation.
So why is this even worthy of discussion? In a radio interview recently John Mozeliak indicated that the Cardinals would consider Lynn at closer if nobody else settled into the role. “If things still aren’t worked out by, for example, June, we would look internally and consider Lance Lynn as closer.”
No one can forget what Lynn did for the Cardinals in 2011 season out of the bullpen. After a brief cup of coffee in the rotation, he returned out of the bullpen and quickly earned himself a spot at the back end of the rotation and became a go-to guy. He posted a 2.22 ERA over 16 relief appearances before he went down with an injury. He returned in the playoffs where he kept doing what he had been. Continue reading
Many St. Louis Cardinals fans and bloggers today have jumped all over Lance Lynn thanks to a quote tweeted by Cardinals.com beat writer Jenifer Langosch. “I was an 18 game winner last year with an All Star appearance. I have to do a lot of things to lose my spot, in my opinion.” This isn’t the “Cardinal Way.”
In fact, former Cardinals.com beat writer Matthew Leach commented that it wouldn’t have flown under the previous administration. It’s the sort of comment that Tony La Russa wouldn’t have liked. You had to come to Spring Training prepared to work. To earn your spot every spring.
Those are the comments echoed by the veteran players like Yadier Molina who says he has to earn his spot every year. But if you really asked him one-on-one, off the record, I would bet money that he thinks he has a 100% chance of starting on Opening Day as long as he’s healthy. Even if Molina went hitless in March, he’d still be starting on Opening Day. Continue reading