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
The second half of the baseball season is about to begin and the trade deadline is right around the corner. Already newspapers, blogs, message boards, and twitter feeds are rife with trade rumors as everyone has a keen eye on watching how their teams will perform in the second half. So where are the Cardinals and what could they be looking to add to shore up the team as they drive towards another playoff berth?
I think a good way to get an idea of where the team’s weaknesses lay can be found by a quick glance at the team statistics. With 462 runs scored in 93 games, the offense is currently ranked third in the majors and first in the National League. On the opposite side of the ball, the starting rotation finds themselves with a 3.33 ERA which is good for second in baseball behind division rival Pittsburgh. Their bullpen, on the other hand, has a 3.56 ERA and is only good for 16th.
So a quick glance points you towards the bullpen which has rebounded nicely from an atrocious start with thanks to Edward Mujica‘s step into the closer’s role which he has taken and held onto. Trevor Rosenthal settled into the 8th inning and has once again in the discussion for best relief pitcher in baseball. However, the rest of the bullpen has been a big question mark with most of the rebound behind fueled by great performances by rookie pitchers fresh out of Memphis. Continue reading
Matt Adams‘ hot start will have to wait for its next chance to burn as the Cardinals announced today that they have placed him on the 15 day disabled list retroactive to April 22nd. Adams had complained about tightness in his back and visited the club doctor yesterday to review the injury. Apparently it’s bad enough to side line him for a couple weeks.
Adams had been hitting .542 with 3 home runs in the 8 games he’d played in this season. His slugging percentage currently stands at 1.042.
In his place the club has purchased the contract of infielder Jermaine Curtis. Curtis, 25, was a fifth round pick of the Cardinals in the 2008 draft out of UCLA. He split time between Springfield and Memphis last season and amassed a line of .310/.419/.373 with a home run and 25 RBI. He is off to a solid start in Memphis this season, posting a .292 batting average with a home run and 17 RBI in 17 games. Continue reading
September’s UCB Project, after all the requisite UCB Weekend related postings, was the annual top-7 prospects. We don’t have to do it like that, and in the end Daniel leaves it to us to figure out what makes a prospect and what doesn’t.
Last year, I did an All-Prospect Team, pointing out my favorite players at each position in the organization. This year, I’m going to do the same. However, this year, the list takes a more distant look. Most of the players I deemed as my favorites last year spent enough time to take away that tag, was traded, or injured.
As far as what is and what isn’t a prospect, I’ll go with the definition of anyone under the age of 25 who will maintain their MLB rookie status. For those who don’t know, that’s 130 at bats, 50 innings, or 45 days of service before expanded rosters. Those 45 days is why Lance Lynn was no longer a rookie this season, though I’d have to think he’d be on the shortlist for Rookie of the Year if he had been.
The St. Louis Cardinals just completed their series victory against the Cincinnati Reds with a 8-2 drubbing behind Adam Wainwright. Wainwright, it’s fun to realize, has a 1.73 ERA and is 6-1 in 8 starts since the All Star Break. He has once again emerged as the Cardinals’ ace and regaining his market value along with it. He’s also on pace to surpass 200 innings something he’s done in every full season he’s spent as a starting pitcher.
If you’ll remember back to the last Monday Musial I wrote on July 30th, I talked about how the 22 game stretch from July 31st to August 23rd was going to be a critical run for the Cardinals’ up into this 10 game stretch against the Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Washington Nationals. The Cardinals went 14-8 over this stretch, which is great until you realize how easily they could have been 18-4 and how that would have changed everything.
I still firmly believe that 90 wins is the golden ticket to the playoffs. Currently, the Atlanta Braves are the only team in the Wild Card hunt on pace for 90 wins. Their .567 winning percentage translates to 92 wins. For the Cardinals, their .551 translates to just shy of 90 wins (.555 is 90 wins). Continue reading