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
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
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
The Cardinals announced today that they have signed General Manager John Mozeliak to a three year extension that will run through the 2016 season. Also, they have picked up the option year on Mike Matheny‘s contract which keeps him the skipper of the team through 2014.
Mozeliak inherited a 78 win team in 2007, a team that was mostly aging stars on offense and was missing Chris Carpenter. Since then, the team has had five straight winning seasons, one of just two teams to have accomplished that (Yankees being the other). His teams have also gone to two straight National League Championship Series’ and the future still seems as bright as ever.
Matheny will be entering his sophomore season as manager and led the team to an 88-74 record last season. He managed a team that lost Albert Pujols to free agency, as well as Chris Carpenter and Lance Berkman for most of the year with injury and still finished just two games worse than the Cardinals’ did the year before. He also had the Cardinals one win away from a second straight World Series trip. Continue reading
It’s been a theme for the Cardinals all season. Missed opportunities. The most glaring from this afternoon being a bases loaded situation in the bottom of the seventh with no outs. Ground balls from Allen Craig and Yadier Molina ended the inning without the Cardinals scoring to extend their 2-1 lead. At that point, the momentum swung firmly in the direction of the Nationals.
In the top of the eighth, Mitchell Boggs came in and it all began to unravel for the Cardinals. A tough bounce resulted in a fielding error by Pete Kozma allowed Michael Morse to reach base. Ian Desmond singled to move Morse to third. Danny Espinosa sacrificed Desmond to second. With runners at second and third, Boggs managed to strike out Kurt Suzuki for the second out of the inning. It appeared the Cardinals might escape the inning.
The left handed hitter Chad Tracy was announced as the pinch hitter. Mike Matheny went to the mound and brought in Marc Rzepczynski, the only lefty reliever on the St. Louis roster. His last appearance, he allowed a double to Jason Heyward before getting out of the inning against a right hander. Of course, when Rzepczynski came into the game, Nationals manager Davey Johnson went back for right handed hitter Tyler Moore.
As my Dad told me last night, “I was expecting a Wild Card Game, not a wild Cards’ game.” Major League Baseball’s first Wild Card Game, certainly lived up to the wild factor. The 94 win Atlanta Braves were facing off against the 88 game St. Louis Cardinals at Turner Field on Friday evening with a National League Divisional Series berth on the line.
Facing off for the game was the Braves’ Kris Medlen (10-1, 1.57) and the Cardinals’ Kyle Lohse (16-3, 2.86).
Medlen was the starter of note, because the Braves had won 23 consecutive games that Medlen had started, dating back to May 29, 2010. The streak was interrupted by Tommy John surgery and he started this season in the bullpen for the Braves.
Lohse was the quieter of the pair, despite being one of the top pitchers in the National League all season. He led the Cardinals’ rotation in ERA this year. A rotation that was the fourth best in baseball. He had also never won a playoff start going into this game, having a career postseason ERA of 5.12 in 31 2/3 innings. Last year during the Cardinals’ playoff run, he allowed 11 runs in 12 2/3 innings.