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
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
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