Five things about the Reds Series

The St. Louis Cardinals wrapped up their season series against the Cincinnati Reds with a sweep to put their season record against the Reds at 10-9. When play wrapped up last night the Cardinals are80-72 and 5 games out of the NL Central, but find themselves 1.5 games behind the Colorado Rockies for the second Wild Card.

The Cardinals head to Pittsburgh where they will play a three game series this weekend against the Pirates before heading home for four against the Cubs and three against the Brewers to finish out the season.

Pham is the first Cardinals’ player since 1900 (and maybe first Cardinal ever) to hit 20 home runs, 20 doubles, steal 20 bases, and (working on) hit .300 in a season. When the Cardinals shared this tidbit of information, Tommy Pham was at 19 doubles and a couple nights later he hit a pair of doubles to help drive the Cardinals to victory. He went 6-for-15 in the series with 2 walks.

Assuming Pham plays in all 10 games to finish out the season, assuming he bats second and maintains his 13% walk rate, Pham should get about 40 at bats over the final 10 games of the season. That would mean he needs to go 8-for-40 at the plate over the final 10 games to maintain that .300 batting average.

You go, we go. Dexter Fowler put together a good series for the Cardinals as it appears he has supplanted Paul DeJong as the team’s #3 hitter of the moment. Fowler went 7-for-13 in the series with two walks, two home runs, and three doubles. Fowler is now batting .270/.367/.504 for the season.

It’s safe to say that while Fowler has not been the player we expected him to be when the Cardinals signed him last winter, he has still been good. His .270 batting average is above his career average, his .367 OBP is right at career average, and his .504 slugging percentage is a career high. So are the 18 home runs.

Health and defense have been his major drawbacks, but those could be alleviated with a regular offseason and perhaps a move to left field.

Weaver continues to roll. Luke Weaver has arrived at the perfect time for the Cardinals this season. With the injury to Adam Wainwright, Weaver stepped into that rotation spot and hasn’t skipped a beat. Dating back to August 2nd, the Cardinals have won all 8 games in which Weaver has taken the mound and 7 straight starts. Over those 44.2 innings, Weaver has a 1.61 ERA and 0.96 WHIP.

There are no breaks for him either as his next start is expected to come on Monday against the Cubs and then he should get one in the Brewers series to finish up the season.

Other than against Cincinnati, Juan Nicasio has been pretty good. Nicasio has a 3.18 ERA since joining the Cardinals earlier in September to go along with a 1.06 WHIP. In 5.2 innings he has allowed just 2 earned runs, both of those to Cincinnati. And both in games the Cardinals won. With the way he’s been pitching, he’ll be a large part of the equation if the Cardinals make the playoffs and there will likely be a glaring hole come October when he’s ineligible.

Flaherty moved to the bullpen. The move of Jack Flaherty to the bullpen after he posted a 6.46 ERA over the first four starts of his MLB career probably spells the end of the season for the right handed former first round pick. He made it through five innings just once in those four starts, but he’s also thrown 164 innings and 29 starts which is a tremendous amount of innings for a rookie. Hopefully he came up, learned some lessons and will come back next season like Weaver has done this year.

In his place the Cardinals will start John Gant, which doesn’t have me too inspired. I guess Wainwright is more injured than anyone has let on since he’s been available out of the bullpen this week and hasn’t found the mound. Gant had a 3.83 ERA in 18 starts for Memphis this season and had a 4.80 ERA over 7 starts for Atlanta last year.

Five things about the Brewers Series

It was a short two-day set against the division rival Milwaukee Brewers and the Cardinals successfully(?) split it, winning the opener 10-2 before falling in the finale 5-6. With the loss, the Cardinals fall now 6 games back in the NL Central behind the Cubs. It is the furthest back they’ve been since July 16th when they finished play 6.5 games back.

Wham, Pham

Tommy Pham went deep twice in the series finale, driving in four of the Cardinals’ five runs on his 18th and 19th home runs in the 1st and 8th innings, respectively. Pham went 4-for-8 in the series with 2 walks and 4 RBI. He is hitting .316/.423/.525 since the All Star Break. His 4.6 fWAR in 103 games ranks him the 20th best position player in baseball and all except Mike Trout (5.8 in 87 games), Carlos Correa (4.7 in 84 games), and Bryce Harper (4.7 in 106 games) have played 20+ more games than him.

The shut down bullpen

In both games against Milwaukee, the bullpen brought it. On Tuesday they threw 3.1 innings and allowed just one hit. On Wednesday, they threw 2.1 perfect innings. If, and granted it is a big if, the Cardinals still have some hope of making a run at this thing, they’ll need performances like this out of the bullpen.

Weaver looks good

Luke Weaver made his fourth start of the season and went 5.2 innings and allowed 2 runs. He became the first Cardinals rookie pitcher to strike out 10 batters in back-to-back starts since Rick Ankiel, which isn’t bad company for a rookie. In his four big league starts this season he has a 3.00 ERA in 24 innings. That goes nicely with the 2.55 ERA he had in 15 starts in Memphis.

Homers for Houston

Matt Carpenter, who went to high school in Missouri City, TX, a suburb of Houston, said that he would donate $10,000 for each home run he hit the rest of the season to relief efforts. Adam Wainwright said he’d match it and so did the Cardinals. Carpenter would go deep for his 18th home run of the season in the 5th inning off Carlos Torres.

I can’t even be mad

Two out in the top of the 9th and Randal Grichuk gets a hold of one to center field, but there’s Keon Broxton jumping at the wall to rob the would-be go ahead home run. It would have put the Cards on top at least 7-6 headed to the bottom. But a game saving, home run robbing catch? I can’t even get mad.

Five things about the Pirates Series

The Pittsburgh Pirates quickly strangled any hope of coming out of the break with some momentum as they managed not one, but two come-from-behind, walk-off victories against the Cardinals this weekend at PNC Park to win the series. As much as I want to say it was a surprise, since most expected the Cardinals to come to Pittsburgh and handle their business, it really wasn’t. Since the Pirates became relevant again, they have consistently given the Cardinals fits in Pittsburgh.

The Cardinals now find themselves 6.5 games back in the division and in third place. They head to New York for a four game set against the Mets.

“Closing time, one last call for alcohol…”

Or so the lyrics to the song go, but its hard for Mike Matheny to figure out who should take him home when everyone seems to be crashing. Seung-hwan Oh started the season as the closer before about three weeks ago Matheny said he was making a change and going with Trevor Rosenthal. Then he went back to Oh on Friday, who blew the save. Then on Sunday afternoon he pulled out Brett Cecil in the 9th to close up the game.

It’s a bad look when none of the three highest paid relievers in your bullpen can’t be trusted to close out a game and I don’t think we can add #4, Kevin Siegrist, in there either.

In my opinion it’s time to mix Sam Tuivailala into late innings situations. Tuivailala has a 2.25 ERA over 20 innings of work this season and carries a 1.20 WHIP. In Memphis he carries a 1.65 ERA over 16 innings of work. And yet he continues to be relegated to mop up duty in Matheny’s bullpen, having thrown the least out of all the relievers over the last 14 and 28 days. Over those last 28 days he’s thrown 6 scoreless innings in five appearances.

In fact, Tuivailala, John Brebbia, and Matthew Bowman have combined to allow just a single earned run over the last 28 days. No other reliever on the roster has less than two. They’ve earned a right to get an opportunity in higher leverage situations, especially when the guys who are there aren’t getting the job done.

Some of Tony La Russa’s greatest successes came by acknowledging the way he was using his bullpen wasn’t working and switching things up. It’s time for Matheny to follow that lead and mix things up.

Sierra returns triumphant

With injuries to both Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty, Magneuris Sierra gets another cup of coffee with the big league club and comes throguh, going 4-for-4 in his return. Now through 9 games of his MLB career, he’s got at least one hit in all of them and multiple hits in five of them. He is the 154th player in MLB history to go 4-for-4 inside his first 10 career games.

Of course, the cries for Sierra to be an everyday player from here on out were there. We seem to be at peak Sierra, similar to where we were in May when everyone was complaining about how the Cardinals let Allen Cordoba go in the Rule 5 draft when he was hitting .300 in San Diego. Since June 1st, Cordoba has hit .131 and those complaints have gone quiet. Eventually Sierra will reach that point too and when he does, it won’t be pretty.

Sierra has sixteen hits in his first 9 MLB games. All singles. His speed making up for a lack of punch.

As The Intrepid STL’s Zach Gifford tweeted last night, Sierra still has much to develop on the offensive side of the ball. His contact rate and chase rates are worse than Grichuk. His .571 BABIP makes him look good. He’s projected to have a 61 wRC+ to finish out the season according to Fangraphs. That’s 49% worse than an average player.

Wong returns from DL

Kolten Wong returned almost a month to the date of his headed to the disabled list for a second time and went 0-for-4. After his customary night off on the second night, Wong returned on Sunday afternoon and went 2-for-4. With Paul DeJong and Magneuris Sierra in the lineup, Wong batted sixth, which is the highest he’s been in the lineup all season. Which is borderline laughable considering he led the team in batting average and on base percentage a month ago.

Pham returns from the break hitting

It seems like Tommy Pham just has no desire to give up playing time in the outfield, even while that continues to be a talking point. Pham went 5-for-12 in the series with a pair of doubles in the Pirates series. Over the Cardinals’ last 20 games, he has hit .347/.427/.514. He has been the Cardinals’ best outfielder and their third best hitter overall by wRC+ (behind Paul DeJong and Luke Voit) in that span.

Another wasted Martinez start

The Cardinals lost on Sunday with Carlos Martinez going 7 innings and allowing just two runs for his 13th quality start on the season. That tied him with Mike Leake for the team lead in quality starts. It was the team’s fifth loss when Martinez turns in a quality start and third straight.

It was their third loss this season when Martinez turned in a QS+ or “Gibby” (defined by Derrick Goold as going at least 7 IP and allowing 3 ER or less).

Five things about the Mets Series

The Cardinals took two out of three against the New York Mets to wrap up their first half at 43-45. They are tied for second place with the Chicago Cubs and are 5.5 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers.

After the break, they will play a three game set in Pittsburgh against the Pirates. They hold a 4-2 record this season against the Pirates, but have yet to play them in PNC Park.

DeJong’s historic series

For Paul DeJong, it wasn’t just a great series, it was a historic one. DeJong went 9-for-12 (.750) with four doubles and three home runs in a three game series against the Mets. That made him the first Cardinals’ player in Major League Baseball’s modern era to record 6+ extra base hits in a three game series.

On Saturday afternoon, DeJong went 4-for-4 with three doubles and a home run. That made him just the 7th Cardinals player since 1913 to record three doubles and a home run in the same game.

It puts a nice cap on DeJong’s return to the big leagues as he’s gone from Kolten Wong‘s injury replacement to the starting shortstop while hitting .345/.370/.701 with 8 home runs since returning to the big leagues on June 15th.

Wainwright gets his 10th win

Adam Wainwright allowed one run over 6 2/3 innings on Saturday afternoon to pick up his tenth win of the season. That has many fans scratching their heads since Wainwright has the worst season long numbers in the rotation and that brings the typical roar that pitcher wins are a meaningless statistic.

And while I disagree with they are meaningless, I will go as far as to say that they are greatly overrated. The only reason they aren’t meaningless? The object is to win the game, after all.

Forget pitching decisions, the Cardinals are 11-7 (.611 winning percentage) this season in games that Wainwright starts. No other starting pitcher has a winning team record in games they start. The next closest being Michael Wacha at 8-8. If nothing else, this should tell us that his 5.20 ERA is not the whole story.

In his 10 win decisions this season, Wainwright has a 2.70 ERA. In his five loss decisions this season, Wainwright has a 13.70 ERA. So when Wainwright is good, he’s very good. When Wainwright is bad, he’s very bad with those numbers being buoyed up by a pair of 9 earned run starts where he didn’t make it through four innings in either.

As @StlCrdsfn11 pointed out on Saturday on Twitter, Wainwright has allowed four runs or less in 14 of his starts and two runs or less in 10 of them. That mirrors the results of Carlos Martinez, who we are all ready to crown ace of the rotation.

Lynn makes no mistakes

After a quality start to the season, Lance Lynn has struggled a bit more recently thanks to the long ball. After posting a 2.04 ERA while allowing a home run ever 8.8 innings in his first six starts of the season, Lynn posted a 4.95 ERA while allowing a home run every 3.8 innings in his next eleven starts. He was able to keep the mistakes to a minimum while throwing seven scoreless innings and keeping the Mets in the park.

Pham responds to challenge

With the three Opening Day outfielders back on the Cardinals’ 25 man roster, Tommy Pham is seeing the first real challenge for playing time since his call up in May. He went 3-for-3 with a home run on Sunday afternoon to close out his first half at .299/.386/.510.

When Mike Matheny and the Cardinals dance around how they intend to divvy up playing time in the second half, Pham takes no prisoners in his response. He was asked about it and STL Baseball Weekly wrote about it. Pham is having none of it. He has been the Cardinals’ best outfielder this season and is not afraid to say it.

Brewers leading at the All Star break

The Milwaukee Brewers will lead the NL Central at the All Star Break. They have been in first place at the All Star break four times in their franchise history and half of those times, the Cardinals ended up winning the division. Further, the pattern works.

In 1982 the Cardinals won the World Series. In 2007 they did not. In 2011 they won the World Series. In 2014 they did not. In 2017? Well, the pattern seems to indicate that this is the Cardinals’ year.

Bonus: Electric cars don’t run on home run power

Dexter Fowler returned to the lineup on Friday night, batting third, and hit a home run. It was nice to see in his return to the lineup, but it had more meaning than just that. Here’s why:

https://twitter.com/aliyafowler/status/883495061576708096

He does not seem to be missing this opportunity either, as Aliya added on Saturday that Dexter had registered at Tesla’s website with her name.

Five things about the Phillies Series

The Cardinals won the series, but anything short of a sweep against one of the two teams that have been worse over their past 30 games entering this series should be a massive disappointment for the team. They find themselves 33-38 in 3rd place in the NL Central, 5 games back.

They remain within striking distance if they were to put together a strong week or two, but that window is slowly closing and may close altogether if the Brewers or the Cubs figure it out first.

The Cardinals are headed home for three against the Pittsburgh Pirates starting tonight at Busch Stadium.

More Pham please

Tommy Pham went 5-for-14 with three home runs in this series, including two on Wednesday night. On Wednesday night his first home run in the 5th put the Cardinals on the board and his second tied up the game in the 9th inning. He became the first Cardinal and one of 14 players to ever hit two home runs and have two outfield assists in the same game. Yet in the post game interview with Jim Hayes on FOX Sports Midwest, Pham was visibly mad. The reason? He struck out three times.

We don’t often see that level of emotion out of Cardinals players post game. Let alone frustration at their failures when the team won and they were one of the key reasons why the team won.

I get the distinct feel that Pham has reached the point in his career that he’s tired of playing the game, and I don’t mean the one on the field. Two months ago he nearly walked away from the sport, but was encouraged to stick it out and here he is and his .285/.371/.514 batting line is still the best on the club. His intention is to just make it difficult for the club to come up with a valid reason to put him on the bench and so far it’s been working.

Maybe some day he’ll actually get to hit ahead of the two guys who typically bat in front of him and haven’t been good at getting on base for him.

Comeback Cards

In each of the first two games of this series, the Phillies struck first and it was the Cardinals that chipped away to eventually win the games. It’s nice to see that from this team and wins are better than losses, however, let’s remember that it is the Phillies and they probably should never have been behind to them in the first place.

Bullpen continues to be strong

The Cardinals bullpen threw 13 innings in this Phillies series thanks to extra innings and an early exit by Michael Wacha, but only allowed just a single earned run courtesy of Seung-hwan Oh in a game they won. They worked five scoreless innings on Tuesday night and following that up with six innings allowing just Oh’s run on Wednesday night.

Molina’s hitting streak

Yadier Molina is currently on a 10 game hitting streak but has just a .300 OBP over that stretch. It is easily one of the worst on base percentages during a hitting streak of that length over the last several years when I went looking, but he has actually done one better. Back in May, he had a 16 game hitting streak where he had a .282 on base percentage.

Wacha continues to stumble

The season started out so promising for Michael Wacha. Through 7 starts he’d gone at least 6 innings and had a 2.74 ERA. Since then the wheels have fallen off with a 8.17 over 6 starts and he’s made it through the fifth inning just once. He allowed 9 hits and a walk over 4 innings on Wednesday that saw him allow 5 runs, though only two of them were earned.

There’s been talk that they’re considering other options, but for now they seem to be content running Wacha out there while Marco Gonzales, Luke Weaver, and Jack Flaherty continue to excel in Memphis.

Mozeliak mentioned during the Q&A during the UCB game that it was a difficult discussion to have with a player, but that’s why he and Mike Matheny are employed by the organization. To make these decisions and have exactly these kinds of discussions.

Five things about the Rockies Series

The Cardinals dropped two out of three to the Rockies as they fall to 24-23 and 1.5 games back in the NL Central. They head home to face the Dodgers who took two out of three in LA last week. The Cardinals generally have felt listless this season with a losing record at home.

Pham continues to ride hot streak

Tommy Pham continues to ride his hot streak. He entered the Rockies series batting .309/.385/.545 with 3 home runs in 16 games for the Cardinals. He exits it hitting .333/.410/.621 with 5 home runs in 19 games since his May 5th call up.

Those numbers are so good that he is currently ranked in the top-26 in baseball in batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, and wRC+ since his arrival in the Majors this season.

Here’s hoping that he can continue to see and continue his strong hitting performance. The team needs it as he has clearly been by far the Cardinals’ best hitter in May.

Fowler starting to turn the corner?

In the three game series with the Rockies, Dexter Fowler went 6-for-12 in the series and even led off two games with hits, getting a single on Friday night and a double on Sunday to open up the game. That brings his batting average leading off a game up to .216.

The .500 series brought his season average up to .228, but he is still pretty push to where he began the month. He hit .234/.305/.415 in April and is hitting .219/.338/.453 in May. A little more power, a little better on base, but still struggling to find any consistency at the plate.

Hopefully this series is a sign of things to come. The team could use him to start putting it together.

Rocky Mountain high?

On Saturday Mike Matheny gave Matt Carpenter a day off and decided to stick Yadier Molina in the third spot because, what’s the worst that could happen?

I get changing up the system a bit, by Molina is by no means anything close to a #3 hitter anymore. I get that you don’t have a ton of options when Carpenter isn’t going to play and it makes for an incredibly thin lineup, but really?

The best worst part might be that the team won. On an RBI single by Molina. Which is pretty much how Matheny’s craziest ideas work out. Twitter gets lathered up and it works. Unfortunately, that typically empowers Matheny to keep doing it even when it fails the next 9 times.

“DeJong ball”… get it, like “the long ball?”

The Cardinals promoted infielder Paul DeJong to the Majors on Sunday and Mike Matheny wasted no time in getting him into the action as he would pinch hit in the 9th inning. He would go deep for his first Major League home run in his first Major League at bat. Welcome to the Show.

DeJong is in an interesting position. I think that if he can hit and prove he belongs in the big leagues, he’ll make a play to stay after Kolten Wong returns which most likely means the exit of Jhonny Peralta. Over the offseason, I figured that if Peralta failed to hit this year that DeJong was the guy who dictated his future this season.

They were adding positional flexibility late last season for him so that he could find more at bats in the big leagues when he finally made it. Now we’re getting the opportunity to see that.

Five things about the Giants Series

The St. Louis Cardinals took the finale of a three game set against the San Francisco Giants over the weekend. They remain second place in the NL Central at 22-19, 1.5 games behind the division leading Milwaukee Brewers and half a game ahead of the defending division champion Chicago Cubs.

The Cardinals now head to Los Angeles for a three game series as they head west for the week. The Dodgers (26-19) are 6-4 over their last ten and coming off a series against the Marlins that saw them win three of four.

A lack of production from the top

It doesn’t seem to matter who the Cardinals plug into the top-3 spots in the lineup this season, they struggle to get consistent production from them. In the Giants series the top-3 spots in the lineup went a combined 6-for-38 (.158) and it’s not unique to this series.

The top-3 spots in the Cardinals lineup are hitting .210 on the season. The only team worse has been Oakland, whose first three hitters are batting .194.

And why I say it doesn’t seem to matter who hits in that top-3? Let’s look at the three guys who have spent the most time in the #2 spot of the lineup. Aledmys Diaz is batting .194 in the #2 spot, .371 elsewhere. Tommy Pham is batting .105 in the #2 spot, .406 elsewhere. Randal Grichuk is batting .105 in the #2 spot, .258 elsewhere. Kolten Wong hit .188 in the leadoff spot while Fowler was out, has hit .315 elsewhere.

A bigger problem for the Cardinals is that this seems to have become a consistent thing. In 2016, the top three in the Cardinals’ lineup hit a combined .258 which ranked 25th. In fact, the Cardinals top-3 hitters haven’t ranked in the top half of the league in batting average since 2013, where they hit .298 and were ranked second. They went to the World Series that year.

The plus so far is that the back two-thirds of the lineup are carrying the team. The Cardinals four through nine hitters are batting a combined .288 on the season, best in baseball.

Martinez dominates

On Saturday, Carlos Martinez allowed just two hits and a walk over 9 innings of work and came away with a no-decision as the game remained tied at 0-0 when he exited the game. Martinez’s game score of 87 was the fourth best scored game this season and the best scored game where the starting pitcher took a loss.

You have to go back to June of 2015 where Chris Sale struck out 14 batters over 8 innings for a score of 92 in a 2-1 loss to find the last time a pitcher with a score of 86 or higher lost a game.

If I’m counting right, teams whose starting pitcher turned in a game score of 86 or higher had won their last 85 games.

And so did the rest of the starters

In addition to Martinez’s nine shutout innings, the Cardinals’ rotation was on it this weekend.

Michael Wacha was returning to the rotation after being skipped the last time through the rotation to give him added rest in the hopes it would help him avoid a recurrence of his stress injury later this season. He showed that he did not miss a beat, throwing 6 shutout innings on 4 hits and 3 walks.

For Adam Wainwright, it was important for him to come out and back up the 7 shutout innings he threw against the Cubs and turn in another quality start. And he did that, allowing 1 earned run over 6.1 innings of work.

Peralta returns

Jhonny Peralta returned to the starting lineup on Sunday night for the first time since rejoining the club on Friday. And since then, he has reached base five times in six plate appearances. Already a large improvement over his first two weeks of the season where he reached base five times in 27 plate appearances. He had pinch hits on Friday and Saturday before going 2-for-3 with a walk on Sunday.

Gonzales putting himself back on the map

Not a big league thing, but Marco Gonzales made his third start returning from Tommy John surgery over the weekend. He threw 6.1 scoreless innings of work for Memphis, lowering his ERA to 0.68. He has been dominant, allowing just 7 hits and 2 walks over his 13.1 innings of work in two Triple-A starts for a 0.68 WHIP as well.

For a team whose Major League bullpen is a complete mess, having Gonzales and Tyler Lyons on the horizon could be helpful.

Bonus: Pham story

If you haven’t already, go check out Derrick Goold’s story on Tommy Pham and how he’s dealing with keratoconus. I’ve often seen Pham giving himself his vision test and wondering why he did it and whether it was connected to his eye condition. It’s a good read of some of the struggles he’s had to work through, which makes the talent he’s shown all the more impressive.

Five things about the Braves Series

The Cardinals completed their second series sweep of the season as they outscored the Braves 21-7 over the three games, including a 10-0 curb stomping in the series opener. At 16-14, this is the first time this season the Cardinals have been able to stay above .500 for back-to-back games.

As a result, they find themselves second in the NL Central, half a game behind the Cincinnati Reds and half a game ahead of the Chicago Cubs. The Cardinals have gone 13-5 since returning home on April 17th after getting swept in new York City.

They will head to Miami tonight for a three game set. The Marlins are 13-17 and 3rd place in the NL East. They are a team looking to get back on track as they are 3-10 over their last 13 games.

Insert “Pham-tastic” level cliche here

I’ve already seen at least two since he returned to the big leagues this weekend following the injury to Stephen Piscotty. Tommy Pham was the first guy not on the roster exiting spring training and he had hit well in Memphis to start the season, but that was nothing to the show he put on this weekend.

Pham would hit a double in his first at bat this season and then add a home run in his second. He’d wrap up the series going 6-for-12 with a double, three home runs, and five RBI, including the game winning home run in the 14th inning last night.

It was good to see him hit the ground running in his return to the big leagues. I was hopeful that he’d put together a run like he has the last few times he’s come up, but stopped short of it being a foregone conclusion given how he wrapped up 2016. With Piscotty out of the lineup, Pham is playing for an opportunity to stick once he returns.

With Piscotty and Peralta likely due for return over the next couple weeks, it will be interesting to see how long Pham and Magneuris Sierra stick around. The organization has carried an extra pitcher since Peralta went on the DL, so they could change that. Regardless, Pham has made it clear that he intends to do his part to stay.

Don’t sleep on Grichuk

Randal Grichuk hit .353 with a pair of doubles and a pair of stolen bases in this series against the Braves. He had two hits in each of the three games of the series. He’s been a big part of the Cardinals’ current run. Over the last 18 games since their return from that New York sweep, Grichuk is hitting .299/.365/.448 with 8 extra base hits in those 18 games.

The bullpen is coming around

The Cardinals bullpen may still rank 19th overall in baseball with their 4.42 ERA, but over the past two weeks, they have posted a 2.83 ERA which has been the fourth best in baseball.

It was supported by yet another dominant series by the bullpen as they allowed just 1 earned run (thanks Brett Cecil) over 13 innings of work, that’s a 0.69 ERA on a 1.15 WHIP. Kevin Siegrist and Miguel Socolovich had good appearances in the series, which is a positive step for two guys who have struggled a bit this season.

Reviews not made

Twice in yesterday’s game Mike Matheny chose not to review close plays. The first was when Magneuris Sierra was picked off first base after his first Major League hit and the second was a Randal Grichuk attempted steal of third base. In both cases, at least the radio broadcast crew and Twitter seemed to think there was something worth reviewing there.

The Cardinals had the game seemingly firmly in hand with a 4-0 lead, but it makes me wonder if Matheny would have handled that differently had it been a closer game. If he’s letting off the gas because he’s leading by a few runs, that’s a problem. Hopefully he learned his lesson as that four run lead was erased by the Braves just a few innings later.

Four game winners

Lance Lynn and Mike Leake both picked up a win in the series as they won their fourth game of the season in their sixth start. That is the most wins in baseball among pitchers who have started six games. All four pitchers who have won five games this season have seven starts. Lynn will get his first crack at that fifth win Wednesday night against the Marlins in the series finale.

Beyond wins, Leake has been among the leaders in ERA this season, but thanks to his first home run allowed this season, his ERA jumped to 1.79, which is now only good for fifth in baseball. He was otherwise dominant, allowing just 3 hits and 2 walks in 7 innings of work.

Cardinals call up Pham, place Piscotty on DL

The St. Louis Cardinals announced today that they have placed RF Stephen Piscotty on the 10 day disabled list and called up OF Tommy Pham from Memphis. Piscotty was lifted early at the end of the 2nd inning of last night’s game after running out a ground ball and appearing to tweak his hamstring.

We’re still waiting for more information, but Piscotty seemed to indicate to the media last night that he was optimistic that it wasn’t too severe. However, he may still be day-to-day for an indeterminate amount of time right now, even with a minor spasm. This is the advantage of the shorter disabled list. Rather than Piscotty staying active day-to-day and wasting a roster spot. It also keeps him from pushing it to return sooner than he would if he were on the active roster.

The Cardinals will recall Tommy Pham who was hitting .283/.371/.500 with 4 home runs and 19 RBI in 25 games for Memphis this season. He has mostly played right field so far this season.

Pham has proven himself capable of putting together quality stretches in the Majors in the past. After he was recalled on August 27, 2015 to the end of the season, Pham hit .303/.379/.532 with 4 home runs over 39 games with the Cardinals. And then last summer in the month that followed the All STar Break, he hit .263/.359/.550 with 6 home runs in 28 games. Unfortunately he stumbled hard after that, striking out 23 times in 39 plate appearances to finish out the year.

The Cardinals could really use Pham to come up hot and put together one of those stretches for them.

Also pointed out by Wes Keene on Twitter. The Cardinals’ press release was worded as “outfielder Stephen Piscotty (right hamstring strain) have been placed” (emphasis added) indicating that at least the media relations department was prepared for the Cardinals to place two players on the DL this morning.

That other player was Dexter Fowler who left after the third inning with a shoulder injury. The Post-Dispatch is reporting this afternoon that the club hasn’t yet confirmed Dexter Fowler’s diagnosis though the club fears it may be more severe than Piscotty’s.

The club will also likely wait until they know what roster move they will make to correspond to Fowler’s DL trip before making that official.

Pham optioned out, likely settles roster battles

The Cardinals announced this morning that they have optioned outfielder Tommy Pham to Memphis. The move leaves them with 41 players in major league camp and likely ends the battle for the final bench spot on their Opening Day roster.

Pham, 29, hit .250/.359/.403 with 4 home runs last season in 37 games between Springfield and Memphis. He also spent most of the season in the big leagues, hitting .226/.324/.440 with 9 home runs in 78 games. He ended the season with a 39% strikeout rate which kept him from seeing the field down the stretch.

He has put together some very good stretches in the big leagues, hitting .303/.379/.532 with 4 home runs and 5 triples over the final month and a half of the 2015 season and hitting .244/.353/.479 with 7 home runs in July and August last year. Leaving some clamoring each time for a larger role on the club.

But has also struggled, as evidenced by a 40.5% strikeout rate in the second half last year. He finished out 2016 going 3-for-18 in September with 10 strikeouts.

Pham admitted this spring that he had had some vision issues last season, which would help explain the strikeouts, perhaps related to his keratoconus diagnosis, but those are corrected now.

Regardless, Pham struggled to find traction this spring, hitting .209/.320/.379 over 21 games. His option to Memphis means he will join a talented and crowded Memphis outfield picture that is expected to include top prospects Harrison Bader and Adolis Garcia.

At 29 and injuries getting in the way each time he has an opportunity to stick in the Majors, his time with the Cardinals is seemingly approaching it’s end.

The move leaves Jose Martinez as unchallenged for the final bench spot now. He has told media that he will be on the big league roster to open up the season. Martinez hit .367 this spring while playing both outfield and first base. He will likely join Jedd Gyorko, Matt Adams, Greg Garcia, and Eric Fryer as bench players on the team’s Opening Day 25 man roster.