Results tagged ‘ St. Louis Cardinals ’
Let’s just pretend for one moment that the advent of the modern bullpen never happened. There’s no such thing as a LOOGY, Jerome Holtman never invented the save, and starting pitchers are handed the ball at the start of the game with the expectation that they will work a minimum of 7 innings. Now, I’m fairly sure the Player’s Association and a majority of the big league managers would riot if this kind of thing ever happened, but I know one place where everybody would be happy: the National League Central.
You see, apart from Pittsburgh, none of the NL Central teams have been able to cobble together a solid bullpen.The Cardinals struggles have been well-documented this year and for good reason. St. Louis currently has an ERA north of 6.00 out of the bullpen, which is good for dead last in baseball. Chicago, Cincinnati, and Milwaukee haven’t been much better ranking 20th, 18th, and 15th respectively in ERA.
But when a starting pitcher is on the mound? Look out, because each of these ball clubs has put together a quality rotation and most of them are running at full power right now. But which one of these star-studded starting staffs is the best?
St. Louis Cardinals’ ace Adam Wainwright has always been one of the best big game pitchers in baseball. Even dating back to his days as a rookie out of the bullpen, Wainwright has never let a big moment get to him. Facing Carlos Beltran with the bases loaded, 2 outs, and a trip to the World Series on the line? That’s no big deal for Wainwright, just unleash the nastiest curveball you can possible throw. How about taking on a red-hot Giants lineup with your team staring down the possibility of a 3-1 hole? No big deal, just throw 7 dominant innings.
Wainwright’s always been a big game pitcher, which made his struggles in the NLDS against the Washington Nationals a season ago all the more puzzling. In 2 separate starts the Nationals were able to chase Wainwright from the game in the early going as they piled up 13 hits, 3 homers, and 7 total runs in just 8 innings against the Cards’ ace.
Well, on Tuesday evening Adam Wainwright went out and got his revenge. The right-hander thoroughly dominated the Nationals’ lineup, throwing 8.1 breezy innings, allowing 5 hits and 1 walk to go along with 9 strikeouts. He blew through the Nationals lineup with ease, using his fastball to get ahead of hitters before finishing them off with his trademark biting curveball.
For all intents and purposes, the 2013 season has gotten off to a fine start for the St. Louis Cardinals. Their powerhouse offense is already outscoring the rest of the National League and their starting pitchers are coming off a run of epic proportions. Over the week against Milwaukee and Cincinnati, the Cardinals held their opponents scoreless for 39.1 innings straight, with 32 of those innings coming out of the rotation. Starter Adam Wainwright has been the best of all the birds, throwing 22 innings this year while striking out 24 batters and walking none in an otherworldly display of control.
But St. Louis does have one big issue and that’s shutting the door in the 9th inning. For the past couple of seasons the hard-throwing Jason Motte has taken the mound to turn out the lights for the Cardinals but it appears that he’s going to miss the entire 2013 season to have Tommy John surgery. That’s been bad news in the early going as nominal closer Mitchell Boggs has imploded just about every time his name is called, giving up 8 earned runs in just 6.1 innings of work. His latest detonation job came yesterday in Milwaukee as it took Boggs all of two batters before blowing the lead.
Thanks to the excitement of the World Baseball Classic, I haven’t had a chance to get to a question that’s really got me thinking over the past week: is there a better general manager in the National League than John Mozeliak? I’m starting to lean toward no after Mozeliak pulled off yet another coup for the Cardinals, inking Allen Craig to a 5 year/$35 million dollar deal with a 6th year/$13 million option. There are some legitimate injury concerns with Craig, who’s spent part of the last 2 seasons on the DL, but there is also some legitimate hitting chops. Craig has been a rock solid producer over his first couple hundred games, hitting an even .300 with oodles of extra-base hits. And when you factor in the going rate for 1st baseman these days — at least 15 players will make more than $10 million a year to play 1st– this deal is a downright steal.
When Cardinals starter/bulldog Chris Carpenter announced that he was going to miss the entirety of the 2013 season with shoulder numbness, it put the St. Louis rotation in a temporary state of flux. Not that this state of flux is a bad thing. Actually, it’s quite the contrary. The Cardinals have weathered injuries to key members of their starting rotation before and they appear more prepared than ever to replace their long-time workhorse. A plethora of young, talented, and hard-throwing starting pitchers stand ready to take Carpenter’s place, which should lead to an intriguing battle for the last couple of spots in the Cards’ rotation. The candidates:
With a dominate 9-0 victory yesterday against the St. Louis Cardinals, the San Francisco Giants became just the 6th team in baseball history to overcome a 3 games to 1 deficit in a League Championship Series. Matt Cain helped lead the way, throwing the 3rd consecutive shutdown start in a row for Giants. Marco Scutaro and Pablo Sandoval rapped a couple more hits a piece, and the baseball Gods smiled once again on the zany Hunter Pence, who’s gutty efforts have come to define San Francisco’s comeback mentality. When all the smoke had cleared and Matt Holliday’s infield pop up was sitting safely in the glove of NLCS MVP Marco Scutaro, the celebration was on in San Francisco. By edging out the Cardinals for National League supremacy, the Giants improbably clinched their 2nd World Series berth in 3 seasons, and they have given themselves a shot at another ring. I’ll look ahead to the World Series tomorrow but for now I want to analyze how San Francisco was able advance pass the Cardinals against the odds, and it all goes back to the mid-season pickup of a 36-year-old journeyman shortstop.
After yesterday’s late-game heroics in Washington and New York, the first round of the 2012 playoffs has been deemed a rousing success. Thanks to Jason Werth, Manny Machado, and JJ Hardy we were guaranteed to have all four Divisional Series end with game 5′s. The first two game 5′s were full of excitement as well. In the National League, the Giants completed their comeback from 2-0 down thanks to some nifty bullpen work and a Buster Posey moonshot grand slam, while over in the AL, Justin Verlander struck out 11 A’s en route to a 6-0 win. Tonight we have another pair of fantastic looking pitching match-ups on our hands. In New York, the Orioles nominal ace Jason Hammel takes the mound against former Cy Young winner CC Sabathia in a series that’s featured surprisingly little offense thus far. In the nation’s capital, Cy Young candidate Gio Gonzalez looks to give Washington its first playoff series since the 1924 World Series. He faces Adam Wainwright, who was one of the top-3 pitchers in the National League in 2009 and 2010 before having Tommy John surgery a year-and-a-half ago. San Francisco and Detroit await in the League Championship Series. Let’s take a look at which aces are best suited to punch their team’s ticket to the next round.
“The infield fly is a fair fly ball (not including a line drive nor an attempted bunt) which can be caught by an infielder with ordinary effort, when first and second, or first, second and third bases are occupied, before two are out. The pitcher, catcher and any outfielder who stations himself in the infield on the play shall be considered infielders for the purpose of this rule.
When it seems apparent that a batted ball will be an Infield Fly, the umpire shall immediately declare Infield Fly for the benefit of the runners.” -MLB.com Rule Book
The inaugural Wild Card round (affectionately known as the Coin-Flip Round) takes place today and will feature a pair of exciting games. The first game on the docket matches up the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals with the Atlanta Braves, while game #2 has the Baltimore Orioles traveling to Arlington to take on the Texas Rangers. I suggest you cancel any plans you previously had for this afternoon/evening, because do-or-die baseball is here, which means that last year’s World Series combatants could be eliminated tonight. Let’s start by taking a look at the series over in the National League.
Barring a massive change in the playoff winds, the St. Louis Cardinals will be taking their repeat tour down to Atlanta to kick off the National League playoffs next Friday. Atlanta enters the final stretch week with a Wild Card spot already clinched, whereas St. Louis’ magic number is down to just 4 and their 3.5 game lead over Milwaukee and Los Angeles appears to be held with an iron grip. So, with the do-or-die game just over a week away, which pitchers should both franchises be looking at to make the pivotal, playoff-opening start?