By: Jim Tsapelas
Knowledgeable fans of baseball, or for that matter any sport, realize the season is full of ups and downs. The season is full of winning games, and full of losing games. The 2016 Season of the St. Louis Cardinals has proven that reality many times over.
The starting pitching has been, at best, somewhat effective, yet inconsistent, as starter Mike Leake (0-3) is still looking for his first win among six starts this season. Leake’s 6.03 ERA is high. Leake has thrown thirty-four and one third innings, allowed thirty-seven hits, twenty-three earned runs, walked nine, struck out 22, and has a WHIP of 1.34. Leake’s strike outs to walks 22/9, is a good ratio. His whip is reasonable. Leake’s 2016 Fielding Independent ERA of 5.11 in contrast to his 6.03 ERA, may indicate that he is pitching better than what his record indicates. Leake is recognized as a historically slow starter. In the past, his numbers have improved as the season progresses.
Thursday’s winner, Jaime Garcia (2-2), threw the game of his career against the Milwaukee Brewers on April 14th. Garcia threw a one hit shutout gem where he walked one and struck out thirteen. Garcia followed this up with a two to one loss on April 19th, to the Chicago Cubs. A no decision to the Arizona Diamondbacks on April 25th, in a slugfest eventually lost by the Cardinals to the D-Backs twelve to seven; and a six to one loss to the Washington Nationals on April 30th.
To say the Cardinals starting pitching corps has been inconsistent is somewhat of an understatement. The Cardinals’ Ace, Adam Wainwright (2-3), and Michael Wacha (2-2), have experienced what are arguably individual rough starts to begin their respective 2016 season. The most consistent starter has been Carlos Martinez (4-1),who is Friday’s starter, against the Pittsburgh Pirates, .
Through twenty-nine games, the Cardinals offensive statistics are:
Interestingly, at the end of play on Thursday, the Cardinals either lead or are near the top in all major MLB offensive categories. The Cardinals lead MLB in runs, home runs, total bases, runs batted in, and on-base slugging percentage. They are second in MLB in hits, doubles, triples, and slugging percentage. They are fourth in MLB in on base percentage; and their .270 team average is sixth best in MLB.
In Thursday’s contest against Philadelphia, the Cardinals’ Stephen Piscotty hit his MLB leading fifteenth game hit-with runners in scoring position.
The bullpen, with few exceptions, has performed well and, at the end of Cardinal play on Thursday, ranked eleventh in MLB. The reliever corps has combined for a record of five wins against three losses, with a .292 ERA, with five saves, and seventy-seven innings pitched. The bullpen has allowed twenty-eight runs-of which twenty-five were earned, allowed thirty-two walks, struck out eighty-five. Through the first twenty-nine games, opponents are batting .218; with the relievers on the mound.
With the win against the Phillies on Thursday, the Cardinals are 15-14, one-half game behind the second place Pirates; six and one half games behind the first place Chicago Cubs.
Twenty-nine differing starting lineups in twenty-nine games is not an ideal way to start a season. Spring Training is where lineup experimentation most usually takes place; not in the regular season. Five different individuals have started at first-base. Included in the “who’s on first” merry-go-round have been Yadier Molina, Matt Holliday, Brandon Moss, Matt Adams, and Stephen Piscotty.
The Redbirds lead MLB by committing twenty-four errors in 1062 total chances. The Birds on the Bat have been consistently inconsistent so far this season.
Spotty starting pitching, a feast or famine offense, Manager Mike Matheny’s ever changing line-ups, add to what many believe may be a less than stellar year for St. Louis. Only time will tell.
It is hard to develop a team rhythm with ever changing and ever revolving position players, and an ever changing batting order.
On Friday the Cardinals face the Pittsburgh Pirates who swept them in the first three games of the 2016 season. Francisco Liriano (2-1) takes the bump for the Pirates. The Cardinals counter with Carlos Martinez (4-1) in a 7:15 PM (CT) start at Busch Stadium.
Thanks for reading!