First, let me again apologize for my absence from writing for a while. I have been way, way busier than one person should be. It also took me a little while to get this work together. That said, I read a post over on Viva El Birdos by Joe Schwarz about Jon Jay a while ago. I might need to specify since he writes about Jon Jay about as much as I write about Peter Bourjos, if not more. In this particular one, titled “Appreciating Jon Jay”, he talks about whether or not Jay is a streaky hitter in one of the sections and he tells us his methodology for this:
“To get this information, I manually sifted through Jay’s game logs from 2010 through 2014, available on Baseball-Reference, and broke each season down into consecutive ~50 PA chunks.”
Ok. But what if Jon Jay has a hot streak in career PAs 25-75? or a cold streak in career PAs 620-685? Joe’s methodology would cut that right in the middle of it, essentially eliminating the streak, because it would even itself out in his calculations. Also, what if the season ended in the middle of one of the chunks? You can’t simply add together how a player was hitting at the end of one season to the beginning of the next with any kind of continuity. Joe told me on Twitter that was his way of eliminating selection bias, and although that formulation is easily calculated, there are other, better ways to go about this, that in reality don’t have any selection bias.
So, what I did was went to the same site, the same game logs for Jon Jay and went through them manually as well, but I started each season with the first ~50 PAs of the year, and went through the entire season looking at what his batting average was for the past ~50 PAs. It wasn’t perfect, and it fluctuated between the last 48-52 PAs for the most part depending on how many he got in a game, but this will give you a much more accurate picture of how streaky he is.
I graphed this out over the year, and I even gave him more leeway than Joe did. Joe said a cold streak was .240 or lower, and a hot streak was .350 or higher. I decided that .225 would be a cold streak and .375 would be a hot one, and here’s what I got (these graphs are in order from 2011 at the top to 2014 at the bottom). I put reference lines in the graphs for basically his career average (.300) and the two numbers I said above (.225 and .375). If you assume above the top blue line is hot, and below the bottom blue line is cold, then in the middle would be “normal”.
In 2011 and 2012, it looked like Jay was nearly always on a hot streak or a cold streak. There was little to no consistency, because the times where he was in the middle of the graphs was basically just the transition period between the hot streaks and the cold streaks where the two would even each other out for a time. In the last two years, however, he’s been a little more consistent, but I emphasize that little. He still had very hot streaks and very cold streaks (he nearly went .500 for 50 PAs recently, and in 2013, he was under .100 for over 50 PAs), which are more extreme than his hot and cold streaks in the first two years, but he was able to be consistently in the middle just a little bit more.
Now, I hear you saying in the back of my head, “But Ben, aren’t most hitters hot and cold hitters. Nobody just sits at their average all year long.” Well, for that, I did two more graphs. Both were from last year, and let’s start with Matt Holliday. Holliday is considered one of the more consistent hitters on this team, and his average last year, .300 was right at where Jay’s career average basically sits. Now. we do also know that he had a good second half last year, so look for that as well.
Now, as you can see, he only really has one really cold streak, one that dipped pretty low, but was short, and one that barely edged below the line. And if you look at the second half of the graph, we do see that he had a real hot streak around just after the all-star break and one at the end of the year, but he was right in the middle most of the year. He was in the “normal” zone of the graph much more than Jay was, and stays there, especially at the beginning of the year.
Finally, let’s look at last year’s Matt Carpenter. I choose this one because he all generally thought he was a hot hitter last year. I did adjust his graph because his average last year was .318, so that makes hot .393, and cold .243 for him.
As you can see, he had one very hot streak, one very cold streak, and other than a few outliers, he was right in the middle most of the time. Again, much more consistent than Jay was.
You can look for yourself and make your own conclusions, but I can say without a shadow of a doubt in my mind that Jay is a streaky hitter, and he is much more streaky than the other guys I looked at, and I would suppose he could be more streaky than others as well.
I have to say that when the winter olympics come along every 4 years, I get encapsulated within the world of curling. It has little to nothing to do with the fact that the Cardinals swept the Reds, except that when I hear “sweep”, I just think of the guys and gals yelling it down the ice.
Monday (6-5 W/10)
Hero: Jhonny Peralta. 3-5 with 2 RBIs and a run scored. Matt Adams had nearly the same line, but Adams only hit 1 in. It also helps the the second one that he hit in just happened to be the walk-off winner.
Zero: Kolten Wong. Only starter without a hit. 0-5.
Notes: Justin Masterson has been looking a bit better recently, and it looks like AJ Pierzynski might be helping him. 4 runs in 5 innings doesn’t seem great, but compared to what it had been his first couple of starts, I’ll take it, I guess. Still doesn’t mean that I necessarily like it, but since he had that one really good start, I’m giving him a chance.
Rosenthal blew a 1-run lead in the top of the 9th, and he has been so close to the edge so many times that it’s starting to bring out the boos from the crowd. I think he’s been ok, but give a guy a very slim margin, even the best of guys aren’t going to be perfect every time.
Tuesday (5-4 W)
Hero: Jon Jay. Only Jay and Lackey were the two that multiple hits. Jay went 2-3 with an RBI and scored twice. Add to that the fact that he was in the right spot at the right time to get a walk-off HBP, it’s his.
Zero: Tony Cruz. Like Wong the night before, only starter without a hit. I’ve been all for guys getting off days, but AJ has been getting too many recently. Cruz is a decent backup, but he shouldn’t play nearly as much as he is when AJ’s been around .300 since he’s been with the Cards.
Notes: John Lackey seemed to be on cruise control…until he wasn’t. Only 2 of his 4 runs were earned, but I’m still hoping that it doesn’t take late inning heroic to get him off the hook every time.
Wednesday (7-3 W)
Hero: Lance Lynn. If it wasn’t for the rain, he might have gone 8, but 7 scoreless innings was one heck of a night.
Zero: Let’s also go to the pitching side for the zero: Carlos Martinez. He came into the game after the rain delay, and gave up 3 runs. could have given up more, except that Mike brought in Rosenthal, who walked the bases loaded, but got his 2 outs for a crazy save.
Notes: If it’s a night of quantity vs. quality, Jay had the quantity: 3-4 with 2 runs and an RBI. Peralta had the quality: a bases-clearing double. Even Bourjos got in on the fun with a double that he turned into a triple on a throw home to score Descalso and Jay brought Bourjos in.
The Brewers went 1-1 to the Toronto Blue Jays. That halves it from 3 games back to just 1.5. Hopefully the Cardinals can continue to gain ground as I’m not completely sold on the fact that they won’t win this division. Let’s see how the weekend in Philly goes while the Brewers spend their time at home against the Pirates. The Pirates have been scuffling, and they have fallen so far out of first that either this weekend will sink them completely, or they’ll fight through and they might just help the Cardinals out. We’ll just have to wait and see.
There’s a number of people who have come out gushing on Jon Jay again. Someone have been there all along. I’ve made it no secret that I am a fan of Peter Bourjos. Partly because he is good enough to play every day. His bat isn’t as weak as some people think, and his defense is stellar in a position that defense is a premium. You can stick bad defenders on the corners of both the infield and outfield, but up the middle (SS, CF, C) is where you want good defense. Now, people say that numbers don’t lie, but sometimes they can.
I feel like I have to write disclaimers because these are the things that can get a firestorm on Twitter. I don’t write this because of a personal vendetta towards Jon Jay. He’s a decent guy from what I’ve heard, and I have never had a bad experience with him. I am writing this piece solely because I want to give people context to all the great pieces that others are writing about him. That said, let’s dig in.
First, the numbers that people are pushing out now are very highly pumped up due to his recent hitting. We’ve all known for a while that Jon Jay is a streaky hitter. He’ll go through hot and cold streaks and there’s no real way to tell when those things will happen, but he’s on a very, very hot streak right now. If you would have asked about Jon Jay’s numbers before he hurt his wrist, he’s hitting .289/.347/.368. In the 13 games since he came back, he’s hit .417/.532/.639, which has pushed his average up 15 points, his on-base up 26 points, and his slugging up 33 points. That means his OPS (which most look at for hitting) has gone up 59 points in just two weeks. That’s a huge jump. It’s now 4th highest on the team, jumping two spots from 6th place.
He’s been hitting more doubles and homers recently as well. In these 13 games, he’s hit 2 of his 3 home runs this year as well as 2 of his 15 doubles. Within the slugging percentage, there is an inherent batting average as well. If you take that out, you get ISO, and Jay’s is 0.97. ISO is used to just look at how good a player is at hitting extra bases, and Jay’s ISO has jumped, but he’s still 3 points below the “poor” range according to Fangraphs. And it’s also nearly 20 points lower than any other player that’s currently on the Cardinals roster. Basically, anyone else on the roster is going to hit extra bases more often, but Jay gets more singles.
Finally, Jon Jay has a knack for getting hit with baseballs. This is partly because he has no idea how to move out of the way of a pitch. If you want to move out of the way, you scoot back or lean back depending whether it’s going at your upper or lower half. Instead, Jay, along with many other people in baseball turn their backs to the pitch to try and get hit in a better location like the back or the rear end. Now, Jay is tied for being hit by a pitch the most times in the major leagues at 14. If you were to take that down to a much lower number, let’s just say 4 or so (which seems to be about middle of the pack this year), his on-base percentage drops by 30 points to .343. That’s still good, but it makes a stark difference, including taking him from safely in second on the team to 2 points above 4th (Yadi) and 6 points above 5th (Peralta) on the team.
I’m hoping that gives you some context on Jon Jay’s inflated numbers right now. If you were to poll me a couple weeks ago and ask what I though of him, and poll me again, my opinion hasn’t changed. He’s had a great couple of weeks, and I appreciate that, but you can’t use his batting stats now without the disclaimer that he hasn’t been this good all year. He’s been fine for most of the year and just had a fantastic couple of weeks. I have a theory that these weeks are because of the rest that he got when he hurt his wrist, but even then, if the law of averages is correct, he’ll come back down to earth eventually.
That’s what the Cardinals twitter page was calling the Padres all weekend. Let me assure you, there wasn’t anyone named “Tuck” that made it to the field.
Thursday (4-3 W)
Hero: Jon Jay. 2-RBI double to break the tie in the bottom of the 8th inning, a pinch-hit appearance.
Zero: Matt Holliday. He hasn’t been doing great recently, and it was finally enough to be able to sit him on Sunday. Little did it help his 0-4 appearance Thursday.
Notes: Lackey wasn’t bad either. Gave up 2 runs early, but settled in very nicely to get through the 7th. Peralta had a 2-run bomb as well.
Friday (4-2 W)
Hero: Lance Lynn. Since none of the hitting games really stick out to me, I’m going to go with Lynn for going 6 innings of 1-run ball.
Zero: Shane Robinson. With Taveras in the doghouse, Robinson got another start, going 0-4.
Notes: If Lynn wasn’t the hero it would have been Peralta or Adams, both who went 2-4 on the day. Neshek got the save, and it wasn’t easy, either, as he gave up a homer.
Saturday (9-5 L)
Hero: Matt Adams. Again, not any one that’s really sticking out to me. Three players each went 2-4 with a run scored and an RBI. I’m giving it to Adams because he’s the only one that didn’t strikeout in his other two ABs.
Zero: Kevin Siegrist. Matheny didn’t give him much of a chance to not be the zero. After Siegrist loaded the bases, possibly when he gave up the first two. But giving up the grand slam that broke the camel’s back, that’s zero-worthy.
Notes: Shelby Miller wasn’t very good either. 4 runs given up, but he did manage to get through 6 innings. There were other people that could have been zeroes as well: Wong’s 0-5, AJ Pierzynski 0-4. That’s some bad performances.
Sunday (7-6 W)
Hero: Matt Carpenter. 3-4 on the day with 3 RBIs and 2 runs scored, including a home run. If it wasn’t for him, this game probably doesn’t go the Cardinals’ way.
Zero: Oscar Taveras. 0-4. He’s not been getting any better recently. I was hoping to see some improvement from him, but he’s just not. I don’t know exactly why, but I think that maybe sending him to Memphis for just a couple of weeks might help. I think sending him down will get his confidence up, and let him get some good coaching from people that has helped him succeed before. Bring up Pham and let him have a shot, then just before it’s necessary to make the postseason roster (the 30th or 31st) bring Taveras back up for Shane Robinson.
Notes: Wainwright wasn’t as good as I was hoping him to be. He got a quality start because one of his runs was unearned, but I have just come to expect more from our ace. Not a terrible game by any means, though. Rosenthal was actually pulled from a save situation when he loaded the bases. Maness let two of the runs score, but then again, he’d already thrown about 3 innings in the bullpen with how much Matheny had him up and down, up and down, and then up and in the game. That can’t be good for his arm. In the end, they got the W and that’s all that really matters, right?
At the time that I’m writing this, the Brewers are up 7-0 against the Dodgers, going for a sweep, meaning that the Cardinals will still drop one game in the division over the last 4 days, which I didn’t expect when the weekend started. I think it’s less of the Brewers being “for real” but more about the fact that the Dodgers don’t have Uribe and Ramirez. Kershaw gave up 3 runs in 9 innings without giving up a walk and struck out 11, but lost the game 3-2 because they couldn’t score themselves. Let’s hope that the Brewers don’t have the same kind of luck when they start playing all these games within the division.
First, I would like to apologize to my reader for the inconsistent writing. Between the Lookouts winning 11 in a row and my Master’s thesis research heating up, plus some other things that have come up, it’s getting a little harder to get time to write. But here’s the quick hits from the Marlins series:
Monday (6-5 L)
Hero: Matt Holliday. 4-4 with an RBI, walk, and a run scored. That’s one heck of a night. Sad that it came in a losing effort.
Zero: Shelby Miller. This year, he’s had two main problems: walks and long balls. The last few starts, he’s been able to keep the walks down, and also looks like he’s trying to keep the ball in the yard. This time, he did give up 2 walks in 5 innings, but it was the 2 long balls to Stanton and the 5 runs he gave up that was the main problem.
Notes: Don’t let the 1-run score fool you, it wasn’t close until the 9th inning. For most of the game, the Marlins were up by 2 or 3 except for the random time that they actually tied up the game for about 5 minutes. Although, I would have hoped that with 12 hits, they could have gotten more than 5 runs. It’s not a bad night of scoring compared to what I’ve been used to, but I would have still hoped for more.
Tuesday (3-0 L)
Hero: Mark Ellis. Yes, it was that bad of a game, that the best Cardinal in the game was a guy that hasn’t played in forever, as well as the fact that he was playing a position (1B) that he hadn’t played much. But half the hits (2 of 4) of the offense was the best performance there was.
Zero: Pick a number.. any number… In seriousness, though, the offense was pretty bad. I’m going to narrow it down to 0-4s, and more specifically Matt Carpenter and Matt Holliday. Carpenter is in the leadoff role, and it’s his responsibility to get on base. But it’s Holliday’s responsibility to get people in when they get on base. I’m going with Holliday for two reasons: 1 strikeout to none, and 3 left on compared to 2. Really could be either, though.
Notes: Adam Wainwright wasn’t his fantastic self, but he wasn’t terrible by any means. A quality start, giving up 3 runs in 7 innings should be enough to at least make for a competitive game, but not when it’s these Cardinals. It shouldn’t have been that bad, except for a ball that just wouldn’t hook foul. It didn’t matter in the end anyways, because you still can’t win a 0-0 game.
Wednesday (5-2 W)
Hero: Justin Masterson. I was telling a local sports guy (who’s a Pirates fan) at the Lookouts game last night that if Masterson didn’t turn it around this start, I would be ready to call it a bust. He certainly did that, going 7 scoreless, and generally looking good while doing it.
Zero: Oscar Taveras. The only 0-4 of the night was his. It’s not like he’s been doing great recently, either. It’s because he’s new to the majors, and I think he’ll be fine in the end, but he’s not doing much right now. He’s now right at 150 PAs, and he’s hitting .206/.247/.284. This month, he’s hitting .195 in 45 PAs, so it doesn’t look like he’s heating up. I wrote yesterday about bench usage and rest. I think it might be time to give him a few days off in a row. Maybe a series on the bench would be just right, with some time in the cage to work on whatever is plaguing him. I don’t want to bench him permanently, but putting Jay in right and Bourjos in center seems like it might be good for a little bit.
Notes: The Brewers lost their series to the Cubs, but the Pirates won theirs. That means the Pirates are a half game ahead of the Cardinals while the Cards still sit 2 back of the Brewers. If the Cards can do something good this weekend with the Padres in town, and the Dodgers can take care of the Brewers at home (with another chance to get Grienke and Kershaw against them. Grienke lost to them last weekend, but Kershaw beat them, so I’m hoping the Dodgers can crush them all weekend. We’ll just have to see what happens, but I still like the Cardinals’ chances to win the division, if they can pull together some semblance of an offense, and sooner rather than later.
I put this out on Twitter, but I’ll say it again on here for good measure. There is one big issue that is plaguing the Cardinals, and that is the bench. It’s both in bench construction and in bench use. Mo is to blame for the construction, and Matheny is to blame for its use, and both are separate but huge issues.
I know that I’m not the most intelligent person in the world when it comes to baseball, but I’d like to think that I have a relatively good head on my shoulders. When it comes to bench construction, you want to see a couple of different things. First, you have to make sure that you have people to back up at every position: a catcher, an outfielder, and an infielder. Many times, you don’t have an infielder that can play every position, and so you have a backup middle infielder, and a backup corner infielder. This leaves one more spot open, and most of the time you can fill that with either a late innings defensive replacement or a heavy hitter.
There isn’t a ton of people being waved out there for bench spots, nor was there alot on the free agent market this offseason that I saw. Mo got Ellis, and at the time, I thought that was going to be a good person to acquire, but that isn’t turning out like I had hoped. In either case, there is a need, and it’s not going away. If I were Mo, here’s how I would make up the bench: Bourjos/Jay (I would prefer Jay to be on the bench, but that’s another argument entirely) to be the backup outfielder, Ellis (yes, I know he’s not good this year, but they’re not going to get rid of him now) as the backup corner infielder, Cruz to be the backup catcher, Kozma or Garcia to be the backup middle infielder, and either Xavier Scruggs or Randal Grichuk to be a big bat on the bench. That’s not entirely too far from what the Cardinals have on their bench right now, but there are a couple of changes.
You could also possibly get away with Cruz backing up 1st and 3rd, or Cruz 1st and Kozma/Garcia could get 3rd as well. That would clear a bench spot for another bat, but I’d stick with the earlier plan. You could also make more radical changes, like a bench that consisted of Pham as the 4th outfielder, Cruz as the backup catcher/corner infielder, Kozma or Garcia for middle infield, and bring up a couple of heavy hitters. I don’t see Mo canning both Bourjos and Ellis, though, nor would I probably do that either. But the point of the conversation is that there are options and depth, but they sit down I-55, and not on the waiver wire.
The other problem is their use. This is not only about the bench players, but also about the starters. The starters need breathers every now and then. Holliday played in every game except 1 in the first half of the season, he got an extended break over the All-Star break, and he came back with a fury. Wong hurt his shoulder, got a rest, and came back hotter than Hades. Matt Adams, same thing. Many people thought that Adams and Wong had to do with Memphis, but I think it mainly had to do with rest. Since this offense is anemic, Matheny thinks that he has to keep putting out there all the heavy hitters every game, and he can’t take them out pretty much ever. That’s why Carpenter and Peralta got to DH this last weekend. But DH-ing is not a day off at all, and burning out the starters is not going to help the offense at all.
Once upon a time, Tony La Russa used to have his “Sunday Squad”. Every Sunday, he’d empty the bench and give the regulars a day off. Rest for the weary so that they could stay sharp, and a day in the game for the bench players so they could stay sharp. Matheny isn’t doing anything like that, and I think it’s hurting the team. Yes, this offense is bad, but there are still ways to get starters rest, and at the same time keep most of the lineup intact. There are 7 days in a week and 8 position players. That means that you can have 1 starter on the bench for 6 games and 2 for the only other one, and give each of the starters a breather. Also, if a game is close and late, not only do you have the big bat on the bench, you have a starter on the bench that you can call on if you need to.
That also gives Bourjos 3 starts a week, Ellis 2, Kozma/Garcia 2, and Cruz 1-2. The reason that I’d say Cruz would vary is because catching is harder than the other positions. I would give him something like Sunday start, then Friday start, then start again the next Wednesday, and then back to Sunday again. It’s closer to a start every 4-5 days than anything. At the same time, because all we’re really talking about is trying to figure out who is hitting in the 8th spot in the order is going to be (remember, you only really need to give 1 bench player a start in most games), you’re not really affecting the offense so much that the regular starters shouldn’t be able to score runs without 1 of them in the game.
I don’t think it’s that radical of an idea or too hard to get your head wrapped around, but Matheny has yet to do either a “Sunday Squad” or a rotation of bench players like I suggested, so maybe it is. If Matheny can’t figure out how to use a bench properly, then maybe he needs to take a lesson from someone or he needs to be sent off, as it’s more of a key to team success than I think people realize. Mo needs to dip into Memphis’ depth as well, instead of trying to find guys on the waivers that aren’t doing so hot anyway. I’d rather give one of them a chance to succeed than take a chance on a guy who has tried and failed once already.
It was a crazy series. Not very exciting on this side of things.
Friday (12-2 L)
Hero: A.J. Pierzynski. There were only 4 hits on the night, and A.J. had one of them, and his was the only one to save it from being a shutout, smacking a 2-run shot.
Zero: Justin Masterson. 5 runs in 2+ innings, and although that was just the beginning of the downhill slide for the Cardinals, it was just that: the beginning. Mo said on the radio on Sunday morning that they thought he could make some adjustments in STL, but if he doesn’t make any soon, it’ll be moot since he’s only going to be here until the end of the season.
Notes: Greenwood got called up Friday morning, and so it was nice he was there to pick up 3 innings, even if he did give up 4 runs in those innings. Freeman gave up 3 in the 6th, and with that, the Cards were in a deep hole. I was advocating sending in a position player to pitch after that, but instead, Matheny put out Choate and Maness for the last two innings. The bullpen was already going to be taxed, but Matheny kept running out relievers, with no off day coming until the 21st. It hasn’t hurt yet, but we’ll see if it does.
Saturday (10-3 L)
Hero: Jon Jay. 2-RBIs. Home Run.
Zero: John Lackey. Lackey gave up 9 runs in 5 innings. That’s bad. I can’t say why either, but then again, the Orioles have had success against Lackey. I said before the series started that the Orioles would have an advantage in that the Orioles had seen the first two pitchers the Cardinals had sent out, but the Cardinals hadn’t seen the opposing pitchers. I think Matheny tried to line it up to have them be able to not have to hit at the plate, but that had a slight disadvantage to it as well.
Notes: Lackey saved Matt Adams from a terrible zero. He went 0-5 and left 8 people on. He put the ball in play 4 of the 5 times, but it was still a bad day at the plate. Descalso got his first start in a very long time, and ended up going 3-3 with a walk. Good for him, but it seemed like he was trolling the Cardinals.
Sunday (8-3 W)
Hero: Pat Neshek. I haven’t given him as much credit as he deserves this year, but sometimes middle relievers can be lost in the shuffle, but pitching 2 innings in what was a close game at the time, striking out 4, it was a great outing.
Zero: Tony Cruz. The only starter without a hit, in fact, the only player to reach the plate without a hit. 0-5 with 3 strikeouts. That’s pretty bad.
Notes: There were quite a few good hitting performances as well. Kolten Wong went 4-5. Peter Bourjos hit a 3-run homer in his only AB. Peralta went 3-4. Jay was 2-3. It was a pretty good day all around, even if they were nearly all singles.
Lynn didn’t have a stellar performance, but compared to the other two starters, he was a god. He gave up 2 runs and had another come around after he left, but he only went 5.2 innings. That’s not what I’ve come to expect from him lately, but it isn’t a bad day’s work.
The Dodgers couldn’t do their job as well as I’d like, losing two of three against the Brewers, and that means the Cardinals came out of the weekend with one more game to get back to get to the top. Still only 2 games back, though. The Pirates are 2.5 back. Let’s see how this Marlins series goes. If they can bounce back, they can start heading back towards the top. I still sincerely believe that the Cardinals can win this division based on their schedule the last few weeks of the series.
If there is any bright spots in the last couple of games, it’s that there seems to be a bright future at 2B for Kolten Wong.
Wednesday (2-1 L)
Hero: Shelby Miller. 7 innings of 1-run ball is a great game. It’s terrible that the team couldn’t pick him up. It’s only the 4th time in his 23 starts that he’s gone 7 innings, and one of those times he gave up 4 runs, so that one wasn’t ideal.
Zero: Jhonny Peralta. There were plenty of people to look at here, because the offense was terrible. When you only give up 2 runs in a game, you would hope that the offense can give you a lift. Jhonny had one of the 0-4s on the night, and left 3 on as well, so I’m giving it to him.
Notes: I know that there is a thought that I should give the zero to Rosie. I mean, he did give up the winning run in the 9th, but I’m putting that mainly on Matheny and his use of Rosenthal. Coming in to pitch, he had pitched in the last 3 games, and 4 of the last 5, with there only being an off day between. It was pitch, no pitch, pitch, pitch, off day, pitch, and then Matheny decided to bring him in again. Matheny’s either getting set in his mind who he’s wanting to use and not deviating it, or he’s only trusting a couple pitchers right now, but either one is going to be bad.
Thursday (5-2 W)
Hero: Kolten Wong. 3-4 on the night, with 2 solo homers and scored a run his other hit as well. The homers didn’t win the game, but they took the 1-run lead into a more comfortable 3-run lead, and that was very nice.
Zero: Matt Adams. 0-4 with 2 Ks was the worst line on the night.
Notes: Adam Wainright struggled through the first few innings, but settled in nicely after that. He ended up going 7 innings, giving up 2 runs. I will say this, however: he should have only gone 6. With the fact that he’s been fighting elbow tendonitis, and the fact that he threw so many pitches in the early innings, he should have been done at 95. If he was sent out for the 7th, he should have been done when he walked Pedroia with 2 outs. He took Cespedes to a 3-0 count but struck him out anyway. I’m glad it worked, but honestly, I don’t like Wainright having to do that. It was the most pitches that he’s thrown in an outing this year, and that includes 3 complete games (even though 1 was an 8-inning outing). There’s no excuse for how much Matheny has been abusing these pitchers. I’ll be surprised if some of them still have arms attached by the time the playoffs come around.
The Brewers also split their last two games, and so the Cards are still just 1 game back. I think if the Cards can take 2 of 3 this weekend, then they’ll be at least tied for first when Monday rolls around. The Brewers take on the Dodgers, and face Beckett, Grienke, and Kershaw this weekend. When the Cardinals faced those three last month, they were 0-3. If the Dodgers do what they should, then the Brewers should lose at least 2. There’s a small possibility that the Cardinals will end up getting sole possession of first with a series win, though. If you want a preview of the Orioles series, then you should sign up for the Bird’s Eye View, and I’ll be sending that out later today, but before the games start.
I really thought that the fight had been let out of this team earlier in the season. Everyone loves a clubhouse where everyone’s buddies and there’s a chumminess in the air, but this season, it’s looked like the team hasn’t had any fight. It hasn’t had any of that edge. It’s been well-noted, and a portion of the fan base has thought that the signing of AJ Pierzynski might have helped, but maybe a clubhouse shakeup was just was the doctor ordered, no matter who it was that started the revolution. Last night, they showed some fight. Also, however, Matheny showed his inability to correctly manage a game, again.
The Cardinals struck first, with Matt Adams driving in Matt Holliday. With all the production that we have been getting from the “Matt”s this year, I’m really excited that the Cardinals kept ahold of Matt Adams. There was a rumor that he was in the middle of a possible trade to Colorado for Tulo in the offseason, and I was one of the few that was completely against sending him off, even if others said “we’ve got Craig”. Looks like it was a great non-move now.
Lance Lynn has been getting much better in the last month or two, and he’s certainly stepped up his game. I have been one of the biggest critics of Lance Lynn over the last few years, but even I’ll admit that I think he’s turned a corner. If he continues to pitch well, I’ll continue to appreciate it, but I’m a very cynical person in the first place, so it’s hard for me to trust his results just yet. That said, Matheny hasn’t been doing him any favors. Lynn has been one of the guys that throws 120 or so pitches a game, and it’s one of the reasons that he’s gotten as many innings as he has, because he gets left out there longer than most. I don’t agree with it, and it’s starting to show why I don’t.
In Lynn’s last couple of starts, nearly as soon as Lynn has gotten to around 100 pitches, he’s gassed. He’s not as sharp, he’s getting hit hard, and the other team is scoring because of it. Last night, he enters the 7th inning with what I remember as close to 95 pitches (someone may correct me on that), and he allows the first two hitters to get on base. The bullpen has been going, and after a sac bunt and an intentional walk, it was definitely time to go to the bullpen. Instead, Lynn bobbles a ball hit right back to him, and that lets the tying run score. Finishes the game with 116 pitches and nearly a L.
Last start, he enters the 6th with nearly 100 pitches, walks the first two batters he faces. Should have been pulled from the game, he’s left in, gives up a run in the inning, loses the game. Two starts before that, he enters the 7th with about 100 pitches or so, gives up two straight doubles. Was pulled (which was actually the right move this time), even though the other runner came around to score, nearly lost the game.
Lynn should be limited to only 100 pitches or so right now, because whether it’s the fact that the new way he’s pitching is harder on his arm and he’s getting more tired early, or it’s the fact that he throws too many pitches and it’s coming back to him, he’s not being effective at all after he throws 95-100 pitches.
Wong singled home the pinch-hitter Shane Robinson, who walked, but got to second before that to take Lynn off the hook, but it was the hero of the night, AJ Pierznyski who scored the winning run to cap off his night. 2-3 with a walk, run scored. A pretty good night.
I will make a side note, it was Jon Jay who hit Pierzynski in. It was Jay’s only hit of the night, going 1-4. Here’s what I have to say about it: Jay got a hit at the right time. So did Bourjos the first couple of games he was back. He had RBIs both times and a run scored the next game. He did finish the last two at 0-6 combined, but here’s my thought: right now, against right-handed starters, you’re going to get both guys to average about 1-4 at the plate. Sometimes that hit will be meaningful. Sometimes it won’t, but I’d still much rather have a guy with stellar defense out there than the guy who doesn’t.
I don’t think Matheny cares much anyway, though. In last night’s game, Holliday was ejected (rightfully so) for getting upset and throwing his bat because of a terrible strikeout. Robinson had already pinch-hit for the pitcher, and so it made sense just to leave him in and move the pitcher’s spot down. Well, when the game came back from commercials, Robinson was in left, and Jay was in center. The guy who everyone knows has better range and defensive skill was in the corner, and Jay, who is an average defender with less range was left in center. That makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
The Brewers kept their 1 game lead in the central by beating the Giants, and the Pirates lost to the Marlins, and so the Cards sit still 1 back and 1.5 ahead of the Pirates in both the central and the wild card. Tonight will be the most interesting matchup of the series, as Shelby Miller goes up against new Red Sox pitcher Joe Kelly. In about 9 months, they’ve gone from being in each others’ weddings to facing off against each other. The big question is what kind of friendly competition they’ll have for each other. Yadi had crackers left at the plate for his brother. Will Miller leave Kelly something on the mound? Will one of them get a hit off the other and make some kind of joke or even a friendly wager unfold later about it? It’ll be interesting, that’s for sure. I look forward to seeing it unfold.
The Cardinals had their next shot at the Brewers and that means a shot at first place. Here’s my look on how it went.
Thursday (6-2 W)
Hero: Oscar Taveras. The same day that the Cardinals trade away Craig and basically hand the reins to Oscar Taveras, he sends a two-run bomb out of the yard. I don’t think that’s much of a coincidence.
Zero: Jhonny Peralta. He was the only starter that didn’t get a hit.
Notes: Shelby Miller had a great start: 6 innings, 2 runs, 3 hits, 0 walks. That’s a great start, and possibly hero-worthy, but the two runs came by 2 solo homers, and so I declined to give it to him.
The trade deadline was fast, and there were a couple of deals the Cardinals made. I will talk about them as they come up, so don’t expect a full post about it from me. Others have had their posts about the trades. Make sure you check their posts for their looks at the trades.
Friday (4-7 L)
Hero: Matt Carpenter. Two hits, including a triple, and driving in 3 from the leadoff spot is an impressive game.
Zero: Adam Wainwright. If there was one game that I thought the Cardinals could win, it would be Waino day, but he wasn’t his normal self. He gave up 7 runs in 5.1 innings, and that bad night made for the loss.
Notes: Holliday hit another homer, and I think that the All-Star Break did him some good. He’s doing considerably better in the second half, but it’s not because of the narrative that he is always better in the second half, but I would think that it’s mainly because of the fact that he’s tired, he needed rest, and the break was just what the doctor ordered.
Saturday (9-7 W)
Hero: Kolten Wong. Wong hit is 7th homer of the year. Besides that, he got two other hits, two other RBIs, and scored another run. One heck of a night by any standard.
Zero: I flip-flopped on this one a couple times before settling on it, but I’m going with Peter Bourjos. He went 0-4 with a strikeout, and only Carpenter was hitless besides him, but that’s with a 0-2, run scored, and a RBI.
Notes: The other guy I looked at for the zero was Justin Masterson. He’s one of the two new starters that the Cardinals have. Giving up 5 runs would be a loss most other nights, but he got support, and that’s probably the only reason he got the W and the only reason he wasn’t the zero. His ERA was already at 5.5-ish when he got here, and one start in, it’s still going north. Hopefully, the Cardinals can get him right, and it’s likely that they can since he came off the DL for this start.
Sunday (3-2 W)
Hero: Oscar Taveras. I was going to go with Adams because he got 2 hits, but Oscar hit the game-winning RBI, and so I’m going to go with him.
Zero: Matt Carpenter. He and Wong both went 0-4, but since Carpenter leads off, that breaks the tie.
Notes: John Lackey also added a W in his first start as a Cardinal. It didn’t look good, as he exited the game down 2-0 in the bottom of the 7th, but the Cardinals were able to rally for 3 runs to get him the win that he deserved. 7 innings of 2-run ball is a great outing, especially for a first shot at the new rotation. It looked shaky when he gave up the two runs in the first two innings, but he settled in very nicely.
The wins put the Cardinals just 1 game back of the Brewers, with the Pirates losing on Sunday, they’re 1.5 games back. It’s going to be an interesting race, and it looks like it might go down to the wire. I have a good feeling that the next couple of weeks will be hard on the Brewers, and that’s mainly based on the fact that the next two weekends, they face the Dodgers at home and then the Dodgers away. That’ll squeeze them if the Dodgers can get back to their winning ways, although, that said, the last two games they lost 7-3 and needed a walk-off to win against the Cubs. We’ll just take it one day at a time, and there are still plenty of games left to go.