The state of the staff

Well, that’s 2 at home against the 23-32 Rockies – last place in the worst division in baseball – and we’ve been outscored 21-5. That’s an ass-whipping in football. In baseball, it’s unspeakable. I really don’t want to talk about the offense. What more needs to be said? We need a third baseman. Rasmus needs to play. Duncan has no power and Ankiel has limited ability to get on base and I don’t see a lot of hope that Ankiel will change his approach or that Duncan will suddenly regain his power. The heretofore pretty bad Aaron Cook and Jorge DeLaRosa shut us down. Since April 26, the team has slash stats of .235/.306/.387. We’ve walked 111 times and struck out 231 times. Stunningly, we’ve hit 37 HR in those 37 games (Albert has 11 of them) and are 18-19. Even more stunningly, we’re still 7 games over .500 and just 1 game behind the Brewers in the NL Central. We can attribute that to our pitching which, almost equally stunningly, has been very good.

Only the Braves’ starting pitching has been better than the Cards so far this season, Wellemeyer’s futility notwithstanding. The pen hasn’t been quite so good, as we found out Friday night, but if the starters continue to pitch well, it may not have to be. Our starters have thrown more than 67% of the team’s innings so far this year and have an FIP of 3.67. Our pen’s FIP is almost a run per game higher than the starters at 4.53 – 12th in the NL. See for yourself:

S-Inn R-Inn S-Inn% S-FIP R-FIP
Ari 326 172 65 4.50 3.81
Atl 318.2 158.1 67 3.53 3.61
Chc 315.1 142.2 69 4.12 4.86
Cin 330 159 67 4.70 4.11
Col 313 160 66 4.25 4.19
Fla 309.1 199 61 4.46 4.13
Hou 301 179.2 63 4.32 4.90
LAD 319.2 190.1 63 3.83 3.88
Mil 319.1 165.1 66 5.15 3.74
NYM 308.1 165.1 65 4.10 3.61
Phi 301.2 173.1 64 5.30 4.46
Pit 327.1 141.1 70 4.54 4.84
SDG 306.1 175.2 64 4.40 4.23
SFG 315 155.1 67 3.88 4.09
StL 329.1 160.2 67 3.67 4.53
Wsh 295 178.2 62 5.01 4.70

The bottom line is that, compared to most of the other NL teams, we’re getting a lot out of our starters. They’re pitching relatively deep into games and pitching quite well, by and large. But the success of Carpenter, Pineiro and, of late, Wainwright tends to mask the problems that the bullpen has had. If you look at their ERAs, most of them don’t look too bad. However, if you look a little deeper at their peripherals you’ll notice that some of them – particularly Franklin, McClellan, and Perez – haven’t pitched quite as well as we’d like to believe.

K/9 BB/9 BABIP FIP
Motte 7.54 3.57 .286 2.79
Franklin 6.86 2.14 .188 3.71
Thompson 3.68 1.23 .298 3.82
Boyer 4.96 2.76 .260 3.94
McClellan 6.92 4.85 .196 4.33
Reyes 9.82 4.30 .321 4.37
Miller 9.00 2.40 .287 4.54
Perez 11.21 7.13 .264 4.84

There’s no way that Franklin’s or McClellan’s BABIP will be sustainable throughout the season and Perez has to get that walk rate down if he’s going to get meaningful innings going forward. On the bright side, I’m starting to believe that Jason Motte, Friday night’s meltdown notwithstanding, is the real deal. I hope I’m right.

Related to the bullpen, perhaps someone out there can help me understand this. On Friday, we DFA’d Blaine Boyer – a guy we traded Brian Barton for just a month ago and a pitcher who’s better than at least Brad Thompson and possibly 1 or 2 other guys in the pen – so that we could recall Jess Todd from Memphis. He’s pitching well at Memphis and is going to help our pen, right? Um….no. The plan from the beginning is to call Todd up FOR 1 GAME ONLY!!!!! To do this, we have to add him to our 40 man roster, thus leaving only 1 spot vacant, AND start his arbitration clock. We did this so that he could pitch 1 game in relief – in a game we lost 11-4. After that one game, we send him back to Memphis – again, this was the plan all along – and recall starter Blake Hawksworth, who’s been pitching well for the Redbirds. Rather than having him start in Lohse’s spot Monday, he goes into the pen and reliever Brad Thompson will take Lohse’s start instead. Now, Hawksworth ostensibly couldn’t be called up a day early b/c he last pitched on May 31. Then we used him for 2 innings on June 6. Could we not have used him for the 1.2 innings that Todd pitched on June 5 and kept the space vacant on the 40 man roster? Could we not have kept Boyer on the roster 1 more game and kept the space vacant on the 40 man roster? What in God’s name is going on? And still, despite the fact that our starters are throwing more than 2/3 of the innings – a greater % than at least 9 other NL teams – we still insist on keeping 8 relievers in the pen while allowing Wainwright and Wellemeyer to pinch hit! Some of this absolutely defies explanation. There was absolutely no need to add Todd to the 40 man roster or start his clock. We could have used Boyer Friday night or DFA’d him and called up Hawksworth and used him instead. I know it’s tantamount to heresy to question the Cards’ roster management but some of this is absolutely absurd! And yet somehow we’re 7 over .500! Wow!

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