after watching the team struggle in some low-scoring games against the cubs, it was a great relief to see the veritable explosion of hits last night, leading to a 13-1 victory.
the club's overall offense has been outstanding, ranking fourth in the majors by team wOBA, trailing the rangers, the yankees, and the red sox, which is pretty much where we finished last season.
we actually lead the majors in fWAR due to some fairly dubious SSS defensive statistics.
we also look very good by pitching stats; we are sixth by total pitching fWAR, but SECOND by xFIP - which is maybe a slightly better measure, given the sample size issues. our success has been due in no small part to our major league leading walk rate, 2.02 BB/9.
the durability of the starting rotation has been nothing short of amazing; lohse, lynn, and westbrook are all averaging almost exactly 7 innings per start, with garcia a hair behind them. wainwright, of course, has had a series of difficult starts that lead to a lower inning count.
disabled list round-up
i've seen a lot of questions about the various residents of the cardinals' disabled list, so i thought i'd collect the statuses here.
skip schumaker has returned and made a few starts in the field.
jon jay returned last night and had a good evening in the field and at the plate. tellingly, he was left in even as matheny switched out most of the regulars. one assumes that if jay's shoulder continued to ache, matheny would have made it a priority to take him out of the game before holliday or beltran.
chris carpenter says he feels stronger, but still has no timetable for return. watch for them to be extremely cautious about the timing of carpenter's return. first, the rotation isn't exactly begging for his return. second, and far more important, there's a very real chance that a failed attempt to return will spell the end of his season and maybe his career. the cards want to make sure that his return comes at a time that gives him the best chance to perform. whether that's in a month or two or three, they'll wait till the best possible moment.
allen craig is midway through a minor league rehab stint. jenifer langosch reports that he is due to join the club on tuesday, but rick hummel claims the club has a more tentative schedule and has backed off plans to push him. in any event, he is eligible to return whenever - he's far over the 15-day schedule.
craig took his first game with palm beach on april 20, so he has up to 12 more days in his minor league rehab assignment. thus far, he has appeared exclusively as a dh. if he returns next week, look for conservative management of craig's condition. we are likely to see him at first base or appearing as a pinch hitter. alternately, they could keep his rehab assignment going through next week and test his knees in the field.
lance berkman was put on the DL on april 20th, retroactive until the 19th. he is not eligible to return until thursday, and he has not tested his calf yet.
look for more info early next week on both berkman and craig. while matt carpenter is no one's ideal first baseman, he's holding his own (and his walk rate increased from 3% to 10% in the last week). the club can and should wait until berkman and craig are REALLY ready to come back.
scott linebrink is throwing off a mound. i know y'all are holding your breath for his return. jenifer langosch states that linebrink will take the scenic route in any return to the club, going through a full rehab assignment before any major league appearance.
perhaps the more surprising thing than the cardinals' success so far has been the collective underperformance of its rivals in the sample size thus far. the reds have a .294 team wOBA, compared to a team .321 wOBA last year. the reds and brewers also have almost matching team FIPs - 3.74 and 3.78, despite the vast disparity last season (4.37 v. 3.59). the brewers are a more balanced team. greinke, marcum, and gallardo should be one of the best trios in baseball. randy wolf's performance is really dragging the team down; unfortunately, we will not get to see him this time around. on the offensive side of the ball, the swapping of fielder and mcgehee for ramirez and gamel has not hurt the team on the offensive side as of yet (.329 wOBA this year v. .327 last year).
of course, it's still early. close scrutiny shows a lot of trends not likely to continue. i'll be surprised if bronson arroyo remains the most valuable starter in the reds rotation (second in value only to an astonishing aroldis chapman, reliever). acquisition mat latos has looked pretty ordinary so far, with a 4.57 xFIP to start the season. and corey hart's .457 wOBA is only surprising until you see that carlos gomes has a .453 wOBA, or george kottaras has a .543 wOBA.
regardless of the sample size, though, these games still count. and every game we get to play against a division rival is a chance to put up a more substantial lead in the division.
an early game today means the gamethread will be up (i hope) around 11:40.