How Heavily Have the St. Louis Cardinals Relied on Rookie Pitchers?

Dilip Vishwanat

Last night, the Cardinals had rookie pitchers throw 8 2/3 of the game's 9 innings. Such reliance on rookies has become more and more common this season.

St. Louis Cardinals rookie starter Michael Wacha started last night against the Cubs. After five innings, Cardinals rookie bullpenner Seth Maness came on in relief. Rookie southpaw Kevin Siegrist handled the seventh inning. Siegrist gave way to Trevor Rosenthal in the eighth, who blew the save opportunity. In relief of Rosenthal? The longest tenured veteran on the club, Randy Choate. But he only threw 1/3 of inning and was then relieved by rookie Michael Blazek.

The rookie hurlers accounted for 8 2/3 of the innings pitched in the Redbirds' nine-inning loss to the Cubs. Such occurrences have become more common as the 2013 season has progressed. It's common knowledge that the Cards have relied heavily on rookie pitchers. I thought we might take a look at just how heavily they've relied on them this year.

Cardinals pitchers have notched 1,032 2/3 innings so far this season. 360 1/3 of those innings have been thrown by rookies. 672 1/3 of those innings have been tossed by non-rookies (which I'm going to refer to as "veterans" even if Lance Lynn has not quite reached that indefinable level of veteran gamey-ness). Rookies have thrown over one-third of the Cardinals' 2013 innings.

The rookies have given the club a mixed bag in terms of results. Some have been very successful. Shelby Miller is a cornerstone of the rotation. Trevor Rosenthal, Seth Maness, and Kevin Siegrist have established themselves as key bullpen pieces. Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha have given the club mixed results. Tyler Lyons has not pitched well. Nonetheless, the rookie brew as a whole has been quite good to date.

2013 ST. LOUIS CARDINALS ROOKIE PITCHING STATS

Rookie

IP

K/9

BB/9

HR/FB

ERA

FIP

xFIP

S. Miller

121.2

9.79

2.60

9.1%

2.89

3.10

3.31

T. Rosenthal

54.2

13.01

2.30

6.7%

2.63

1.97

2.39

S. Maness

42.0

4.29

1.71

15.4%

2.36

3.36

3.17

T. Lyons

38.2

6.05

2.79

9.3%

5.35

4.13

4.33

M. Wacha

22.2

7.15

2.78

10.3%

4.37

4.11

4.15

K. Siegrist

20.1

11.07

3.98

5.6%

0.89

2.70

3.29

K. Butler

20

7.20

4.95

0.0%

4.05

3.25

5.46

C. Martinez

16

7.31

3.94

7.7%

6.19

3.92

4.23

J. Gast

12.1

5.84

3.65

8.3%

5.11

4.02

4.31

M. Blazek

8.2

10.38

9.35

20.0%

8.31

7.20

5.80

M. Cleto

2.1

19.29

3.86

50.0%

19.29

8.19

3.80

S. Freeman

1.1

0.0

0.0

0.0%

0.00

0.05

2.12

Total

360.3

8.79

2.93

8.6%

3.59

3.46

3.71

Manager Mike Matheny and his coaching staff deserve credit for breaking in so many rookie pitchers this season while still experiencing success on the field. Entering play today, el Birdos are 66-50, which has them 4.0 games behind Pittsburgh in the division and 2.0 game ahead of the Reds for the first Wild Card play-in berth. St. Louis is 4.5 games ahead of the Diamondbacks, who are in third place in the Wild Card. As the weather cools, it will be interesting to see if the rookies are steeled by their usage this season or if they fade due to the demands of the marathon that is the MLB regular season.

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