Q: What's one reason sportswriters are so mad all the time?
A: Because the storylines you want—need—to talk about, over the course of one year, almost never manifest themselves over the course of one game, even though it looks like they do.
Adam Wainwright's effectiveness is incredibly important to the St. Louis Cardinals' future, over the next six years, and on Monday he didn't look very good. He hung some ugly pitches to hitters already down two strikes, he lost velocity in the later innings, and he was ordinary, mostly, while Ian Kennedy was outstanding.
It felt like a game that was telling us something, but it wasn't—and that's why sportswriters are so mad all the time. (The pay, too.) Because that portentous Opening Day whiff brought us exactly one-thirty-fifth of a season closer to the beginning of the contract we'd like to judge with it.
Pete Kozma's future as a starter? Three plate appearances, with a walk and two strikeouts. Daniel Descalso's new swing? A hit and a strikeout. Matt Carpenter at second base? Well, he looked pretty good at third. And Ty Wigginton? Pinch-hitting against a right-hander with Matt Adams on the bench and issuing forth a groundout that was promptly isolated as its own MLB.com video, because somebody at MLB.com is making fun of us, I think.
Welcome back to the baseball season. There's way more of it, from April 1, than you remember.
Some small-sample observations worth making, or at least kind-of-making:
Ty Wigginton shouldn't pinch hit against right-handers
Or anybody else, sure, but the list of reasons he shouldn't pinch hit against right-handers in particular is even longer and a little easier to formulate without using more emotional methods of argument, like unchecked obscenity.
- Ty Wigginton has no special skill as a veteran pinch-hitter.
- Matt Adams's only role on this team, when he's not starting at first base, is to pinch hit against right-handers.
- Ty Wigginton hit .236/.281/.351 against right-handers last year, and .235/.292/.413 against right-handers the year before that, and .252/.307/.436 against right-handers the year before that, and .285/.313/.437 the year before that, but hey, .265/.322/.488, at least, five years ago.
- If you burn Ty Wigginton as a pinch hitter, he's not available to play defense or pinch run later.
Joe Kelly can throw really hard
According to Brooks Baseball Kelly threw nine fastballs—all of them categorized as two-seamers, for good measure—and averaged 96 miles per hour with them, topping out at 98.8. Since his fastball averaged 94 mph last year while he worked mostly out of the rotation, this shouldn't come as a shock.
But as much as we worry/wonder about Trevor Rosenthal impressing us so much as a reliever it's impossible to move him back to the rotation, I think Kelly's chances of making that shift are just as good. He's working from a lower base, since we're less excited about what he might do as a starter, and since he hasn't spent significant time in a relief role since college he's got the same window of surprise Rosenthal took advantage of last October.
Wainwright struck out six batters and didn't walk anybody
Just in case you were, like me, not paying attention. Last April, when we were worrying about Adam Wainwright, he had a 5.03 FIP that was almost entirely home-run-driven, and an ERA of 7.32. Monday's outing involved some near-miss fly balls, but it also took place in Arizona, where that kind of thing happens.