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First Half Pitching

So we got the big 4 game series w/ the Cubs started last night w/ a fair, by Carp’s standards, pitching performance, w/ Wellemeyer, Wainwright, and Lohse to come in the next 3. This follows a sterling pitching performance from whoever this Pineiro character is Wednesday afternoon. The pitching is going to be a key to the 2nd half of the season and how far we go in the postseason if we’re fortunate enough to make it. Over the first half of the season, there just haven’t been too many teams who’ve pitched better – at least from their starting rotation – than we have.

Below is a list of all the teams in the majors who have 3 starters who are 20 or more runs above replacement level at this point in the season.

That’s it. 3. There are, of course, pitchers who’ve been outstanding and who have more RAR than Pineiro -- #1 on our staff – (Verlander, Lincecum, Halladay, etc.) but there are only 3 teams in the majors w/ 3 starters who are 20 or more runs above replacement. The Tigers, btw, have 2 who are 30+ RAR (Verlander and Edwin Jackson). The point, of course, is that we’re going to be tough to beat if we’re getting outstanding pitching performances 3 out of every 5 games. Plus, we’re getting Lohse back from the DL and while he’s no star, he’s gotta be better than Brad Thompson. (This isn’t to say, of course, that we wouldn’t be better w/ Halladay in our rotation.)

So let’s compare the Cards’ starters w/ the other teams in the NL Central.

Cards RAR Brewers RAR Cubs RAR Reds RAR Astros RAR Pirates RAR
Pineiro 27.7 Gallardo 16.7 Lilly 18.6 Harang 16.9 Rodriguez 19.4 Maholm 20.0
Carp 22.7 Parra 4.5 Zambrano 16.2 Cueto 11.3 Oswalt 17.9 Duke 15.6
Wainwright 20.5 Suppan 1.8 Wells 15.8 Volquez 2.6 Hampton 8.9 Snell 5.9
Lohse 7.0 Looper -3.6 Dempster 13.4 Owings -0.5 Ortiz 4.9 Ohlendorf 5.4
Wellemeyer 0.3 Bush -3.7 Harden 3.2 Arroyo -2.0 Moehler 0.3 Morton 4.3

The totals for the teams’ 5 starters are as follows:

  1. Cards – 78.2 RAR
  2. Cubs – 67.2 RAR
  3. Astros – 51.4 RAR
  4. Pirates – 51.2 RAR
  5. Reds – 28.3 RAR
  6. Brewers – 15.7 RAR
Some caveats – 1 is that this represents what these pitchers have done and isn’t necessarily predictive of what they’ll do in the 2nd half. Still, I’d rather be sitting at 78.2 than 15.7. The second caveat has to do w/ injuries – Dempster’s out for a month, Volquez is out for God-knows-how-long, Oswalt had to leave his start last night w/ finger numbness, and Lohse is just returning from the DL, of course.

Pitching’s going to play a huge role in who wins the division and, even w/ Dempster’s injury, the Cubs are still scary. We saw last summer what Harden can do, despite his problems last night and, really, throughout the first half. They’re going to be tough. But you have to like where the Cards stand w/ just 3 games to go before the All-Star break.