Carlos Silva, guys? Really? I understand that he had a nice career for a while in Minnesota and was generally underrated as a groundball specialist with excellent command. I'm just wondering if you all knew that. He struck out 11 of you. That's a career high. I thought Mark was teaching all of you about plate discipline and waiting for your pitch and maintaining your mechanics. . . He struck out 11 of you. Yes Colby, that's both hands plus a toe.
Carlos Silva. Carlos. Silva. Silva, Carlos. There's simply no way that I can combine that name with dominant in a fashion that doesn't make my robot insides hurt. He was traded (and I use that term loosely) for Milton Bradley. Someone wanted Milton Bradley and all of the crazy, wack-a-doodle crap he pulls more than Silva.
You know what really grinds my gears, when Carlos Silva shuts us out. Carlos F. Silva.
The tragedy that is a being 2-hit by Silva aside, Adam Ottavino should still be the take away story for this game. He looked excellent early touching 96 on the FOX gun on multiple occasions and maintaining velocity well into the game (94mph in the 6th). His stuff looked good with an improved changeup that was more than the show-me pitch it had been in the low minors.
Ottavino's undoing was easily anticipated as his control was touch and go. He walked batters in every inning excluding the second and handing out that many free passes is a recipe for disaster. You know things are bad when you're walking Alfonso Soriano. (Say it together, sliders away.) He did show some fortitude in working around some early errors and managed to give the Cardinals a decent volume of innings. The question moving ahead and the task that the coaching staff has is getting him back to the strike throwing machine he's been this year rather than the wild child of seasons past.
I find myself encouraged by the outing as a whole though. The defense was a problem throughout the day but Ottavino showed that he can retire major league hitters in a convincing fashion. Even with the walks and errors he still only needed 99 pitches to go through 5.2 innings. If he can regain the command he had in the minors this season, he'll fair well moving forward. I'll still take Ottavino over any other non-Garcia rookie pitcher everyday of the week and twice on Sundays.
* * *
Colby seems to have two things working against him right now. 1) He's seems to be watching more pitches than usual -- his swing % is down 7 points from last year though it remains around average. 2) He's struggling to make contact on pitches outside the strike zone. Yesterday featured a particularly nasty swing over the top of a pitch that was around his feet. There's not much in his swing profile that should make you think he won't break out of this funk -- he's streaky, this will happen -- but it's frustrating nonetheless.
* * *
Are we reaching the end of Blake Hawksworth? There's been a purported nagging groin injury since the start of the season. He had an 8 day stretch where he didn't pitch to try and let it heal. We can blame that for his poor performance but I'd remind everyone that a) he has a long history of not being able to stay healthy and b) he has a long history of not being very good.
His fastball has played better out of the pen. He's had some bad luck this season with balls in play and an unusually high number of runs. The problem is that, those things considered, he's still not very good. His peripherals just don't support a player that's worth keep on the roster to "work through" an injury or suckitis, whichever he may be suffering from right now.
At best (xFIP), he's performing at replacement level. Some (FIP) would tell you he's been a little worse than that. Others (WPA) would say he's cost us at least 1 game in his own right. More convincing voices (WPA/LI) would agree. The team should have placed him on the DL a while back. They can't support multiple rookies in the rotation with injured pitchers in the pen. Here's the real reason the 13-man pen will continue for the foreseeable future.
* * *
The heart of the order looks good on paper. Each of our primary 2-5 hitters have an OPS over .800. Somehow though that doesn't feel as encouraging as it should. I don't think anyone was hoping for Matt Holliday to have an .801 OPS two months into his $120M contract. Albert's Joe-Strauss-please-read-my-article-injuries seem to have cropped up at a time period when the Cardinals need him most. It's unfair to ask him to hit better than .937 but the offense is built around him hitting better than that. So I find myself in the unfair position of asking unfair questions. Fair enough? Ludwick and Rasmus have served as nice bookends to the highly paid sluggers but all to no avail.
My visceral reaction is that I can't recall when these players have all been hitting at the same time. I've zero corroborating evidence beyond the skimpy number of runs we've scored lately but I'm reminded of what I may have learned in statistics. I find myself in the continued position of disliking the lack of runs but having no good alternative to what the team is running out to the plate on a day-to-day basis. I love this offense on paper. I want to love them live again.