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The St. Louis Cardinals Can't Win All The Regressing

Now you've seen a human being in this pose.
Now you've seen a human being in this pose.

You Can't Win Them All or Luck Evens Out, Eventually aren't quite sabermetrically appropriate phrases, but there's something more satisfying about them than the idea of things regressing to the mean. I think it's because there's an element of moral judgment to the first two that appeals to me, as someone who always feels bad when too many things go his way at once.

So when the Cardinals lost yesterday that irrational part of me thought, hey, why get greedy? The Cardinals can't win every game, or else you're going to get bored and you'll have to start a new Baseball Mogul franchise. They still had 10 hits, including two each from Yadier Molina, Lance Berkman, and Allen Craig, and Jake Westbrook still got his groundballs.

At no point in the Cardinals' recent losing skid have things, in aggregate, stopped breaking their way. Their expensive catcher, whose OPS+ is still 131, narrowly avoided a season-altering injury, and their first baseman just got back from one that didn't affect their offensive output at all. Lance Lynn's back-down-to-earth start was three runs in six innings. Carlos Beltran's knee soreness—that one's worrying, since Beltran's currently hitting .295/.403/.648, but it's not a disaster yet and it's just in time for us to start wondering just how Craig is going to get at-bats.

You Can't Win All The Regressing, I guess. If Adam Wainwright's going to get better—and he almost definitely is—and Lance Berkman's going to play more than seven games out of every 35 this year, and Chris Carpenter's going to come back after the All-Star Break, instead of never, then the Cardinals are going to have to win a few Jake Westbrook starts with their bats.

For all that non-fatalism, though, I like the Cardinals' rapid response to this losing streak—dropping J.C. Romero in favor of Eduardo Sanchez.

Relief pitchers have earned a lot of exceptions to our present sample-size-obsessed methods of player evaluation. If a guy looks great for a few weeks he can go from expendable roster filler to a set-up man or even a closer; if he's got great stuff as a reliever we're willing to overlook some notably terrible years as a minor league starter. Striking out a batter an inning over about 15 innings seems to be about enough for me to rely on a guy whose name I was only vaguely familiar with the month before.

And J.C. Romero could wipe out 120 excruciating innings as a starting pitcher with a 1.89 ERA in the middle of the extremely-live-ball era that will be on his Baseball-Reference page forever, which means he could also get tossed from the Cardinals' 25-man roster with eight really bad innings.

For relief pitchers sample sizes never quite seem to even out—they just don't pitch enough before they're not the same pitcher anymore, unless they're Mariano Rivera. If snap judgments about players based on limited evidence are ever useful, they're useful about the guys at the back of the bullpen.

As for Eduardo Sanchez, he's calmed down after a terrible start in Memphis and if he looks good against right-handers the Cardinals will be able to use him where they're currently using Victor Marte. I'm a little surprised this wasn't Maikel Cleto, who the Cardinals rushed into the bullpen to start this season—and who has 23 strikeouts against six walks in 18 innings in Memphis—but it looks like Sanchez didn't quite struggle enough to lose first shot at the big league bullpen.


Coming after the game (probably), since I will be asleep and thus not really in a position to give a coherent recap: Our very irregular look at some good fanposts and SB Nation St. Louis posts you may have missed. Consider this your warning to jump from the gamethread at 4:15.