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Mike Leake Seeks His First Win As A Cardinal Pitcher And Neither Succeeds Nor Fails

The Cardinals looked to take the rubber match of a three game series in sunny San Diego. They did with an 8-5 rather eventful win. Siegrist gets his 3rd win of the season.

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS SAN DIEGO PADRES
Matt Carpenter - 3B: 1/4 2BB, RBI
Jon Jay - CF: 0/5, R
Stephen Piscotty - RF: 0/5, 3K
Wil Myers - 1B: 2/3, 2BB, R
Brandon Moss - 1B: 0/3, BB, 2R
Matt Kemp - RF: 2/5
Randal Grichuk - CF: 3/5, 3RBI
Melvin Upton Jr. - LF: 1/4, 2RBI
Yadier Molina - C: 1/4, RBI
Brett Wallace - 3B: 0/3, BB
Jeremy Hazelbaker - LF: 0/5
Alexei Ramirez - SS: 2/4, RBI
Jedd Gyorko - 2B: 3/5, 2R, RBI
Jemile Weeks - 2B: 1/3
Aledmys Diaz - SS: 3/5, HR, RBI
C. Bethancourt - C: 1/3, 2RBI
Mike Leake - RHP: 1/2, RBI
Colin Rea - RHP: 0/2

Greetings, VEB'rs! I am subbing on a Sunday. Somehow every recap I have written this year has coincided with a Mike Leake start. I'm a lucky guy sometimes, but this is weird. Leake has not been exactly what we wanted so far this year: 5.71 ERA. There is a bright side though, his FIP has been 3.53. His xFIP indicates what he will probably be more like this year: 3.83.

What Happened

Mike Leake had a great chance to right his ship today. The Padres were making errant throws left and right, outfield and infield. The Cards handed him a 2-0 lead after the first inning because Melvin Upton Jr. apparently has very little accuracy when he has to throw to home plate. He got it there, but it was off the mark, allowing runners Brandon Moss and Randal Grichuk to score (both of whom probably should have been out). Mike Leake the pitcher got through the first unscathed...

Oh hey, here's video of a Randal Grichuk RBI!

And a Yadier Molina RBI!

The Padres served up more errant throws in the 2nd, this time from infielders. However, the Cardinals were not able to take advantage of the situation this time. Mike Leake allowed some hits and the Cardinals had their own bad throw from the outfield that resulted in a run, the bad throw coming from right fielder Stephen Piscotty. With a runner at first and 2 outs, the Padres pitcher was up at the plate. Leake was able to buckle down and strike out his counterpart.

Every Jeremy Hazelbaker at bat is epic this year. Even when he grounds out I'm paying close attention.That is what ended the third inning for the Cards offense. For Mike Leake, he began the third by striking out a guy with a pitch that had some nice movement: looked like it was headed inside and up but ended up just at the top of the middle of the strike zone. About when it looked like Leake was locking in, he gave up another run in the third due to some pesky Padres hitting. Nothing flashy, just putting the ball into play and making contact. Things can happen.

What saved Leake in the third from further damage was a spectacular play by someone unexpected: Jedd Gyorko doing a Kolten Wong impression. Very nice play. Aledmys Diaz also executed a play at shortstop this inning and everything seemed right with the world for a few seconds.

Gyorko was not done impressing yet. He has been taking it to his old stomping ground this weekend. Yesterday it was 3 hits, a home run, and 3 RBI. Today's double was his first extra base hit that wasn't a home run, according to VEB'r mojowo in the gamethread. Oh hey, Mike Leake flashed the bat today! Knocking in Gyorko for an RBI with a single laced just outside the reach of the Padres middle infield. Piscotty struck out to end the inning.

Cardinals were up 3-2 going into the bottom of the 4th, again handing Leake a lead. He did not keep it though, he gave up a home run to someone named Christian Betancourt, whom I was unaware of prior. I guess he's a catcher. Leake was pissed, but the damage was already done. Tie game!

By the time the 5th inning rolled around this game seemed like it had already been in extra innings. It just seemed like it had been tied for a while for some reason. Leake had no outs in the 5th, and runners on first and second base. Now was as good a time as any to see what he could do to buckle down and shut down the offense. He used his main asset as a pitcher pitching and induced a double play with a groundout, so all the sudden there were 2 outs.

However, the groundball and the not so excellent defense came back to bite him, as Aledmys Diaz failed to make a play that would have been a stretch for him to make as a not-plus defender (just how much of a minus will appear to determine his fate as a major leaguer, he seems to have the hitting thing down!). Regardless, the score was 4-3 Padres with more of their singling. Leake then hit a batter so he was again at runners on first and second.

Alexei Ramirez belted one which was hit over the infielders heads and wasn't their fault. He had floated what looked like a curveball in the middle of the plate. This allowed a runner to score again. Another dang single! If his stuff or command are not good enough to avoid bats, he's going to have some problems. That said, Leake has looked a smidgen better with each start.

Well let's take a gander at the sixth. Jedd Gyorko, destroyer of San Diego was up to bat, and what did he do? He clobbered the ball again! Welcome to the Cardinals my friend! Aledmys Diaz was up next, and he wanted to prove something... that if he messes up with the glove, he will do something about it! Back to back dingers! Wow!

Gyork'd!

Diaz dinger!

The back to back home runs knocked the Padres pitcher out of the game. Buchter was the guy out of the bullpen. With Carpenter on first and 2 outs he hit Brandon Moss in the arm, which looked like a rather painful hbp, bringing up Randal Grichuk. Grichuk had a good eye at the plate but ended up swinging through a pitch in the zone. He is seeming like a good three true outcome hitter (according to VEB'r purple_haze in the gamethread, I agree).

In the 6th inning, Stone Buddha was implemented. The Padres didn't stand a chance. Oh is so good! He is like his own featured inning. His 14.39 K/9 and 1.57 FIP are elite bullpen material.

"Hazelraker" had a plate appearance in the 7th. He continued his slide by striking out and is making a case for possible demotion (although I like him as a bench player... and would prefer an Adams demotion). Other than the big pinch hit home run last night, he has been lost at the plate for a while now.

Kevin Siegrist has become one of my favorite bullpen pitchers. He quietly goes about striking mother truckers out. He has 2 wins out of the bullpen in 7 IP and a very high K/9. The only difference with Oh besides being a lefty is that he throws flames and has no earned runs and only a fraction of a FIP rate to report. He left the game today with a 12.04 K/BB ratio.

Thanks to CrimsonStorm94 in the gamethread, the final numbers on Siegrist (fun with early season sample size!) are now 14.09 K/9. 1.17 BB/9, 0.33 FIP.

Going into the 8th the game remained tied at 5-5. Adams pinch hit and did hit his way onto first base. Then our batting hero Matt Carpenter sent him all the way home! It was a long run for Adams but he made it and scored. Due to the positioning and overall hurtness of Kemp (he is not the guy he used to be) Matt Adams was able to score from first. Then the Padres intentionally walked Moss to get to Grichuk, which was a bad move. For the Jaguar God ripped another double into the center field area that he prowls when not destroying baseballs. This resulted in run scoring! When all was said and done, the 8th inning left the Padres down 3 runs. 8-5 Redbirds.

But there was more 8th inning going on. Broxton was the Cardinals guy, Big Pants Broxton. He walked a guy to start out. Fastforward a bit and Brandon Moss made one of the laziest plays as a first baseman I've ever seen. He looked like he was downtrodden and in slow motion going to step on first base, and the Padres guy hustled like all hell and somehow beat him to the bag, when he should have just pounced on it and got him out.

This meant that there was only 1 out in the inning and runners at first and second. Mike Matheny challenged the call and wasted a challenge since he actually did beat Moss by a split second. I wrote that before the challenge was over, I was so certain he was safe. It was close though.

Broxton didn't have very good control today or much help on defense... but he fought through the inning and did not allow a run to score. On to the 9th!

Hazelbaker quickly had a 1-2 count against, virtually every at bat he does this. He struck out again. It didn't matter because Gyorko was up and we were ahead by 3 runs. Jedd already put us ahead. He did ground out this time though. Speaking of hitting heroes, Aledmys Diaz came up, already 8 for 10 for the series. He singled and decided to be 9 for 11 for the series. This is getting freaky. The ball left his bat at 108 mph on this one and the infielder didn't know what to do with it. Wasn't an error, it was just annihilated. Matt Holliday got in on the action too and chopped one out of the infield. However, it was still 8-5 going into the 9th inning.

Trevor Rosenthal was brought in to the game, to close since he's a closer. Hitting the upper 90s again! Mowing freaks down! It is easy to gush about lesser knowns Oh and Siegrist, but how about our closer? 21 K/9 going into today's game in 6 IP. Matheny hasn't had to overuse him really. Today though he got squeezed by the ump a bit and let some hitters on base. Matt Kemp had some babip luck on his hit, but regardless runners were on first and third with one out. The Padres pitching may not be very good but their batters and offense pushed themselves and made it difficult for the Cardinals today. Pesky.

Rosenthal's achilles heel is that he will walk some guys. He looked pretty sloppy today after the Padres started to threaten to score some runs. It looked like the ump might have given Rosenthal a pitch back against Norris, what looked like a walk ended up a strikeout for Rosie. Trevor really belabored it today, but ultimately didn't give up any runs either. Cards win!

What a weird and eventful game! But they won! That was probably too much detail but a lot of stuff happened today.

+Pluses+

  • Leake reminded us today that he is not a one dimensional pitcher: dude can hit and field really well.
  • Other than Leake, the additions that Mozeliak made that seemed like non-factors before the season began, have continued to impress. Oh is nearly light's out and is making a case still for his other nickname, Final Boss (watch out Rosie! this guy is serious). Gyorko is one of the best hitting middle infielders in the game in 2016 with 4 home runs so far in limited playing time. And Aledmys Diaz as fates would have it is on the roster causing mayhem with the bat and the glove (luckily for us, mostly with the bat!). Diaz is doing his Pujols impression at the plate with a wRC+ well north of 200.
  • Alexei Ramirez has looked like a very solid shortstop as a Padre this weekend. He made a fantastic catch to rob Brandon Moss in foul territory.
  • Aledmys Diaz looked like he might be able to stick at shortstop today. The ball that people lambasted him about was a scorched one, and he actually almost got to it enough to knock it down.
  • After the game, Aledmys Diaz's line for the season is 263 wRC+ with a .380 ISO and 8 doubles! Forget Hazelraker, Aledmys is the real raker. Half of his hits go for XBH (he has 3 HR and a triple too). He seems like a great mix of speed, contact, and power. (Wish you were here, Oquendo!)
  • Cardinals bullpen: Siegrist got his 3rd win of the year already. As a whole, the bullpen is 2nd to the Mets in FIP and 2nd to the Nats in ERA in the NL.
  • Matt Carpenter had the highest WPA for the Cardinals today and had a triple, and Grichuk had the most RBI with 3. Carp triple.
  • Will Myers and Buchter on the Padres had the most WPA for their squad.
  • Cardinals are 2nd in wRC+ as a team and first in the NL at this time... the Pirates and not the Cubs are right behind them.
  • Grichuk RBI double

-Minuses-

  • The bad throws looked mostly the result of rushed throws, where the players bodies were still moving quite a bit when the throw was made. Maybe there was haste in the air today.
  • More bad Cardinals middle infield defense... they started the worst middle infielders to go with Mike Leake today. Gyorko in particular made a big error which lead to runs. Aledmys Diaz is also not your best shortstop... actually I would start him each game except Leake games. C'mon Matheny.
  • Upton was tossed from the game though I missed why he got himself kicked out.
  • Padres pitcher B. Maurer had the worst WPA of the day giving up 3 hits and a walk in 1 IP... well, besides Cardinals starting pitcher Mike Leake who had a -.440 WPA,
  • Cardinals defense is probably the worst infield defense in the NL. Lots of errors and negative UZR.
  • Cardinals starting rotation has been middle of the pack with an ERA north of 4.0. Silver lining is that their FIP predicts better. Bad news is that their xFIP is about the same as their ERA.
  • Piscotty and Hazelbaker 0-10, didn't really help on defense either

Graphs

The ump was weird (thanks to flyerdog11)

Mike Leake's pitch f/x

Stone Buddha p/fx

Siegrist p/fx

Broxton p/fx

Closenthal p/fx


Source: FanGraphs


Check out how goofy the ump was today on twitter