Luke Voit replaced Matt Carpenter in the lineup at first base because of Matt’s hip discomfort, so this was a two Luke game.
Brent Suter was the pitcher for the Brewers at home in Milwaukee. The challenging road team, our Cardinals, gave Luke Weaver a chance. They are probably roughly equal pitchers in abilities, but Brent Suter has had himself quite a season in 45 IP. That said, his ERA, FIP, and xFIP are all completely different, so the guy is a bit of a question mark. But so is Luke Weaver.
The Cardinals and Brewers offenses are eerily similar in capability. The two team’s fWAR are identical. Even the pitching staffs have been roughly equal in production. This could be quite a matchup.
The Cardinals should have won this game if they want to succeed in 2017. But a Luke Weaver pitch was destroyed in the first inning. I suppose if they are not succeeding, they are testing out Luke Weaver. And that, is a good thing, if nothing else.
Down 1-0 in the 2nd inning, the lifeless Cardinals offense was put to the task of bootstrapping themselves into some kind of effectiveness. The team is at the point of its lifeline where it is fun to pat itself on the back about just how many games Yadier Molina insists on catching behind the plate. That said, he got a hit off a difficult pitch, so that was a nice double to add to his career total.
The Cardinals loaded the bases in the 2nd... and were gifted a run in error. Randal Grichuk was struck out after that, big surprise. But he had a showy batting practice! With 2 outs, Luke Weaver needed to capitalize. But pitchers don’t usually do that. And he didn’t. Cardinals stranded 2 in the 2nd.
With the game tied, Luke Weaver blazed through the Brewcrew. 1-1 after 2. But the Cardinals were not able to score in the 3rd. Tommy Pham had a nice at bat though. The Brewers lead off with a double... but Luke Weaver again set down the side without allowing a run.
Yadier Molina was having a good day at the plate. He looked more lively than usual with his double earlier in the game, and then hit a home run to put the Cards up 2-1.
Luke Weaver continued pitching. He carved up the first guy for his 5th strikeout. He got on base in the 5th but Kolten Wong didn’t move him forward. Pham got hit by a pitch and appeared to be in immense pain. The fact that his injury history is so extensive terrified me that he was going to be out for a while. But he stayed in as the ball just grazed him. The inning ended in disappointment as Gyorko popped up. The guy is in a deep rut hitting-wise, but has had an effective defensive year at third base.
Yadier Molina became the story of the night by the 6th inning as he hit his 2nd home run of the night! But they were both solo shots. Sequencing and timing are everything.
Jose Martinez reached out and touched some baseball and reached first base. Was the rest of the offense waking up? The other Luke, Voit, was up, and got on. But then GrichuKK struck out again. Oddly, the Brewers went to the bullpen to face the Cardinals pitcher, Luke Weaver. To continue the oddness, Weaver ran into his own bunt, which made him out because he interfered with the ball.
Kolten Wong then jacked one into right center field, resulting in two runs batted in. The offense is woke! 5-1 Cardinals. Tommy Pham walked. But that was about it for the inning. Luke Weaver continued with his rather effective pitching vs the Brewers lineup. After 6 innings with 8 strikeouts, he allowed 3 hits. If this guy is going to be able to have a 4:1 K/BB ratio and 10 or 11 K/9, even if occasionally, that’s pretty damn good.
Ok, so that’s wishful thinking, but in dark times under .500, you kind of become a Pollyanna at times. The Cards offense didn’t score more, and then Luke Skyweaver gave up his 4th hit of the game. The bullpen was brought into a warming state.
I must say that I would’ve just pulled Weaver after 6 innings, and my thoughts were proven right as Weaver’s stat line got messed up. He gave up his 2nd run of the night and was then pulled for Zack Duke:
ALERT: a Randal Grichuk walk occurred after this image was inserted.
But then, that couldn’t have happened. The GOB had him picked off, because, well, he probably actually struck out.
A bad feeling about this game was seeping into my psyche. Then Brebbia gave up a leadoff hit in the 8th inning. The announcers were commenting that “Brebbia’s stock is on the rise”. This seemed rather jinxy to me, but maybe I am paranoid overall as a person. But he retired a batter.
Alas, my Spidey Sense was correct, as Aguilar destroyed a Brebbia pitch and it was then only a 5-4 StL lead. Blargh. Only 1 out. Eventually Trevor Rosenthal was brought into this situation, and perhaps the most surefire thing in 2017 was that Trevor Rosenthal crushed the batter’s hopes of hitting. He did give up a hit in the 8th though.
Tommy Pham got a broken bat hit to start the 9th inning. But nothing really came of it. This team’s fundamentals and strategies on the field are fundamentally flawed. And have been for a while. Last year the offense was being carried by a ton of dingers. This year, nope.
But anyways, back to the good story. Trevor Rosenthal appears to have become the closer we’ve always wanted him to be. His walks are down a bit and his K’s are up. He really is one of the very best relief pitchers in MLB right now. And he shut down the Brewers in the 9th, resulting in a win. Success!
- Yadier Molina is my Player of the Game, and probably most fans’. He had probably his best game of the year at the plate with 2 home runs and a double, or 10 total bases!
- Trevor Rosenthal is my Player of the Year so far: now at 14.54 K/9, 3.53 BB/9 (room for improvement there, but better than last year), and 1.84/2.35 FIP/xFIP. All the while battling bad batted ball luck!
- Luke Weaver won me over tonight with an impressive WPA and a great start which shows promise for his future: did I mention 8 strikeouts in 6 innings?
- the umpire’s zone tonight looks like some kind of weird, shrunken trapezoid in the above strikezone graphic
- The Cardinals have time still this season with 2 months of games to play, and are just 2 games behind the Brewers and 1 game under .500
Tune into this year’s strange Mathenian .500 saga tomorrow afternoon at 1:10pm CST. Mike and his feckless friends will attempt to become both fundamentally sound and even in the win/loss column in a day game to enlighten the ages.