To say that Spring Training is meaningless is not quite true. It’s mostly true. It’s mostly said so that we do not in any way, shape, or form use the stats in any sort of statistical analysis. It is obviously useful to the players so that they can use spring training for whatever they need to do to get back into game playing mode. It can also be very important for players on the fringe, players in position battles, and non-roster invitees trying to get the team’s attention.
Ten games have been played in Spring Training. If you’re unfamiliar with how the Cardinals, and I assume most teams, have used those first ten games, here’s a good indicator. The team’s two best hitters, Paul Goldschmidt and Matt Carpenter, have 12 plate appearances each. The team leader in PAs is Rangel Ravelo, who will not make the team. The priority is currently not to play the starters. Just because the starters aren’t playing much doesn’t mean there aren’t any interesting performances thus far though.
The Starting Pitchers
For a starter guaranteed to make the rotation, you just need to stay healthy in my book. Miles Mikolas, Michael Wacha, and Jack Flaherty have each pitched in two games and are set to pitch a third. Carlos Martinez, on the other hand, still hasn’t thrown and seems unlikely to be ready by Opening Day.
Those four, if healthy, were making the starting rotation no matter what. They aren’t the only pitchers prepping to be a starter. John Gant, presumably the guy who replaces Martinez until Alex Reyes is ready, has pitched 5 innings. He has 5 hits allowed, 2 walks, and 2 strikeouts with one earned run. Now I feel dumb providing commentary to these stats due to my above statements, but I would strongly prefer that he pitch better so I can feel better about him being the default 5th starter. (If you’re confused, a 2:2 K/BB ratio over 5 IP, despite one earned run, is not good.)
Adam Wainwright’s start has been encouraging: 5 IP, 2 ER, 4 Ks, BB, 5 H, HR. Maybe don’t allow a home run every start, but if you can do that over a full season, I will take that. Yes even him only pitching five innings. Austin Gomber has allowed three runs on three home runs in 4.2 IP, so he’s clearly still working out the kinks. Daniel Poncedeleon has allowed six earned runs in 3.2 IP with more walks than strikeouts. Assuming Martinez is not immediately ready, Gant is in zero danger of losing his spot in the rotation right now. Dakota Hudson has pitched 3.2 IP, struck out 3 and walked none. Alex Reyes is reportedly ahead of schedule, but I certainly don’t think that means he’ll be in the rotation on Day One.
Andrew Miller was roughed up, allowing three earned runs and not being able to finish the inning. He’s in no danger though, so one spot automatically goes to him. Just stay healthy Andrew. Brett Cecil remains frustrating. He neither had a good nor bad outing with a hit allowed in one scoreless inning that was both K-less and BB-less. Then he got shut down to work on his mechanics to fit his new body type. Alright.
Chasen Shreve has been straight up bad. He’s thrown 2.1 IP, walked two and struck out none while allowing a run. Tyler Webb has been... dominant? Sure why not make this even more complicated than it already was. He has pitched 4 IP, struck out 5, walked one and allowed one hit with no runs allowed. Tommy Layne has struck out 6 and walked 2 in 3 IP, but has also allowed two runs. Somebody named Hunter Cervenka has struck out 3, walked one in 2 hitless and scoreless innings. Not that he was going to make the team, but Genesis Cabrera has allowed 6 hits, walked 3, allowed 4 earned runs, and struck out nobody in 1.2 IP. This is probably between Shreve and Cecil, both of whom might not even be in the organization if they don’t make the team. Webb is doing his best to make it interesting.
Jordan Hicks has faced four batters, struck out 3 and walked one in his only inning of work. Dominic Leone has pitched two scoreless innings with three hits allowed and 1:1 K/BB. And that’s pretty much it as far as the guaranteed goes. John Brebbia should, but he’s one of the few relievers with options. He’s pitched 2.2 IP, struck out 4, walked one and allowed two runs. Don’t give them any excuse to send you down John.
Mike Mayers, also with no options, is putting himself in an interesting position. He has pitched horrible. In three games pitched, here is his line: 2.2 IP, 2 H, 2 BBs, K, HR, 2 ER. Mike, buddy, you’re going to need to turn it around fast, because you were not good enough last year to lay an egg like this. Much like Cecil, Gregerson remains frustrating without any real results to see if he still has anything. Giovanny Gallegos has had a weird spring. He has appeared in 3 games, pitched 3.2 IP and posted about the weirdest line I could come up with: 9 Ks, BB, 3 H, 3 HR, 4 ER - You are in fact reading that right, three hits, three home runs.
Seth Elledge, Sam Tuivailaila return, has gotten some looks but has more walks than strikeouts and more runs allowed than innings. Poor Andrew Morales got a strikeout for his only out but also allowed three runs. Ryan Helsley has been a mixed bag, striking out 4 in 4.2, but also walking four and allowing three runs. Jake Woodford has 3:3 K/BB with two runs allowed in 4 IP, so you know pretty similar to how he pitches in the minors.
I’m probably taking it for granted that Tyler O’Neill, with a .176 average but .364 OBP and .706 slugging this spring, will make the team. Thus, there’s really only one spot on the roster “up for grabs.” And that’s here, essentially. Yairo Munoz has the inside track, and he’s batting .385 with a double and walk in 16 PAs. Drew Robinson, who has the advantage of being left-handed, is batting .263 with a .238 OBP - thanks sac bunt and two sac flies - and has two doubles. Darkhorse candidate Ramon Urias is batting .412 with two doubles and a home run. Edmundo Sosa, who has the advantage of being able to play SS, has two doubles and a triple for a .905 OPS in 15 PAs.
Among players not on the 40 man roster, Max Schrock has a very un-Shrock performance with 3 BBs, 4 Ks, a 2B and a HR. For most of his minor league career, he’s batted .300 but not really had much power or walked and certainly didn’t strike out. Tommy Edman has batted .385 with three walks in 17 PAs. And I have only seen a few games, but I’ve really liked watching Edman’s plate approach.
I’ll give Franscisco Pena this: he has certainly BABIPed. He has 11 PAs with 5 hits, one of which was a double. He also has two strikeouts and no walks. Matt Weiters is 1-4 with a walk and a double. Andrew Knizner has been respectable: .250/.308/.417.
Others of Note
Ravelo is batting .333/.375/.524. Dylan Carlson has struggled with six strikeouts in 21 PAs, en route to a .549 OPS. Jose Adolis Garcia has two stolen bases and three walks, but a .067 average. The JAG in the MLB last year would never have walked three times in 19 PAs so hopefully that’s a real change in approach. Randy Arozarena has batted .400 with two walks and a triple. Scott Hurst is 2-4 with a homer and a walk and no strikeouts. Lane Thomas is 3-5 with a strikeout. Pretty interesting minor league outfield, this group.
The Cardinals, as a team, struck out 22.3% of the time and walked 8.5% of the time last season. In Spring Training, they have struck out 19.8% of the time and walked 11.2% of the time. Normally, I wouldn’t note this, but Jeff Albert is now the hitting coach and apparently has the ability to lower strikeouts. The pitching has a 20.3 K% and a 11.2% BB rate, so let’s all agree to ignore this.
That’s all I got for you. I didn’t share the starting pitching staffs, just that they showed up and pitched and I similarly will not share the surefire MLB players cause who cares. The only interesting stats in Spring Training to me are the minor league guys and the fringe guys. The bullpen is a little more uncertain than usual, so that also hold my interest.