The St. Louis Cardinals have had a rough go of it as of late, but it is still early and there is still plenty of time for their luck to turn. The lineup is good — that is one thing we can confirm from the first three series so far. Though the team is on 3-6 and has only scored 36 runs in those games, they are first in the National League in hits with 92, second in strikeouts with only 66, first in batting average with .294, first in on base percentage at .365 and seventh in slugging at .428. The offense is hitting well, it just isn’t translating into runs. Eventually it has to, though, right?
Hopefully the unwitting victims of this impending offensive onslaught are the Colorado Rockies, the next team on the schedule for the Cardinals. The pitchers scheduled to start for the Rockies are Germán Márquez, Kyle Freeland — their best pitcher so far — and José Ureña. The season is still young and because of Coors Field, it is tough to gain any truly reliable insight on the Rockies pitchers from the numbers alone, but so far with the exception of Freeland, this might be the series for the Cardinals to really come out swinging.
Márquez has pitched just over 11 innings so far this season and in that time has given up 10 hits, 6 runs, and 2 walks for a 4.76 ERA and 5.78 FIP, with most of that coming during his last outing against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. Márquez throws four pitches: a 4-seam fastball, a slider, and sinker, and curveball. He throws them fairly evenly, with the 4-seamer being the mostly used pitch. He throws it at about 95 mph and throws his sinker nearly the same speed. Among his pitches, his curveball is typically his most valuable per Baseball Savant’s run value.
José Ureña is coming off a pair of rough starts, going just 5 innings total between the two with 8 runs allowed, 12 hits — 3 of them homers, 7 walks, and only 1 strikeout for a 14.40 ERA and 15.00 FIP. He throws a sinker, slider, changeup, and 4-seamer in that order. As recently as 2019 his sinker was a pretty valuable pitch for him, but in the past few years it has gotten hammered. In 2023 it has a .462 batting average against it with .846 slugging. I have a guess as to why (2023 and 2022):
For the full effect, here is where he located his sinker in 2019:
That’s a much better location for that pitch, isn’t it? As a result, it looks like Ureña is actually throwing the pitch less and his other pitches more so far this season. If he cannot find a way to locate his sinker, this Cardinals lineup should be able to put up some runs against him, especially in Colorado.
On offense Colorado hasn’t had a lot of success so far. As a team their wRC+ is just 77 with a team slash line of .259/.312/.414. Only three of the regulars in their lineup have a wRC+ over 100: Charlie Blackmon (116), Elias Diaz (121), and C.J. Cron (120). After playing only 42 games in 2022 Kris Bryant is back in action for the Rockies. He has 93 wRC+ and a slash line of .300/.378/.375. He has not hit for a lot of power so far in this early season — has has 12 hits so far with 9 singles and 3 doubles and just a .075 ISO.
A series against the Rockies might just be what the Cardinals needed. They face a tough customer in Kyle Freeland on Tuesday (whom Devin has analyzed already) but Monday and Wednesday are games the lineup should be able to string some runs together. The pitching has struggled a little, but so has the Rockies lineup. Hopefully the Cardinals can scrape together a few wins and we can all relax just a little!
Monday, April 10 at 7:40 pm CT: Steven Matz vs. Germán Márquez
Tuesday, April 11 at 7:40 pm CT: Miles Mikolas vs. Kyle Freeland
Wednesday, April 12 at 2:10 pm CT: Jack Flaherty vs. José Ureña