Pitcher Checkup

Pitching wins championships. It is time to look in on the Cards’ pitching staff to check out the what’s what and the who’s who.

Lohse

Rotation Lift

The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Colorado Rockies 6-1 Friday night, keeping pace with the Milwaukee Brewers—who also won their game—in the NL Central race. The Cards got timely hitting and great defense to help earn the victory, but the real story was the pitching.

Kyle Lohse took the mound and turned in his best start in over a month. Lohse tossed 6.1 innings, giving up one run on just four hits while striking out three. It wasn’t a masterful performance—he did walk three batters in the game—but it had to be everything the Cards hoped for from the veteran hurler. So much for the question of whether or not he’s injured.

Lohse has been one of the enigmas on the Cards’ pitching staff this season. Some games, he looks OK: throwing strikes, inducing ground balls, etc. Other games he looks lost: behind in every count, giving up a lot of runs, etc. Lohse had not pitched into the seventh inning since July 8 (four starts).

The Cardinals need to see more starts like this from Lohse if they expect to catch the Brewers in the standings. Thursday night they got an ace-like stopper performance from Chris Carpenter to stave off a sweep by the Brew Crew. Jake Westbrook has pitched better of late. Edwin Jackson‘s latest outing was solid. Jaime Garcia has had a couple of hiccups lately but his good starts far outweigh his bad ones. Lohse cannot say the same, at least not since the end of May.

Whether this start leads to a more consistent and reliable Kyle Lohse is anyone’s guess. But he gave the Cards a chance to win—which they did—and he didn’t necessitate a ton of innings be thrown by the bullpen—which is huge.

Cards Add Rhodes

The Cardinals signed veteran lefty reliever Arthur Rhodes this week. Rhodes reported to the Cards Friday, but was not available for the game because he threw a side session after being in release limbo for a week. The Redbirds have shown interest in Arthur Rhodes a number of times over the years, and a couple of days ago their wish finally came true.

Rhodes is little more than a lefty specialist, but his presence solidifies a Cardinal bullpen that has seen wholesale changes since the beginning of the season and has sustained a number of significant injuries.

Now the ‘pen features two left-handers and a plethora of hard-throwing righties. It is definitely a strength this season, and will remain that way as long as the rotation holds up their end of the bargain and pitches deep into games.

All in all, it appears the Cardinals are seeing dividends from their pitching staff. They have lost promising young talent to injury, but they have replaced it with solid veterans who know how to pitch. It remains to be seen just how far these hurlers will take the team. The rotation and bullpen appear to be complete for the rest of the year. And as long as they keep game close, the team will have a good shot at making a move up the NL Central Standings.

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