Tag Archive | "Bronson Arroyo"

Matt Adams turns potential into reality for St. Louis Cardinals

When the St. Louis Cardinals waged their annual war with injuries last season as Allen Craig and Lance Berkman went on the disabled list within weeks of each other in May, the Cardinals needed a replacement, and their first choice was minor leaguer Matt Adams.

MattAdams

Adams looked the part. He’s 6-foot-3-inches tall, weighs 260 pounds and hit 82 homeruns in his four years in the minor leagues while compiling a .318 batting average. But that wasn’t the player who showed up in the Cardinals lineup in 2012. Adams hit .244 with two homeruns and 13 RBIs in his 27-game stay with the big-league club.

So where was this power potential that made him the Cardinals first choice to fill-in while two players with power bats sat on the disabled list? Apparently it had left Adams’ right elbow.

Adams and the Cardinals didn’t know it at the time, but he had been hampered by a bone spur in his elbow and eventually had surgery to repair it last season after the Cardinals sent him back to the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds.

And it turns out that injury made a huge difference because the 2013 version of Adams is much more in line with the stories of his powerful approach to hitting and why the Cardinals considered him a top prospect..

Adams crushed the ball throughout spring training. He hit three homeruns and led the team with 17 RBIs in 28 games. He has carried that success into the regular season so far, and at times carried the team.

He got the Cardinals their first extra-base hit of the three-game series last weekend against the San Francisco Giants when he hit a two-run, ground-rule double into right-centerfield in the fourth inning Sunday against Giants ace Matt Cain. He also carried his hot bat into the Cardinals first home series of the season, a three-game set with the division-rival Cincinnati Reds.

The Cardinals trailed the Reds 1-0 in the sixth inning Tuesday against Reds starter Bronson Arroyo, who to that point in the game had not allowed a hitter to reach base. But Adams, who entered the game as a pinch hitter, waited on one of Arroyo’s trademark slow breaking balls and crushed it into the rightfield seats for a two-run homer.

Then he did the same thing in the sixth inning Wednesday against Reds pitcher Homer Bailey as the Cardinals cruised to a 10-0 win behind a stellar complete-game performance by starter Jake Westbrook.

Adams is in such a groove right now he has the look of a hitter who could hit almost any pitch out of the ballpark. He is getting healthy cuts on pitches he misses, and most of his foul balls have been smashed into the seats down the rightfield line.

That’s the type of hitter the Cardinals management saw in the minor leagues, and it’s the type of hitter who will likely play a very important role for the team throughout the season.

Craig is still the starting first baseman, and he is in no danger of losing that job. But Craig will also have to play rightfield on a fairly regular basis to give 35-year-old Carlos Beltran enough days off to make it through the season, and that could give Adams enough opportunities to be a large part of the Cardinals offense this season.

Even if he is primarily used in a bench role, it’s always nice to have a player who’s hitting over .600 ready to take an important at-bat late in a ballgame.

Sure, Adams won’t continue to hit .600 or better throughout the season, but the Cardinals now have a power hitter who can change the tone of a game immediately.

The Cardinals thought Adams could provide that aspect of the game when he came up in 2012. Now they know he can in 2013.

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Cardinals vs. Reds: Three Things to Walk With

The Cardinals opened their home season with the usual rolling out of the red carpet with Clydesdales, Hall of Famers and currently conquering heroes, as well as a touching look back at the impact of Stan Musial. However, it also featured a tough match up against their chief division rivals in the Cincinnati Reds.

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After a late inning implosion cost them game one by an ugly 14-3 tilt, they came out flat in for the first half of game two as well. However, after breaking up just over 5 perfect innings Bronson Arroyo framed on Tuesday, the club owned the Reds to the tone of a 15-1 split over the final 13.2 innings of the series, and took two of three to win the series. They head into this weekend winners of their previous two series against two playoff teams from a year ago, and tied for first place in the National League Central. But before setting sites on the upcoming series with the Milwaukee Brewers in town, here’s three points to walk away from the just finished 3-game set with the Reds.

 

1. Adams forces his point: Matt Adams solidified the fact that he has an everyday caliber bat during the series. He had a ridiculous 2013 performance escalated with a pinch-hit home run that blew open Tuesday’s game and a 416-foot shot on Wednesday afternoon. For the season, in 14 at-bats he has nine hits (a .643 average) with two home runs, two doubles, four runs scored and seven runs batted in.

The big question coming into 2012 was how to get at-bats for Allen Craig with the presence of Lance Berkman and Carlos Beltran looming on the club. Fast forward a year, and Adams has created the same dilemma this season, with Craig playing the role of Berkman. While the future is what it is, the now finds the Cardinals with a plus bat that will keep the heat on to find more chances for his undeniable skill set to play.

2. Mitchell Boggs will be okay: On the heels of his blown save in Arizona and follow up implosion during the ninth inning of Monday’s opener, the already hot question about if he is suited for the ninth inning continued. When compounded with the confirmation of the torn elbow ligament for Jason Motte, and the debate on Boggs role on the club hit a fever pitch. Taking full advantage of Mike Matheny’s decision to put him back on the bump just a day after his disastrous outing, Boggs put plenty of confidence in his ability to deliver once again. In setting down the Reds in order to close out Wednesday’s win, and in impressive fashion (12 pitches, eight strikes, one strikeout), he put arm’s length between himself and the growing sentiment for Trevor Rosenthal and his 100-mph excitement (to over exaggeration creating) fastball, to take over the role he hasn’t even had much of a chance to prove himself unworthy for yet.

3. Warrior Westbrook: The best arm in the young season has been Jake Westbrook. With his complete game shutout on Wednesday, he ran his 2013 total to 15.2 innings, and he is yet to surrender an earned run. Yet what’s more than the result however is the method that he’s gone about it. While he has struggled with walks some (11 in total, one more than total hits he’s surrendered), he’s taken on a solid innings load when it has been needed. In the two games prior to his starts, the bullpen has pitched a total of 14.1 innings, using a total of seven different relievers.

The strength of what Westbrook brings to the middle of the rotation is a workhorse that can lower the sometimes heavy load the bullpen carries behind Lance Lynn and Jaime Garcia’s starts, and potentially a day before Shelby Miller’s as well, who will have his innings monitored closely. If Westbrook can keep up his effective innings-eating efforts, the ripple effect through the rest of the pitching staff is full of positive scenarios.

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I-70 Special Report: MLB Postseason 2010

This graphic was designed by Lorena O’Neal, you can check out more of
her work here.

Source:http://www.sportsmanagementcolleges.net

Sports Management Colleges- MLB Postseason

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Series Preview – Cardinals host Cincinnati

If the Cardinals harbor any hope of catching the Reds, sweeping this weekend series in St Louis is absolutely essential.

Current Snapshot

St Louis – 69-62, 2nd place NL Central, 8 games behind Cincinnati. The Cardinals return home on a 5 game losing streak, after being swept by the Houston Astros at the conclusion of a horrendous 2-8 road trip. They dropped 5.5 games in the standings on the trip. The Cardinals have led in a game for a total of 3.2 innings since last Saturday. At this point, they may have a better chance of catching Philadelphia for the NL Wild Card, although they sit 5 games back in that race.

Cincinnati – 78-55, 1st place NL Central. Cincinnati is tied for the best record in the National League (Atlanta). They’ve won 4 in a row, 6 of their last 7, and added 103 MPH flamethrower Aroldis Chapman to their bullpen on Tuesday. Truly these are the salad days along the banks of the Ohio River.

St Louis rearranged their rotation so their best three pitchers would throw in this series. On paper the matchups heavily favor St. Louis.

Friday night Jaime Garcia will face Bronson Arroyo. This may be the most even matchup of the series. Garcia has won all three of his 2010 starts against Cincinnati. He beat Arroyo at Busch III on 31 May, and had two hits off Bronson to boot. Arroyo has a lot of history with the Cardinals, having faced them at least 3 times a season since 2006. He last beat St. Louis 16 May, and has not won in St Louis in over two years.

Saturday’s mid-afternoon start will pit Travis Wood against Adam Wainwright. Travis Wood is one of the surprising rookie pitchers on this staff (the others including Mike Leake and Chapman). Wood has pitched very well this season, despite (or perhaps because) only starting two games in Cincinnati. He has never faced St. Louis. He pitched OK in his last start, a 5-inning no decision against Chicago (10 hits, 3 ER, 3 walks). Wood throws a fastball averaging 90 MPH to set up a variety of off-speed stuff. That fastball, and his slider and change, appear to be above average pitches. Wainwright has now lost three straight decisions after winning three straight. His last win was at Cincinnati’s expense. Maybe he can reverse the trend against them too.

Sunday afternoon will showcase Chris Carpenter and Homer Bailey. Carpenter has put together his typical stellar season (14-5, 2.92 ERA). He has not given up more than three earned runs in a game since before the All-Star break. Carp is also 3-0 against the Reds this season, and has beaten them twice in St. Louis. Cincinnati has not lost with Bailey on the mound since he returned to the rotation in August. Opponents have a .320 BABIP off him but only a .626 OPS in that stretch. Bailey has not beaten the Cardinals in St. Louis. He lost at Busch on 1 May.

It’s pretty clear why the two teams have headed in opposite directions over the last week. Over that stretch:

  • St Louis: .193/.244/.313 as a team (games in DC and Houston)
  • Cincinnati: .303/.382/.545 as a team (games at home and in Milwaukee)

Jay Bruce has been the hottest Red of them all (1.533 SLG in 15 PA). Matt Holliday has been the Cardinal doing the most damage with the bat (.640 SLG in 25 PA). In the MVP race, Joey Votto is hitting .300 and slugging .600 over this stretch, and Albert Pujols is still slugging .520 even though he’s only hitting .200 and in an 0-13 funk right now.

Cardinal struggles were summed up pretty well by Derrick Goold on Thursday.

“Holliday’s homer [Wednesday] was the Cardinals’ first rally with at least two runs in 31 innings. They were held to two or fewer runs in five games on the trip and in eight of their 17 games since last being in first place. … In the past six games, the Cardinals have scored 13 runs. Four of them have not been an RBI or a run provided by Albert Pujols and Holliday.”

Prognosis

Thirty-one games left, seventeen at home. No more off-days this season. The task before the Cardinals now is challenging to say the least. As pointed out in the lede, for any hope of bouncing back to win this division they must sweep this series. Realistically to stay relevant even in the Wild Card race they will need to win 2 of 3. San Francisco is in LA this weekend, while the Phillies host Milwaukee. Can the Cardinals do it? Can they come off the mat? We’ll find out.

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