Tag Archive | "Lance Lynn"

Measuring The Cardinals Starting Pitching Potential

The Cardinal starting rotation has been its hallmark unit over the past few years, as it has annually produced among the top starting staffs in all of baseball. It has progressed from a finesse based unit of veterans and corner painters under the watch of former pitching coach Dave Duncan, to a blend of that same ilk of hurler, mixed in with emergent young power arms capable of running up the strikeouts under current pitching coach Derek Lilliquist.

jaime-garcia-adam-wainwright-mlb-st.-louis-cardinals-workout-850x560

In the 2014, Lilliquist’s starters finished in the top five of the National League in wins (64—4th), ERA (3.44—5th), complete games (8—1st), shutouts (23—1st) and average against (.243—2nd). And these measures were met by a staff that experienced more than its share of obstacles that likely kept it from reaching its full potential. Injuries to Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha took away two of the team’s most capable weapons during periods of time, while the stop and go nature of Jaime Garcia impacted the rotation as well. Youngsters Shelby Miller, Marco Gonzales, Joe Kelly and Carlos Martinez, while showing promise, all went through growing pains at one time or another. Only Lance Lynn and John Lackey, who joined the club at the trade deadline, offered what can be considered a regularly dependable slate of options in the 2014 season.

Yet despite that all, it still remained a fantastic unit that produced a top three finisher in the season’s Cy Young race in Wainwright, as well as a 15-game winner in Lynn. And entering 2015, there are many of the same signs of optimism for the Cardinal rotation – which has been one of the most effective spring staffs in the game – but there are also some of the same caution signs that are strung up around it as well.

So what is a realistic expectation for the Cardinals’ signature unit? And what should be expected from its inhabitants for the upcoming year? Let’s take a look around the Cardinal starting pitching staff.

(Stats from 2014 season)

 

Adam Wainwright: The club’s entrenched rotation leader enters the year both on the heels of both a career-best campaign, highlighted by a second 20-win season and a call as starter of the All-Star Game, but also a struggle through to the finish line as well as he battled his health into the offseason. In October, he had elbow surgery to clean up some damage from a June aggravation and then experienced a delay in the start of his spring as well due to brief bout against a sports hernia.

Yet all things considered, he has picked up right where he would be expected to be at by this time of the year. Waino is a warrior that takes the job of leading the rotation – and team in many regards – seriously, and he showed up and had a cunning outing last night that spoke to There should be expectation that he is once again one of the better starters in the game again, as he has begun to show the ability to be just as lethal as a “thinking man’s” pitcher, as he is one with pure “stuff”.

2014 Numbers: 20-9, 2.38 ERA, 227 innings, 179 strikeouts, 5 complete games, 1.03 WHIP

2015 Prediction: 18-8, 2.90 ERA, 215 innings, 182 strikeouts, 3 complete games, 1.07 WHIP

 

Lance Lynn: He was perhaps the most important pitcher on the team last year, finally shaking off his habit of struggling through the second half and carrying the team while the rest of the rotation was in flux. At the end of it all, Lynn had established himself in the position that he carries into 2015: the team’s second biggest gun and the strong #2 guy that every elite rotation needs to have aboard it.

Lance shook of an early camp hip flexor injury already this spring and returned to his pre-existing strong form already. He has been the third winningest pitcher in the National League behind Wainwright and Clayton Kershaw over the past three years and was awarded with a three year contract extension as validation of his importance to the team both now and going forward. With there still being some question marks on the health of his other rotation mates, it would not be surprising to see the sturdy right-hander be rode even tougher this summer.

2014: 15-10, 2.76 ERA, 203 innings, 181 strikeouts, 2 complete games, 1.26 WHIP

2015 Prediction: 17-10, 3.20 ERA, 210 innings, 195 strikeouts, 2 complete games, 1.25 WHIP

 

John Lackey: He was brought aboard to provide depth and stability to the Cardinal rotation at a time when both were needed severely last August. And now entering his first full season with the club, it is his presence that is his most vital function to the team, as he provides stability at the core of a staff that needs it between its All-Star caliber front end and youthful second half. Having Lackey on hand to be a plus option in comparison to the mid-rotation options that many other clubs boast is a understated strength for the team if he can stay healthy.

2014: 14-10, 3.82 ERA, 198 innings, 164 strikeouts, 1 complete game, 1.27 WHIP

2015 Prediction: 12-10, 3.70 ERA, 190 innings, 162 strikeouts, 1 complete games, 1.31 WHIP

PI-MLB-Cardinals-spring-training-003-021915.vadapt.620.high.0

Michael Wacha: It was a tail of two years in one for Wacha a year ago, as he both at times showed the ability that made him one of the top sensations in the game in late 2014 but also struggles with a mysterious shoulder injury as well. If Wacha is truly able to get past the injury woes that slowed down his first full season and is able to get back to where he was early last season, then he is the key to potentially making this rotation go from just deep but to truly being excellent.

He was the best Cardinal hurler in the spring this year, showing that same dominant arsenal that made him the most dangerous pitcher on the team during its World Series run in 2013. But there should be an expectation for his exposure to tempered, if not on a strict innings limit, this season in order to both ease him into the rigors of an uninterrupted season and to be preventative against forcing the issue of any potential return of the shoulder injury shelved him for most of the second half.

 

2014: 5-6, 3.20 ERA, 107 innings, 94 strikeouts, 0 complete games, 1.19 WHIP

2015 Prediction: 14-7, 3.10 ERA, 182 innings, 175 strikeouts, 1 complete game, 1.15 WHIP

Carlos Martinez: He emerged victorious in the spring’s race for the fifth rotation spot, after an injury to Jaime Garcia arose and the club decided to let Marco Gonzales incubate a bit longer in Memphis. It is the greatest opportunity that the young righty has had thus far to prove that he permanently belongs in the starting rotation, and it will be one where every start counts. Yet he definitely earned his keep during the spring, averaging nearly a strikeout per inning and showing much improved command and control. His potential is clear as is the fact that he possesses perhaps the top raw arm in the organization. If he can take the inevitable bumps that he will face in stride, stay healthy and work consistently, it will be very difficult to pull away the spot that he has earned entering Opening Day.

2014: 2-4, 4.03 ERA, 89.1 innings, 84 strikeouts, 0 complete games, 1.41 WHIP

2015 Predicition: 9-7, 3.50 ERA, 140 innings, 130 strikeouts, 0 complete games, 1.35 WHIP

 

The Other Guys: It is impossible to predict what comes from Garcia, as his availability is so subject to change. It was just a month ago that he appeared ready to crash into the Opening Day rotation and then in just a matter of a week he had faded into the backdrop of camp casualty again. Thoracic Outlet Syndrome is confounding difficult to predict medical condition and it has proven, as it did with Chris Carpenter just a few years ago, makes the recovery window from it a crap shoot to predict. It is likely that he still makes his way to St. Louis at some point during the season, but the when and how long are to hazy to confidently predict.

After a very encouraging and sometimes dominant spring, Gonzales will open the season in Memphis with a chance to continue building momentum for an inevitable return to the big leagues. Whether it be as a reliever for the time being or in the starter role he is destined to inhabit eventually, the 22-year-old lefty will make an impact for the Cardinals this year as a plus weapon in reserve.

Others such as Tim Cooney, Tyler Lyons and Zach Petrick could be called on if there are multiple damages done the rotation at once that are beyond being able to be plugged by the top candidates for the rotation, while Nick Greenwood and John Gast could also be involved as well.

Posted in Cardinals, Featured, MLBComments (0)

Cardinals Care Winter Warm Up Progressive Blog – Day 3

I-70 is back for the final day of the 2015 Cardinals Care Winter Warm Up, at the Hyatt Regency in downtown St. Louis. If you have missed the first two entries, the PB will be posting commentary from the player media sessions at the WWU, along with analysis and regular updates throughout the duration of the event.

Bitter cold weather and snow hit St. Louis area

If you missed either of the first two entries from the weekend, head back to Day 1 and Day 2 for comments from Jason Heyward, Matt Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Matt Holliday and more.

Coming out of the gates, lets acknowledge a few things that have happened here in Day 3, a few the fault of your writer and another just a consequence of the day.

#1) Kolten Wong and Carlos Martinez made it to the podium before we made it on site, so they will not be reflected.

#2) We attended Mike Matheny‘s session and got notes from it, but the direct quotes did not record, so his session will not be a verbatim one, as others will.

#3) Sadly, Yadier Molina did not come to the media podium during his time at the WWU, so he will not be included here.

But with that, there were several prominent Cardinals did make their way to both the podium and to our audio recorder, so by extension, to you as well.

 

First up, shortstop Jhonny Peralta:

On the loss of Oscar Taveras, whom he mentored when he came up to the Major Leagues last year, he described when he received the news of his death and what he meant to him: “I was here in St. Louis when it happened and I could not believe it. Hopefully God is with him in heaven.”

“I was really close with him. When I see a younger guy, I try to reach out and help them with everything. And with him being from the Dominican like me, and I tried to help him with everything that he needed.”

Peralta described his first year with the Cardinals and in the National League as a success, but also a constant learning process. And one that he anticipates to have benefits in 2015:

“Last year was a good year for me. To be in the National League for the first time last year, it was unbelievable to see some of the things that happened for me. I will be more comfortable, so we will see what happens this year. It is more comfortable when you play guys that you know already, as well as the field.”

Continuing on, he stressed that studying and comparing notes with his more experienced teammates made the transition easier: “I watched a lot of video last year, but more than anything I tried asking the guys on the team. Molina helped a lot and Matt Holliday, so they helped out a lot.”

Regarding the addition of his former teammate Max Scherzer to the Washington Nationals, as well as what it means to the National League: “He’s good for the Nationals for sure. He is an unbelievable pitcher. We have a lot of competition this year within our division too, so I think it will be good.”

About where he feels he fits in the lineup best, it is the run producing spots in the middle that best fit his offering: “I feel comfortable anywhere I hit in the lineup, but I feel when I hit cleanup I get to be a big power guy,” Peralta said with a laugh. “But hitting fourth or fifth feels really good for me.”

On what to work on, he hopes to drive in more runs as well as see an upswing in his overall batting average. In regards to his low average with runners in scoring position, he returned back to the issue of learning new pitchers: “Sometimes it was an issue of not knowing the pitchers that much. The more and more I played them last year, the better I felt there.”

Rosenthal

Closer Trevor Rosenthal made his way to the mic next…

Regarding his offseason, he said he removed himself from baseball mostly to spend time with family, but remained in the St. Louis area. He also worked with former Cardinal closer Jason Isringhausen, who he keeps in contact with regularly and will be inheriting his former number 44 this year.

On evaluation as a closer, he says health and availability is his how he measures his success throughout the year: “I couldn’t tell you how many games I blew or lost last year. I don’t know if that’s my personality or what, but I remember a lot of great games last year, but I also remember the times that I lost a game for pitcher too. And that is not so much hard on me, but I feel bad for the guy I let down.”

“The goal is to always take care of myself everyday so I can give it my best effort when I’m out there. So as long as I can do the little things to make sure I’m available to pitching, I’m okay.”

“Saves are obviously a part of the game, but I really think of them as an accolade and a team effort. I’m just the last guy out.”

Regarding his mental preparation entering his second year as a closer: “I learned that every year is different, as well as to make adjustments and learn from the past. Just continuing to learn is going to be a big part of this spring training this year, and not coming in with a big head and thinking I have nothing to learn too.”

“A big focus for 2015 is attacking hitters early, trying to be more efficient, not be too fine and trying to get my pitch count down. But at times not trying to give up the big hit too early or not being completely confident or convicted. Getting ahead in the count early is important, but at the same time not saying that like it is an easy thing to do.”

Regarding the changes to the structure of the bullpen, specially the addition of setup man Jordan Walden: “I think him and (Matt) Belisle are going to be great. Being with Motte, Neshek and Mujica that these guys have tons of information and things they have learned from different teammates. I think that is the coolest part of any job; being around your peers and learning from their success and failures.”

 

A newly minted Lance Lynn now enters:

Regarding his new contract, he explained that it was a good middle ground between team and personal interests: “It is exciting. You know that it is going to take care of itself with the arbitration process, but it is nice to get the whole three years situated. Both of us feel like we got what we wanted.”

He characterized the process of landing the deal as beginning around the Winter Meetings, then taking some time to hammer out the language and terms of it.

In regards to maintaining his free agent years after it, he said it was an important part of the structure of the deal. “It was one of the things that if I gave up free agent years, we wanted to be sure it was worth the while. We wanted for it to be more than just one or two years, but it was not something that we could get situated, but if everything goes well and I pitch well, I’m sure it will be revisited down the line.”

 

 

Posted in Cardinals, Featured, I-70 Baseball Exclusives, Minors, MLBComments (7)

Proactive Cardinals Lock Up Invaluable Asset In Lynn

The Cardinals proved themselves to be proactive once again in keeping their own in tow by forgoing the arbitration process with pitcher Lance Lynn. As opposed to letting a negotiator set the tone for their future with the 27-year-old right-hander, the club bought out his full stretch of arbitration eligible seasons to the tone of a three year deal that could reach a maximum amount of $23.5 million. And in doing so the club not only protected itself from issuing a potentially record-setting deal, it also shored up its most consistent—and suddenly invaluable—components.

MLB: Kansas City Royals at St. Louis Cardinals
Lynn had long been plagued by the perception of being an inconsistent contributor, an image that was simultaneously both right and wrong. Over the course of his first three seasons, few pitchers had been as victorious as often as Lynn has been. An All-Star in 2012 when he went on to win a career-best 18 games, Lynn is one three pitchers to notch 15 or more victories over the past three seasons and third winningest pitcher in the National League, behind only Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright. He has been very durable as well; making at least 33 starts each of the past three years and topping 200 innings in each of the previous two campaigns.

Yet despite these high marks, he has been plagued by awful bouts of inconsistency in the past as well, in addition to an image of his success being more a device of run support instead of stellar work done on his own. During his 18-win 2012 season, he struggled so badly down the stretch that he was pulled from the rotation late in the season. In 25 August innings, he posted a 6.66 in seven games and from August 26th through September 9th, he worked from the bullpen until regaining his form to close out the year with four solid starts and an encouraging postseason showing.

2013 saw more of the same however, as he opened up the year with a 7-1 record from April through May into a three month run of an ERA over 5.00 and 6-8 record from June through August. Despite once again rebounding with a strong September and October, Lynn had established a track record of extreme inconsistency as the season wore on.

However, he broke the mold that was quickly being set for him last summer. After entering the season amid questions about where he would factor into the Cardinal starting rotation—if at all—he set out and had his finest season of his career. He never posted an ERA over 4.00 in any month and instead of wilting as the summer grew hotter, he matched its heat in his performance. He carried the Cardinal rotation through nearly unanimous bouts with injuries through the second half, posting a 2.22 ERA after the All-Star Break and limiting opponents to .228 average against.

In short, he conquered his greatest demon and made another step up the mountain towards becoming an unquestioned frontline starter. And whether it is ready to be accepted or not, that is exactly what Lynn has become as he enters his fourth year in the Cardinal rotation—and not a moment too soon.

The Cardinal rotation enters 2015 with its ace in Wainwright returning from offseason elbow surgery and Michael Wacha’s status to be determined as he works his way back into starting shape after a shoulder injury that shortened his season as well. Lynn’s accession to carrying the weight of the rotation will carry over to his responsibility shifting from quality innings eater, to bonafide source of wins, not just beneficiary of his team’s production.

There are wins for both parties involved. Lynn has quietly become one of the game’s steadiest contributors. And in a time where the cost of obtaining quality pitching can have a franchise changing financial ramifications, getting one of the game’s most dependable options for an annual value of just north of $7 million per season instantly becomes one of the shrewdest deals that John Mozeliak has maneuvered to date.

While Mozeliak acknowledged that a  longer pact that stretched past just his currently team controlled years was discussed, but ultimately not able to be worked out at the time, both parties come away from the negotiations in a better place than they enter them from.  Lynn gets a handsome increase from the $535, 000 he earned in 2014 and also see the reward that befits his accomplishments in affirming his value to team a year ago.

Yet another victory for a guy that has made such an outcome his specialty.

Posted in Cardinals, Featured, MLBComments (0)

What Does The Future Hold – Cardinals Contracts and Scenarios

As the St. Louis Cardinals face the final weekend of the National League Championship Series, and the baseball year as a whole rolls into its final go around shortly, the show still goes on, regardless of outcome. Sooner or later, the tone of the year quickly turns to the personnel part and the future becomes the present. Free agency, retirements, trades and rumors will rule the roost for the next three months, and the Cardinals will be far from on the outside looking in.

940-carpenter-chris

While the team has the rare pleasure of having the vast majority its entire core and active roster under team control for not only 2013, but 2014 as well, the business is safe to continue as is for the near future. But exactly how is the design of the team set up entering the winter? Here is the entire breakdown of the Cardinal roster, including what’s to come, what will cost what and how contract status works into the personnel decisions that could loom.

(Contract figures per Cots Contracts & Baseball Reference)

Guaranteed Contracts—$71.5M guaranteed in 2014

Adam Wainwright (32, $97.5M through 2018)

Matt Holliday (34, $51M through 2017 w/ $17M team option in 2018)

Yadier Molina (31, $44M through 2017, w/ $15M team option in 2018)

Allen Craig (30, $28.5M through 2017, w/ $13M team option in 2018)

Jaime Garcia (27, $17M through 2015, w/ $23.5M total in separate team options in ’16-’17)

Jason Motte (32, $7.5M through 2014)

Randy Choate (38, $6M through 2015)

The vast majority of the Cardinal veteran core is not only signed, but is contracted through the next four seasons at minimum. Wainwright, Holliday and Molina are likely on career carrying deals, while the team locked up young, quickly proven players such as Craig and Garcia early in their careers, and have control through their best years underway. Motte is the lone pending free agent on the 2014 team, and will have a show-and-prove year as he returns to the ninth inning from Tommy John surgery early in the season.

Arbitration Eligibles

John Axford (31, Stage 2, $5M in 2013; Non-Tender Candidate)

David Freese (31, Stage 2, $3.15M in 2013)

Jon Jay (29, Stage 1, $524,000 in 2013)

Daniel Descalso (26, Stage 1, $511,000 in 2013)

Fernando Salas (29, Stage 1, $512,000 in 2013; Non-Tender Candidate)

While Craig and Motte are locked up, the remainder of the formerly young Cardinal cast is in the midst of their arbitration years. At maximum, Freese, Jay and Descalso are under team control through 2015, but there will be a few tough calls in this tier of the team, and none harder to predict than Freese, who is due for a raise into the $5M range, but had his worst year of his career. Axford’s case will be the most interesting case, as he is a high-ceiling talent, but will carry a difficult price tag for what is likely a seventh inning bridge pitcher to carry.

Pre-Arbitration

Lance Lynn (27, Stage 3)

Matt Carpenter (28, Stage 3; Buy-out Candidate)

Tony Cruz (27, Stage 3)

Shane Robinson (29, Stage 3)

Shelby Miller (23, Stage 2)

Michael Wacha (23, Stage 2)

Carlos Martinez (22, Stage 2)

Pete Kozma (26, Stage 2)

Trevor Rosenthal (24, Stage 2)

Kevin Siegrist (24, Stage 2)

Seth Maness (25, Stage 2)

Matt Adams (25, Stage 2)

Joe Kelly (26, Stage 2)

Keith Butler (25, Stage 2)

Sam Freeman (26, Stage 2)

Tyler Lyons (26, Stage 2)

John Gast (25, Stage 2)

Kolten Wong (22, Stage 2)

Adron Chambers (27, Stage 2)

The core of the Cardinal team is its youth, as the group that was heralded as the top organization in all of baseball before the season has seen many of its jewels hit the big leagues. Of the 19 players in this section, no less than 12 are virtual locks to be on the Opening Day roster, and none will come in at cost of more than $525,000. This is where the cost control of youth, performing youth at that, shows it’s most advantageous asset. And with only Lynn, Carpenter, Cruz and Robinson on pace to reach arbitration status over the next two years, unless the team decides to up the ante on an early long-term deal to buy out any of this group’s arbitration seasons, this will be a strong asset on the side of the team’s purchasing power, if needed.

Free Agents

Carlos Beltran ($13M)

Jake Westbrook ($8.75M, $9.5M team option will be declined)

Chris Carpenter ($10.5M, will likely retire)

Rafael Furcal ($7M)

Edward Mujica ($3.2M)

Rob Johnson ($750,000)

There are a few ifs and a few certainties here. The certainties start with Jake Westbrook, who’s 2014 option is all but certain to be declined. Furcal and Carpenter will not return as well, with retirement on the horizon for Carpenter and Furcal missing all of the season with Tommy John surgery, and the team having moved on from him before spring training commenced. Mujica is due for a raise, despite his late season struggles, and will likely price himself out of returning for the capacity he would be needed in.

 

Post-2014 Free Agent Candidates

Motte, Axford, Freese

Post 2015 Free Agent Candidates

Garcia, Choate

Posted in Cardinals, MLBComments (0)

In Pirates, Cardinals Face Path of Proven Resistance

There is no doubt about the task that lies ahead for the Cardinals in starting their playoff push with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The margin of a difference between the two teams was rarely much further apart than three games at any point in the season, and for much of it, it felt as if the Pirates owned the Cardinals head-to-head. The numbers are what the numbers are, and while the playoffs do reset the standings, they do not reset the match up; a series which has turned 10-9 in Pittsburgh’s favor thus far.

Mike-Matheny2

However, the Cardinals have had their usual late season swerve since much of the damage that was done to them by Pittsburgh. They were an NL-best 19-8 in September, which included a three-game sweep over Pittsburgh in St. Louis early in the month. Over the past two seasons, the Cardinals have played at their best the later the season has drawn, with a 42-27 mark in the months of September and October, including the postseason. Experience is their ally, and could be their greatest asset over the next (at max) five games.

Despite this, it would be fair to say that the general sentiment that the Pirates could be the arrow in the Cardinals Achilles is fair. They hold two pitchers that have been dominant against the St. Louis lineup all year. Nobody has had more success versus the Cardinals than Francisco Liriano, who in three starts is undefeated and carries a ridiculous 0.75 ERA and .127 average against. He is in line for the Game 3 start on Sunday in Pittsburgh, where they Pirates have won seven of ten games against the Cardinals this year. Another asset on their side takes to the mound today, in AJ Burnett, who also has three wins to only one loss on the year in the matchup, and carried a no-hitter into the seventh against the team early in the year.

Pitching has been a strength for the Bucs, and it is an upper hand that will have to be overcome by the Cardinals, who are countering with a less certain staff, but some definite strengths as well. Adam Wainwright is setup to be the alpha and omega of the series, throwing game one and in line to toss the decisive game five as well. Yet, outside of their ace, the Cardinals are primed to leave nothing off the table in taking down their most persistent foe.

Having the league-leader in wins for the season taking to the mound is an obvious strength, but there it is what is to follow him that has been the most debated element, but could be a smokescreen to much bigger strategy. The decision to start Lance Lynn in game two was rightfully questioned by both fans and media alike. Lynn is the most mercurial of all the Cardinal arms, and despite pitching much better down the stretch, with the club winning three of his final five starts and him posting a 2.12 ERA two of the victories for himself. Yet, the Pirates have hit him well, to the tone of 30 hits in 27 innings and a 5.60 ERA. However, he still carries two victories against the club this season, which is second to only Joe Kelly’s three victories against Pittsburgh.

Yet, winning in swarms is the Cardinals approach this year offensively, and it appears Matheny is looking to spread this approach the mound as well early in the Division Series. He is going all in with his arms, as he has made the decision to put his now-proven arsenal of young arms on full availability out of the bullpen. Shelby Miller and Michael Wacha will both join the mix of Carlos Martinez, Seth Maness, Kevin Siegrist and Trevor Rosenthal in the bullpen early in the series. With Kelly primed to start game three on Sunday in Pittsburgh, one will move to the rotation later, but both of the prized rookies will be available to go if needed before that crucial, but as of now if necessary, date.

This decision proves one thing clearly: the Cardinals are going all-in and sparing no part of its depth to do so. While the Pirates are the most formidable opponent the team could face, the Cardinals have reached the summit of entering as the National League’s best team over the past six months by holding nothing back. An approach they are appearing to be willing to go into overdrive to keep their year moving.

Posted in Cardinals, Featured, MLBComments (0)

Sorting Out the Cardinal Pitching Scene

The upcoming week is a crucial time span for the Cardinals as a team, but the starting pitching staff, it is also a chance to earn their keep. With the postseason looming, the team must make a decision about who it will have comprise its starting rotation, a decision that has become a crowded scene in recent weeks. Yet it could hold the balance of the season in the candidates that come from it.

Lance-Lynn-St-Louis-Cardinals

While it is far from certain that the team has a place in the series round of the postseason yet, assessing how it stacks up for one is an important element to the next few weeks of the season. It could shape who gets starts when and how the club will line up arms headed into the last series’ of the year.

The organization has what could prove to be a tough decision in assessing who is in line for the starts, if not for what each candidate brings, but what they haven’t. Outside of just rounding out the rotation, it also impacts the bullpen and how moves into an already deep mix there. After the absolutes in Adam Wainwright and the now undeniable Joe Kelly, the trio of Lance Lynn, Michael Wacha and Shelby Miller each offer not only a different dynamic, but also a unique set of conditions headed into the last few weeks of the season. And the time is already underway to show and prove for each.

In the case of Miller, he would seem to be the biggest shoe in, and he may very well be. However, it is worth noting that he has struggled with his motion as a result of a bad back over his last few starts. Much can be tied to reaching a new career-high in innings pitched each time out, which is something the team could chose to manage over the next few weeks. His previous high was in 2011, when he threw 139 innings between the High-A and Double-A levels.

Yet, as he sits at 149 innings currently, his effort at repeating his mechanics and finishing innings has been noticeably tough for him. Despite a very good seven inning, three hit victory over Atlanta on August 24, in his 14 starts since June 17th, he has managed to complete six innings only four times and has seen his walk-to-strikeout ratio fall by over 1.00 in the second half. Regardless, the 12-game winner will be a part of a postseason rotation, but it would not seem to be a far-fetched idea that the team limits his innings if at all possible.

Then there is Lance Lynn, who has once again struggled through a second half that has ranged from average to completely unimpressive. After his second consecutive first half of double digit victories, he has only managed to post a 2-6 record post the All-Star Break, with an ERA over 5.00.

It was this same type of effort that cost Lynn his spot in the rotation last September, and there have not been many outings that have inspired much confidence in his ongoing role in the rotation recently. Despite the fact that he did turn his year around late last season once he came from the bullpen, the decision to not add an outside arm at the trade deadline had much weight on Lynn being able to add that experienced third arm in the rotation down the stretch. Yet now, reeling off four consecutive losses currently, his start on Wednesday against Milwaukee could very well be his most important of the season for his ongoing direction with the team this season.

Then there is the youngest of the group, as well as the hottest hand, in Michael Wacha. In his second trip joining the ranks of starting pitcher, he has been markedly better. His control has improved, as well as his pitch execution and assortment and due to this, his success has matched his potential. In his two starts in the past week, he has thrown 13 scoreless innings against the Reds and Pirates, yielding only five hits total. Add in the four innings he threw in relief of Wainwright versus Cincinnati on August 28th, where struck out seven while walking one, and he has been the most lights out of any St. Louis arm over the previous two weeks. He presents an unknown quantity to many teams, which is an added bonus.

Yet with that said, the bright lights of October are a different beast, and there is the matter of workload for Wacha as well. He has thrown a total of 131 2013 innings thus far, the most he has thrown in his pro and collegiate career, and eventually fatigue could factor into him as well. He has electric stuff, and the decision to best utilize him could see a return to the bullpen and employing him in the same late-inning capacity Trevor Rosenthal was so successful deployed in a year ago.

Posted in Cardinals, Featured, MLBComments (0)

Cardinals Spring Training Pics From InsideSTL

Our friends over at InsideSTL spent last week hanging out at a picnic table, and eventually under a tent, in Jupiter, Florida and talking with any Cardinal players that came by and were willing to sit down for a few minutes.

What resulted were some great candid shots of the guys as well as a very candid interview with Adam Wainwright about his contract situation.

The images below were posted to their website and are being shared here with their permission.

Carlos Beltran

Picture 1 of 62

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.

Posted in Cardinals, PhotographyComments (0)


Writers Wanted
PSA Banner