Tag Archive | "League Championship Series"

Jake Westbrook start a nice gesture, but not worth losing home-field advantage

The St. Louis Cardinals have starting pitcher Jake Westbrook to thank for helping them win the National League Central Division this season and make the playoffs in each of the last three years, but an attempt to recognize him for those contributions could cost them dearly in October.

jake westbrook I70

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny announced before Saturday’s game that Westbrook would start the final game of the season Sunday because the organization wanted to honor him for his Cardinals career, which is likely about to end.

Westbrook was the first of several Cardinals starters to go on the disabled list this season when he went down with elbow inflammation May 12. He was 2-1 at the time of the injury and had given up four runs total in his first five stars before a May 8 loss when he gave up four runs in 5.1 innings in his last start before the injury.

He returned to the rotation June 14 and won five of his next eight starts, but his performance dropped precipitously in August when he gave up 24 runs in four starts, and then the Cardinals put him back on the disabled list, citing back soreness.

Westbrook came back from that injury Sept. 6 against the Pittsburgh Pirates, allowed three runs in 1.1 innings and has not pitched since.

Still, Matheny plans to use him to start Sunday with the best record in the National League on the line instead of Joe Kelly, who will be the first pitcher used in relief.

Westbrook might pitch well in his first appearance in nearly a month and the Cardinals will cruise to a win over the lowly Cubs, but Matheny is taking a large risk with an important achievement left to get.

In the best-case scenario, the Cardinals will enter play Sunday with a  one-game lead over the Atlanta Braves for the best record in the league, which would guarantee them home-field advantage in the National League Championship Series if they make it that far.

But the Braves would get home-field advantage if the teams finish with identical records because they own the tiebreaker since they beat the Cardinals in four of their seven games during the regular season.

The location of those games was a significant factor in those games. The Braves swept a three-game series from the Cardinals in late July at Turner Field in Atlanta, but the Cardinals won three of four games against the Braves about a month later at Busch Stadium.

Plus, both teams have played exceptionally well at home compared to their performance in away games. The Braves were 31 games above the .500 mark heading into their final two home games against the Philadelphia Phillies but had just a 40-41 away record. The Cardinals were 25 games over .500 at home heading into play Saturday compared to five games above .500 on the road.

Based on their overall records and head-to-head games, home-field advantage would figure to be vital in a matchup between the Braves and Cardinals in a seven-game series.

The Braves will send rookie Julio Teheran, with his 13-8 record and 3.09 earned-run average, to the mound Sunday to try to clinch home-field advantage.

The Cardinals will rely on a veteran with a 7-8 record and 4.67 ERA who has not pitched in nearly a month.

A lot still has to happen for the Braves and Cardinals to meet with a trip to the World Series on the line, but one of the keys to that potential series could be decided Sunday simply because the Cardinals want to honor one of their pitchers.

It’s a courteous move, but the game is too important to leave open the possibility of a loss because it could lead to a much bigger loss a couple of weeks later.

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Best record important, but St. Louis Cardinals should have Adam Wainwright ready to start playoffs

The St. Louis Cardinals will be the National League Central Division champions as they enter the playoffs, but where they begin the postseason is still an important mystery.

Wainwright

The Cardinals took a one-half-game lead over the Atlanta Braves for the best record in the National League into play Thursday when the Braves face the Philadelphia Phillies while the Cardinals wait to begin their final three-game series of the season at Busch Stadium against the Chicago Cubs.

As was the case in the Cardinals’ World Series championship season of 2011, they will face the worst team in the NL Central while the Braves play the Phillies. However, the Cardinals played the Houston Astros to close that season, and the Cardinals and Braves were fighting just to make the playoffs in 2011.

Now they are competing for the best record in the National League, which would guarantee them home-field advantage through the National League Championship Series.

The Cardinals don’t have Chris Carpenter to send to the mound in the final game of the season as they did two years ago, but they still have one of the best pitchers in the league ready to go in the final series, if necessary.

But here’s the thing. It is not necessary.

The Cardinals could pitch Adam Wainwright on Saturday, which would be his regularly scheduled day to start, or they could hold him back until Sunday if they need a win on the final day of the season to clinch the best record in the league.

However, if he pitches Sunday, that would put him on short rest to start Game 1 of the National League Division Series, and the Cardinals would almost certainly push him back to Game 2.

A third option would be to shut Wainwright down until the playoffs regardless, but that opens up a problem of too much rest if he goes from Monday until next Thursday between starts.

He will instead probably pitch Saturday or Sunday, and at this point Saturday would be the much better option.

Sure, the Cardinals might lost home-field advantage in the NLCS if they don’t win enough games against the Cubs this weekend, but with a playoff spot already in hand, the Cardinals would be more prudent to maximize their strategic advantages for the first round of the playoffs because there is no guarantee they will even make it the next round and be able to use what would be their home-field advantage.

At this point, Wainwright in Game 1 of the division series is more important than Wainwright on Sunday against the Cubs.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny can still use Wainwright on Saturday and then use a pitcher such as rookie Michael Wacha on Sunday. That setup would still give the Cardinals a legitimate chance to win and gain home-field advantage throughout the National League playoffs, but it would more importantly position Wainwright to pitch the first game of the playoffs.

Plus, a winning performance from Wainwright against the Cubs is far from certain. Wainwright has struggled against the Cubs more than any team throughout his career outside of the Atlanta Braves, which would arouse another whole set of questions for later in the playoffs.

Anyway, Wainwright as a career 4.44 earned-run average and a 7-6 record through the seven full seasons he has pitched in Major League Baseball.

So a win from Wainwright on Saturday and Sunday is not nearly as likely as one might first assume, even though the Cardinals are 28 games better than the Cubs heading into play Friday.

The Cardinals would be smart to let Wainwright pitch Saturday on normal rest and be ready for Game 1 of the playoffs instead of having him pitch Sunday and risk losing that game while also losing him until Game 2 of the division series.

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Home-field advantage could be vital for St. Louis Cardinals

Although the St. Louis Cardinals did not have full possession of first place in their own division heading into play Sunday, they were just three games away from having the best record in the National League, which could be a vital advantage come October.

Busch_Stadium Retired Numbers

The Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates had identical 86-62 records as of Sunday and both trailed the Atlanta Braves by three games for the best record in the league, which would guarantee them home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, until the World Series, of course, because the American League won the All-Star Game in July.

But that nonsense aside, home-field advantage is a strong reward for having the best record. The term includes the word “advantage” for a reason. Part of what doomed the Cardinals in the 2012 National League Championship Series against the San Francisco Giants was the same factor that helped St. Louis win the World Series the year before.

Those winning teams played games 6 and 7 at home where they felt more comfortable and could feed off of the energy from their fans and the home environment.

Now, home-field advantage certainly does not guarantee success. The Cardinals won every postseason series in 2006 despite never having home-field advantage, and they beat the Washington Nationals in the 2012 division series even though the final three games were in Washington, D.C.

But home-field advantage certainly does help, and it could help the Cardinals this year more than normal, especially with the glut of young pitchers on the roster and potential postseason starters in second-year pitchers Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly, and rookies Shelby Miller and Michael Wacha.

Along with a much better record against teams below the .500 mark, the Cardinals other lopsided record is their home and away splits.

St. Louis has played 20 games above .500 at Busch Stadium compared to four games above .500 on the road. Not surprisingly, their stats fall in line with those records.

The Cardinals hit for a .271 batting average at home compared to .260 on the road, but the bigger difference is how the pitching staff performs in away games. The Cardinals’ staff has a 3.29 earned-run average in home games but a 3.73 ERA on the road.

It would also be important for the Cardinals to finish with the best record in the National League because their potential postseason opponents have even more dramatic home and road splits.

The NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers pitch to a 3.13 ERA at home compared to 3.47 on the road, and the NL East-leading Braves have a National League-best 2.47 home ERA but a 3.70 ERA away from Turner Field.

The only aspect of the game that would benefit a road team is the Dodgers offense, which hits .258 at Dodger Stadium and a Major League Baseball-best .274 on the road.

The Cardinals also lost three of their four games at home to the Dodgers in early August, but that was also during a stretch when they lost 13 of 17 games that included a three-game sweep by the Braves in Atlanta.

Once the Cardinals got their season back together, they took three of four from the Braves in late August at Busch Stadium. They have also won six of nine games against the Pirates at home while losing seven of 10 in Pittsburgh. Against the third-place team in the NL Central, the Cincinnati Reds, the Cardinals have also won six of nine home games and split the away games 5-5.

The Cardinals are nearly guaranteed a spot in the 2013 playoffs and have an excellent chance to win the NL Central with just one opponent with a winning record, the Washington Nationals, remaining.

But they also still have a chance to catch the Braves for the best record in the National League, and that accomplishment could make a large difference in which team represents the league in the World Series.

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Duffy begins rehab ahead of Naturals Homestand

Duffy_Danny 5668.jpg

SPRINGDALE, Ark. – The Naturals’ parent club, the Kansas City Royals announced  that starting pitcher Danny Duffy will begin his Major League rehab assignment with the Naturals on Sunday against the San Antonio Missions.

Duffy is expected to be with the Naturals for their upcoming homestand that begins on Tuesday May 28th.

Last season the hard-throwing lefthander made the Royals starting rotation out of Spring Training and made six starts, going 2-2 with a 3.90 ERA, striking out 28 batters in 27⅔ innings, before being placed in the Disabled List on May 14 with a left elbow injury and undergoing Tommy John surgery on June 13.

A major contributor on the Naturals Texas League Championship team, Duffy made two post-season starts and earned the win in the opening game of the Texas League Championship Series against the Midland RockHounds. Duffy went 5-2 with a 2.95 ERA in seven regular season starts with the Naturals in 2010.

Duffy is the second former Natural to return to the team on a rehab assignment, joining Greg Holland who returned to Northwest Arkansas for two games in 2012.

The Southern California-native will wear number 41 for the Naturals. The Naturals roster is at the Texas League limit of 25 players, plus Duffy who is on a Major League rehab assignment.

The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the Double-A Texas League Affiliate of the Kansas City Royals and proud host of the 77th Annual Texas League All Star Game. The Naturals play at state-of-the-art Arvest Ballpark in Springdale, AR. For more information including statistics, ticket options, and more, please visit NWANaturals.com, and follow us on Twitter @NWANaturals and Facebook.com/Naturals.

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St. Louis Cardinals bring roller-coaster offense into 2013 season

The St. Louis Cardinals finished second in the National League in hitting last season, but they also had plenty of stretches when the lineup didn’t score more than two runs, even when the pitching staff threw a great game.

jake westbrook I70

And that trend has already continued into 2013.

The San Francisco Giants scored just one unearned run Friday off of Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook, who threw a very solid 6.2 innings and pitched well enough to earn a win, but the Cardinals couldn’t score any runs off of Giants starter Barry Zito and lost the game 1-0.

Yes, Zito is the same lefthanded pitcher who shut the Cardinals down in Game Five of the 2012 National League Championship Series, but the Cardinals have already shown signs of a team that will go through weeks when it struggles mightily to score a run, while other weeks it hits homers at an incredible rate.

In just the first four games of the season, the Cardinals scored 15 of their 17 runs in two games. They were held to two runs by Arizona Diamondbacks starter Ian Kennedy in the season opener, and then Zito and the Giants shut them out Friday.

This pattern is certain to cause frustration among fans who see starts such as Westbrook’s Friday outing wasted because the offense can’t score.

It’s also not a prototypical pattern of success. In fact, it was one of the biggest reasons the Giants beat the Cardinals in seven games in last year’s NLCS. No pitching staff is going to be able to carry an offense that scores one run in the final three games of that series.

The Cardinals actually scored 52 runs combined in their seven playoff wins last season, but they scored just five runs in their six losses.

And that one day hot, one day not syndrome carried into 2013. The Cardinals even showed inconsistency at the plate during the month of spring training games. They scored seven or more runs in nine of their 16 wins and scored three or fewer runs in 12 of their 15 losses.

Those numbers show the offense might be the most important factor for the Cardinals this season. Sure, the pitching staff has to pitch quality games more often than not, but the numbers say the Cardinals win-loss record is primarily defined by how well the offense hits.

When the Cardinals hit the ball well, they win. When they don’t, they lose.

That’s a pretty simple formula, but it’s also a scary one since the Cardinals have injury-prone hitters such as Carlos Beltran, Allen Craig and David Freese as important pieces of their lineup.

Beltran is playing through a fractured toe and has had trouble moving in the first week, Craig nearly injured his knee again by sliding into a wall in Arizona and Freese started the season on the disabled list with a back injury.

Those issues have surely played a part in the offense’s early struggles, and none of those figure to be major problems for the Cardinals throughout the season. Freese’s return by, hopefully, Monday’s home opener against the Cincinnati Reds will help, but the entire offense is going to have to be more consistent throughout the course of the season.

That means they’ll likely have to score more runs by playing small ball and moving a runner along the bases without getting a hit. Craig and Matt Holliday did a great job of manufacturing a run in the fourth inning of Tuesday’s 6-1 win over the Diamondbacks, which also happened to be the Cardinals only win of the season heading into play Saturday.

Centerfielder Jon Jay led off the inning with a double, Holliday then grounded out to second base to advance Jay to third and Craig followed with another groundout to score Jay.

The big homeruns and innings filled with bunches of runs might be fun to watch, just as a roller-coaster is fun to ride, but the steady, consistent innings that produce a run or two every day will more likely determine the Cardinals final record.

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David Freese, St. Louis Cardinals arbitration talk shouldn’t raise concerns

One of the men most responsible for the St. Louis Cardinals’ 2011 World Series championship is currently locked in a battle with the team to be paid more like the star he is becoming, but this isn’t the type of battle that should raise serious concerns.

DavidFreese

David Freese is one of the most talented young position players the Cardinals have, and he has plenty of potential to grow into another St. Louis baseball superstar. So far, the team has gotten an incredible bargain with Freese, who has made just $1.7 million total in his four-year career and is currently the 16th highest-paid player on the team.

It’s time for Freese to start earning more money. In his four years with the club, Freese has hit .296 and his power numbers have increased exponentially each year. He finished with career highs in hits, homeruns, doubles, runs scored and RBIs in 2012. And don’t forget he has a career .345 postseason batting average and was the MVP of the 2011 National League Championship Series and World Series.

He could fairly easily make a case that he deserves more than the $3.75 million he is asking for this offseason. The Cardinals have countered with a $2.4-million offer. The case will go to arbitration sometime between Monday and Feb. 20 if the two sides can’t strike a deal.

Now, while all of this sounds as though Freese and the Cardinals can’t see eye-to-eye on his worth, this is more of just a typical baseball business deal. Nobody will have their feelings hurt too no matter how the case finally plays out. The Cardinals have already finalized similar deals with relievers Jason Motte, Mitchell Boggs, Edward Mujica and Marc Rzepczynski.

Even if the case goes to arbitration and the Cardinals win, Freese will be in line for a big-money contract within the next three years. He won’t be a free agent until 2016. By that point the Cardinals will know whether Freese is going to be a franchise cornerstone at third base or if he will succumb to his substantial injury history that has kept him from playing 100 or more games in all but one season.

However, the Cardinals would still be smart to lock Freese up with a long-term deal as soon as possible because player salaries will only continue to rise throughout Major League Baseball.

The Cardinals made a smart decision early in Albert Pujols’ career to sign him to a 10-year, $110-million contract in 2001, and that deal was considered a bargain by the time it expired at the end of the 2011 season. Pujols’ next contract was worth more than twice that amount when he signed a 10-year, $240-million deal last year with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Freese and the Cardinals would both be in better positions if they could work out a long-term deal sometime soon, but right now the organization has other pressing matters. Namely, Adam Wainwright’s contract.
Wainwright is scheduled to be a free agent at the end of the season, and his asking price will likely be astronomical if the Cardinals can’t sign him to a contract before he hits the open market.

The Cardinals did sign catcher Yadier Molina to a five-year, $75-million contract last offseason, so they will have a strong core group of position players for the next few years.

And that’s what makes Freese’s contract situation a tad bit irrelevant. The difference of little more than $1 million this year shouldn’t have much of an effect on future negotiations.

Freese will get paid what he is due at some point. How soon the Cardinals will be willing to make that commitment is what will be the most interesting part of this situation.

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Did The Cardinals Miss Their Shortstop?

The St. Louis Cardinals went into the offseason with a very short shopping list.  Solidify the bullpen, which they accomplished with the signing of Randy Choate, and upgrade the middle infield.

StephenDrew

The rumors have flown and the team has been attached to just about any shortstop that was even rumored to be available.  While rumors and pundits wondered what direction they would go, they have quietly stood their ground.  Whether that is by choice or by force, the team has not been able to pull the trigger and the options have gotten slim.

The most active rumor was concerning Cleveland’s Asdrubal Cabrera.  Now that Cleveland has completed a deal that sent Shin Soo Choo to Cincinnati, most expect them to keep the soon-to-be free agent for the time being.  Cabrera offered a large upgrade offensively as well as an above average glove.  Possibly the player that would have made the most impact for the team, Cabrera seems to be off the market and out of the question.

While very few rumors surfaced surrounding the young Dodger shortstop Dee Gordon, it seemed like a logical fit when the West Coast Yankees expressed interest in utility man Skip Schumaker.  Alas, the Cardinals got a shortstop in return, but it was in the form of former fifth round draft pick Jake Lemmerman.  The move provided St. Louis with a much needed addition in depth at the minor league level, but leaves them contemplating what to do at the major league level still.

Further rumors connected the Redbirds to the player that proved to be a thorn in their side in this year’s National League Championship Series, Marco Scutaro.  Scutaro had the unique ability to provide an upgrade at either short or second base and could have added some veteran leadership to a club that continues to get even younger.  Scutaro proved that his loyalty was to the team that brought him his first championship and signed on the dotted line to remain in San Francisco.

Possibly the largest rumor of them all had the Cards looking to bring Texas shortstop Elvis Andrus to the Gateway City.  Andrus represented an increase in offensive productivity, he would be a step back on the defensive front.  Texas has the youth to make such a move, but as the winter has gone on, they have seemed like they do not have faith that they are ready to make that move as of yet.  News breaking of Josh Hamilton‘s new contract in Anaheim will have Texas looking to hold on to the offensive weapons they have.  They are in the market for pitching, which the Cardinals have an abundance of, but the price may be too steep overall.

The final hope may be a player they have expressed interest in already this offseason, Stephen Drew.  Drew has drawn interest from multiple places.  Most experts expect him to land back in Oakland but no movement has been made to that direction as of yet.  Drew would be a risk investment as the Cardinals would hope that his offensive production could return to levels previously shown in his early career.  He also poses a bit of a health risk which may not be that much better than what they currently have.  There has been talk of Drew being willing to play second base, which makes him a bit more attractive in the long run.

The club has stood by the fact that it would wait to hear how current shortstop Rafael Furcal‘s injury was progressing before they would pursue any other options.  What few reports have surfaced concerning Furcal have been positive.

If, in fact, this team wants to upgrade in the middle infield, it may be time to do it or miss out.

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March Madness – All Time Cardinals Tourney Second Round

Drop by our friends at Pitchers Hit Eighth, C70 At The Bat, and Aaron Miles’ Fastball to vote in the Musial, Smith, and Gibson Regions of the tournament.  The turn out to this point has been outstanding and we move forward today with the opening of the second round of the tournament.  I-70 is the home of the Buck Region, and the bracket now looks like this:

Which brings us to your participation.

Voting for this round closes Wednesday night at 8 p.m. Central Time.

It’s time to get the Buck Bracket down to four teams and we need your vote in the following four games:

The top seed in the bracket, the 1942 Cardinals, posted a shut-out in their opening match-up.  It is important to note that this is the most successful team in Cardinal history.  With 106 wins (most in franchise history) and a decisive 4 games to 1 victory over the mighty Yankees.  The 1942 team was the beginning of one of the few dynasties in Cardinals history, which would see the team play in four of five World Series and bring home three titles.  A young rookie named Stan Musial had joined the team and pitcher Mort Cooper would bring home a Most Valuable Player Award for his performance.

The 1957 Cardinals were the loan “upset” in our opening round in the Buck Region, knocking off the 1947 team placed just ahead of them in the seeding.  The team that year would finish in second place, watching the Milwaukee Braves represent the National League in the World Series.  A winning record of 87-67 would not be enough for an offensive heavy edition of the Birds-on-the-bat as Stan Musial would once again lead the team in production.

Round 2 Game 1

  • (1) 1942 (92%, 11 Votes)
  • (9) 1957 (8%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 12

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The fifth seed in our bracket, the 2005 Cardinals, breezed into the next round, and rightfully so.  A great team at a low-seed, the 2005 edition produced 100 wins before losing in heart-breaking fashion to the Houston Astros in the National League Championship Series.  That series produced memorable moments for many Cardinal fans despite ending prior to reaching the pinnacle of the game.  The team was so dominant that they would bring home a Cy Young Award for Chris Carpenter and a Most Valuable Player Award for Albert Pujols.

Our number four seed, however, is part of the dynasty that we discussed with our number one seed in the tournament.  If the 1942 Cardinals started the dynasty, the 1943 Cardinals were the only stumbling block.  They won 105 games, second most in franchise history and Stan Musial would bring home the Most Valuable Player Award.  They were dominant from wire to wire, until they reached the World Series.  The only team in the 1940′s run to not win a World Series, the team was very successful otherwise.  The match-up of two great teams that couldn’t win the World Series promises to be one of the best in this bracket.

Round 2 Game 2

  • (5) 2005 (58%, 7 Votes)
  • (4) 1943 (42%, 5 Votes)

Total Voters: 12

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The dynasty of the 1940′s continues with our fourth seed, the 1944 Cardinals.  Matching their previous year, the team would win 105 games and, this time, would not disappoint in the Fall Classic.  The second World Championship of the decade would find it’s way home to St. Louis as Stan Musial continued to become a household name.  The World Series would never leave St. Louis that year as the Cardinals would defeat the Browns four games to two.

The 2009 Cardinals were expected to be a force when they reached the playoffs after winning 91 games during the season.  Unfortunately, when they arrived at the National League Division Series, the team seemed over matched and out of place.  The Los Angeles Dodgers sent them home quickly and brought a disappointing end to another strong season under Tony LaRussa.

Round 2 Game 3

  • (3) 1944 (83%, 10 Votes)
  • (6) 2009 (17%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 12

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Our final game pits our number seven seed, 1935, against the number two seed.  The 1935 group is yet another promising team that did not play in the World Series.  With 96 wins, the team fell four games back of the league winner that year, the hated Chicago Cubs.  This team would see Dizzy Dean finish second for the Most Valuable Player Award, three spots in front of teammate Joe Medwick.

Our namesake here at i70baseball, the 1985 Cardinals, may be the emotional pick and one of the best, non-championship teams in our bracket.  A team built on speed, defense, and fundamentals, the 85 crew was lead by Willie McGee and his .353 batting average and two hurlers that would finish in the top five of the Cy Young voting – Joaquin Andujar (4) and John Tudor (2).

Round 2 Game 4

  • (2) 1985 (100%, 12 Votes)
  • (7) 1935 (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 12

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There you go, run and vote and share with all your friends.  Visit the other sties above to cast your votes in their brackets and help us decide who the greatest Cardinal team of all time is.

A bit of a teaser from Nick at Pitchers Hit Eighth today: Also, stay tuned to the United Cardinal Bloggers website later today for a fun contest you can participate in along with the Tourney!

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Cardinal Great Bob Forsch Passes

The news is still very young at this point, but Cardinal great Bob Forsch has apparently died of a heart attack at the age of 61.

You can read the official press release from the club, by clicking here to read a PDF file.

Forsch is best remember in St. Louis for his place in the pitching rotation through the successful “Whiteyball” years. A Cardinal from 1974 until an August trade in 1988 sent him to the Houston Astros for Denny Walling, Forsch was a staple in the starting rotation.

I-70′s resident historical writer, Bob Netherton, had some thoughts on Forsch:

I was saddened to hear the news of Bob Forsch’s passing. He was always a fan favorite, and for good reason. We know all about the two no-hitters, but the fact that he was the only player that Herzog kept from the 70s team to last through all three NL Pennants says far more about him as a player and person than those two magnificent games. Forsch was a mirror of the team he played for, never seeking the spotlight, probably wasn’t the best at his position, but he gave it everything he had each time he was called on. From the rotation, to the bullpen, back to the rotation – whatever the team needed, Forsch was there.

Forsch was a stingy pitcher who walked few but also did not strike out many. A pitch to contact hurler in a spacious Busch Stadium, Forsch was also a work horse that threw over 200 innings seven times in his 16 year career. He would also post double digit wins in all but five of his seasons on the mound, winning 20 games for the one and only time in 1977.

A steady pitcher that anchored many rotations, Forsch was never regarded as the ace of the staff. In fact, he led the league in one category one time in his career with a 1.4 walks per nine innings in 1980. He was also regarded as a very good hitter and would retain two Silver Slugger awards, 1980 and 1987, for his commitment at the plate.

More from Netherton:

My favorite Forsch moment came in Game Three of the 1987 National League Championship Series. The Cardinals were being bullied around by Will Clark and Jeffrey Leonard. Forsch came into the game and immediately took control but hitting Leonard with a pitch. It put a runner in scoring position, but Forsch never let that runner cross the plate. It started one of the greatest comebacks in Cardinals postseason history. What a competitor.

Forsch would throw two no hitters in his time with the Cardinals. His first would come on April 16, 1978 against the Philadelphia Phillies, the second on September 26, 1983 against the Montreal Expos. As impressive as it was for Forsch to throw two no hitters in his career, it was a game that he did not pitch that would etch his name into Major League Baseball’s record books. Almost one year to the day after Bob threw his first no hitter, his brother Ken would throw a no hitter for the Houston Astros on April 7, 1979 against the Atlanta Braves. They are the only brothers to every throw no hitters in Major League Baseball history.

Most recently, Forsch has been serving as the pitching coach for the Rookie League affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, the Billings Mustangs.

Netherton’s final thought: Bob Forsch was one of my favorite players, and he will be missed.

Bob Forsch’s career statistics:

Year Age Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO ERA+ WHIP H/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
1970 20 STL-min 2 3 .400 4.94 8 5 31.0 38 26 17 19 1.839 11.0 5.5 LEW,CDR · NORW,MIDW
1971 21 STL-min 11 7 .611 3.13 23 23 158.0 140 74 55 41 134 1.146 8.0 2.3 7.6 3.27 CDR · MIDW
1972 22 STL-min 8 10 .444 4.35 24 24 7 2 153.0 158 85 74 47 109 1.340 9.3 2.8 6.4 2.32 ARK · TL
1973 23 STL-min 12 12 .500 4.39 27 27 166.0 169 91 81 66 1.416 9.2 3.6 TUL · AA
1974 24 STL-min 8 5 .615 3.67 15 14 7 0 103.0 95 49 42 33 71 1.243 8.3 2.9 6.2 2.15 TUL · AA
1974 24 STL 7 4 .636 2.97 19 14 0 5 2 100.0 84 38 33 34 39 123 1.180 7.6 3.1 3.5 1.15
1975 25 STL 15 10 .600 2.86 34 34 0 7 4 230.0 213 89 73 70 108 134 1.230 8.3 2.7 4.2 1.54
1976 26 STL 8 10 .444 3.94 33 32 0 2 0 194.0 209 112 85 71 76 90 1.443 9.7 3.3 3.5 1.07
1977 27 STL 20 7 .741 3.48 35 35 0 8 2 217.1 210 97 84 69 95 112 1.284 8.7 2.9 3.9 1.38
1978 28 STL 11 17 .393 3.70 34 34 0 7 3 233.2 205 110 96 97 114 96 1.292 7.9 3.7 4.4 1.18
1979 29 STL 11 11 .500 3.83 33 32 0 7 1 218.2 215 102 93 52 92 100 1.221 8.8 2.1 3.8 1.77
1980 30 STL 11 10 .524 3.77 31 31 0 8 0 214.2 225 102 90 33 87 99 1.202 9.4 1.4 3.6 2.64
1981 31 STL 10 5 .667 3.18 20 20 0 1 0 124.1 106 47 44 29 41 112 1.086 7.7 2.1 3.0 1.41
1982 32 STL 15 9 .625 3.48 36 34 1 6 2 233.0 238 95 90 54 69 105 1.253 9.2 2.1 2.7 1.28
1983 33 STL 10 12 .455 4.28 34 30 3 6 2 187.0 190 104 89 54 56 85 1.305 9.1 2.6 2.7 1.04
1984 34 STL 2 5 .286 6.02 16 11 2 1 0 52.1 64 38 35 19 21 59 1.586 11.0 3.3 3.6 1.11
1985 35 STL 9 6 .600 3.90 34 19 4 3 1 136.0 132 63 59 47 48 92 1.316 8.7 3.1 3.2 1.02
1986 36 STL 14 10 .583 3.25 33 33 0 3 0 230.0 211 91 83 68 104 114 1.213 8.3 2.7 4.1 1.53
1987 37 STL 11 7 .611 4.32 33 30 1 2 1 179.0 189 90 86 45 89 97 1.307 9.5 2.3 4.5 1.98
1988 38 TOT 10 8 .556 4.29 36 18 3 1 1 136.1 153 73 65 44 54 81 1.445 10.1 2.9 3.6 1.23
1988 38 STL 9 4 .692 3.73 30 12 3 1 1 108.2 111 51 45 38 40 94 1.371 9.2 3.1 3.3 1.05
1988 38 HOU 1 4 .200 6.51 6 6 0 0 0 27.2 42 22 20 6 14 52 1.735 13.7 2.0 4.6 2.33
1989 39 HOU 4 5 .444 5.32 37 15 5 0 0 108.1 133 68 64 46 40 64 1.652 11.0 3.8 3.3 0.87
16 Seasons 168 136 .553 3.76 498 422 19 67 19 2794.2 2777 1319 1169 832 1133 98 1.291 8.9 2.7 3.6 1.36
162 Game Avg. 12 10 .553 3.76 37 31 1 5 1 207 205 97 86 61 84 98 1.291 8.9 2.7 3.6 1.36
W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO ERA+ WHIP H/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
STL (15 yrs) 163 127 .562 3.67 455 401 14 67 19 2658.2 2602 1229 1085 780 1079 101 1.272 8.8 2.6 3.7 1.38
HOU (2 yrs) 5 9 .357 5.56 43 21 5 0 0 136.0 175 90 84 52 54 61 1.669 11.6 3.4 3.6 1.04
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/4/2011.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
Follow him on Twitter here.

Editor’s Note: I feel compelled to include a few Tweets from around Cardinal Nation this morning:

I've always heard stories about Bob Forsch from his playing days. R.I.P. Sad news. #stlcards
@FishSTL
Michael Fisher
Bob Forsch was who I imagined myself to be playing ball in the street as a boy, hitting grand slams & pitching no-hitters for the #stlcards.
@bamatthews
Ben Matthews
Oh man...Bob Forsch. Rest in peace, brother. #stlcards
@deckacards
Kevin Reynolds
Thinking of Bob Forsch's family today. Rest in peace, Bob. #stlcards
@singmichele
Michele
Stunned, saddened to hear the news that Bob Forsch has passed away. We talked last week, before Game 7. I am praying for his family. So sad.
@Ackerman1120
Tom Ackerman
Bob Forsch pitched two no-hitters for #stlcards. I was there to see his first in 1978. Groundball under Reitz glove at 3B ruled an error
@Jeffsteig
Jeff Lloyd

Posted in Cardinals, ClassicComments (0)

LaRussa Provides New Style

I have not been the biggest supporter of Tony LaRussa in St. Louis on a regular basis. I have, however, been known to say “it is hard to argue with results”.

The man has hit his pitcher eighth (giving birth to one of the most must read sites on the ‘net), has converted an outfielder into a second baseman, and plays match-up baseball with his bullpen to a maddening level. He even seems to draw other managers into his mindset on the opposite side of the field, engaging in a chess match that involves numerous arms, double switches, and pinch hitters in single innings.

But he gets the job done.

Today I come to you to point out the seemingly obvious. To bring your attention to a genius at work. To show that, not only is he managing this game, he is establishing a way of managing this game that has never truly been seen. Much like the introduction of left-handed specialist relief pitchers and the closer, sometimes a truly different mind can bring you a fresh look at an age old problem.

Tony has exposed the League Championship Series schedule to his benefit in a whole new way. By carrying 12 pitchers and putting to use the travel days that occur, at most, three games apart, LaRussa has made it apparent that he will use every weapon in his arsenal to handle most any inning that the opposition will threaten.

The typical idea with a pitching staff is to shorten a game to six or seven innings. With two solid relief pitchers and a close-the-door closer, the starting pitcher simply needs to go six innings and turn the ball over to his capable bullpen. A starter that goes seven or eight innings then provides some rest for the bullpen and keeps the arms fresh.

However, given the layout of a league championship series, managers know that they can go to those two or three shutdown arms frequently and thus cut the requirement of the starting pitching down drastically. The schedule for these series goes two games – travel day – three games -travel day – two games, giving rest days to the players in regular fashion.

Enter Tony LaRussa.

A manager that loves to play the match-ups between hitters and pitchers suddenly realized that he did not need to have his starting pitcher go that long into a game for his bullpen to be able to shut down the remainder of the contest. People everywhere are quick to point out that no starter has gone six innings for the Cardinals in the NLCS. Very few are acknowledging that LaRussa may very well be utilizing the strong bullpen to take over early on and is not looking for much more than four innings out of his starters.

Requiring the starter to get into the fifth or sixth inning and realizing that he can play the lefty-lefty match-up or turn to a reliever with strong numbers against a strong hitter in a key situation and know that there is no concern to find someone to keep the game moving to the back-end of the bullpen is a commodity that LaRussa seems to both covet and exploit.

The starters are doing their job. The bullpen is doing their’s as well.

LaRussa seems to be making the right calls at the right times.

It’s hard to argue with results.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
Follow him on Twitter here.

Posted in Cardinals, FeaturedComments (0)

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