Coming into last Friday (April 27th), I thought the Cardinals had a huge opportunity to put their foot down and really show the NL Central that they are the team to beat.
And then… They get swept.
Now the Pirates aren’t a bad team, but almost nobody in the baseball community looks at them as a playoff contender, myself included.
Friday looked promising, that is until the 9th inning. Miles Mikolas once again goes 7 strong innings allowing just two earned runs while striking out 7. Unfortunately for him, the bullpen and defensive miscues kept him from recording his 4th win of the season. This loss belongs on the defense, however Holland was hit pretty hard in the 9th inning. To many fans surprise, Bowman was the one who managed to get out of the jam. But the Cardinals did fall in 11 innings 6-5. This loss stung worse given the 3 run leading entering the 9th inning.
The next two games of the series the Cardinals only managed to score two runs and allowed themselves to be victims of a near perfect game. The Pirates are not a high caliber team, but they sure handled the Cardinals to end the month of April.
It wasn’t all bad though. In fact, there are some great things about this club.
1. Carlos Martínez is proving all of us wrong. After a horrendous Opening Day, Carlos has been lights out. In the month of April, Martínez has given up just 2 earned runs over 33.1 innings for a 0.54 ERA. He has also struck out 35 batters compared to 11 walks. Batters hit just .167 against him in April.
How good was Carlos Martinez in the month of April? 5 G 2-0 33.1 IP 0.54 ERA 0.90 WHIP 2 ER 35 K’s .167 AVG against He’s an ace, this debate is OVER. #STLCards
2. Miles Mikolas is efficient. Correction… He’s the most efficient starter in baseball. He currently leads the Majors in Strike-Percentage, BB/9, K/BB, and is 6th in P/IP. As stated above, he missed out on his fourth win against Pittsburgh but has a good opportunity coming.up.against a White Sox team that is currently 8-18 on the year. He currently has only given up 2 walks the entire year. In four of his five starts he has not walked a batter. That’s impressive.
Five shutout innings has Miles Mikolas’ ERA down to 2.90. He hasn’t walked a batter in 12 innings, or gone to a 3-ball count on any of his last 43 hitters. #STLCards
3. Tommy Pham is still a stud. Many critics claimed last season was just a fluke for the 30 year old outfielder, but he is certainly putting that to rest. He is batting .341 with 3 home runs and 5 stoles bases. He says he wants to be a 30-30 guy and he could do just that. He has a .964 OPS so far this season.
On-base percentage leaders: Rhys Hoskins: .468 Bryce Harper: .457 Joe Mauer: .454 Tommy Pham: .453 Aaron Judge: .449 Trailers Kole Calhoun: .196 Carlos Gomez: .229 Lewis Brinson: .230 Brandon Crawford: .240 Ian Desmond: .240
4. Jose Martinez can flat out hit. This guy rakes. He has the ability to hit pitches all over the strike zone and he puts hard contact on most balls that he hits. Although he defense has been less than impressive, his offensive production cannot be ignored. He has a .306 batting average with 3 homers and 18 RBI’S this far.
speaking of which, the Cardinals have made 58 outs on Barrels and Solid Contact – the most in the NL, and second in the entire MLB to only Cleveland. Only 8 players have made 10+ outs on Barrels or Solid Contact. Carpenter (11), Jose Martinez (10), Molina (10) among them
5. Jordan Hicks is one of the hardest throwers in baseball. For a while, he held the top 11 fastest pitches in the whole league. Over-use has shown that his velocity is a fragile thing, and since hasn’t added to his ridiculous numbers, but he still currently owns 5 of the top 10 fastest. His fastball/slider combination is deadly, and being accompaniedby the outlandish movement makes opposing batters go nuts.
Its interesting bc the batter is fooled here. Sure the pitch is moving and movement is enough to fool many, but the hitter is out in front, on front foot, on 100. I can see guys ‘reaching’ bc its so far outside. Just seems intriguing.
The Cardinals have still had their fare share of disappointment as well. In many fans eyes, Marcell Ozuna has yet to live up to the hype, but they hope his track record will sort itself out. Matt Carpenter, Kolten Wong, and Dexter Fowler are all currently batting under .200, leaving the door open to prospects playing more. Wong should have the easiest chance to play given his defensive ability, but so far, Marp has been favored given his track record. Fowler most likely won’t miss too much time either after signing the long term contract in the 2017 off-season. The bullpen has also been less than impresive. The signing of Greg Holland on opening day was supposed to give the Cardinals their closer, but so far it hasn’t been the greatest ride. I try giving him the benefit of the doubt since he didn’t have a Spring Training to work out kinks… but it’s becoming a pattern and it worries me. Bud Norris should get closing chances until Holland wins the job back. Norris and Hicks have been your best arms in the bullpen. Leone is getting closer to form, but most of the rest of your bullpen has been shoddy at best. Brebbia and Mayers have pitched well in limited roles but keep taking the train to Memphis. It’s going to be a fun month to see which arms stick around.
This team should be better than a 15-12 record at the end of April. Unfortunately, the Cardinals haven’t been able to finish some games. The main bright side has been their dominance of Cincinnati this far. But basically every team has dominated Cincinnati so take it how you will.
Yadier Molina is defying age and playing some of the best baseball of his career. Paul DeJong has struggled with strikeouts so far, but has 7 homers on the year, showcasing the power he had last season.
For Sunday Night Baseball May 6, we will have Cubs vs. Cardinals. Our poll question for that game is about Yadier Molina’s HOF resume. Over 1,750 hits, eight Gold Gloves, the best catcher of his generation. Is he…
I expect to see some overhauls in the next month when it comes to the bullpen usage as well as who starts for the Cardinals more regularly. Jedd Gyorko needs to play 3rd every day, so either Wong or Carpenter will have to sit.
I’m hoping the rotation can continue to be a strong point for the Cardinals. Other than a few duds, the rotation has been pretty solid. Martínez is throwing a Cy Young caliber season, and Mikolas seems to have been a bargain.
What are your thoughts? Use the #archcitycardsroundup and let me know on Twittee. Follow me @AaronArchCity
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