You know how, on shows that are arc-based, there’s usually that one major bad guy that pulls the strings on the entire season? Or on video games (so I hear, not being a major player of them since Pac-Man was huge) that there’s the boss to beat at the end of a level before you can move on? Lance Lynn is having a form of that in his recent starts. If he could defeat The Big Inning, he could do something.
Last game, he gave up all four runs to Houston in the fourth inning. The time before that, he only allowed one run to Chicago, so while it fits the mold of all runs in one inning, it’s not quite the same. Against Miami he gave up four of the seven runs he allowed in the first inning. He had two two-run innings against the Reds accounting for the four runs he allowed, so that seems to be the stopping point of this exercise.
Counting last night, in his last five starts Lynn is 2-2 with 21 earned runs in 30.2 innings (6.16 ERA). Lynn was better than his line indicated last night–in the second inning where the Angels scored all their runs, he was bled to death by a thousand paper cuts instead of being under heavy bombardment, and a misplay by Matt Carpenter behind him didn’t help either–but it’s still interesting to note that this is comparable to his dead period of last season.
Over his last five starts in June of 2012 (given that the final start in that period was June 30, it’s a fairly comparable time frame), Lynn went 2-2 with a 5.97 ERA. The big innings didn’t seem to haunt him there, as his runs were more spread out, but it was a similar June swoon.
And giving five runs to Jered Weaver, no matter if it’s in one lump sum or spread out over a few innings, isn’t exactly a recipe for a win. The Cards were able to get one run out of a single, double and groundout, but were unable to do anything more. Given the late start, I missed seeing that in the eighth, they loaded the bases with nobody out, only to have Matt Adams strike out and David Freese ground into a double play. When it’s going bad, it’s going bad.
I’m giving the Goat to Lynn, because it may not have been all his fault but you’d like to have seen him step up and make a pitch that would have stemmed the tide. He struck out Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton to end that inning, so it wasn’t his stuff that was the problem. The Hero goes to Allen Craig, who had two hits and scored the only run. Freese likely would have gotten it with two hits and the only RBI, but that double play in the eighth took him out of the running.
So what, if anything, does the team do with Lynn? Last year, his first three starts in July were strong, then he slumped again until he was removed from the rotation in mid-August. Can he avoid that fate this year? If he can, can he do it quickly?
It seems fairly clear that if the Cards are going to get back on the right track, they are going to have to do it with pitching. When Jon Jay, Daniel Descalso, and Pete Kozma make up the bottom third of your lineup, it’s going to be hard to start or continue rallies. That’s a lot of dead air and while those guys do come through occasionally, it’s not at a point where you can expect them to do so. However, unless John Mozeliak makes an unexpected trade, this is what the Cards are going to have to live with. Even if Oscar Taveras was the answer to center field, he’s still on Memphis’s DL. Our friend Bob Netherton is a big fan of Thomas Pham, but he just got to Memphis and is still adjusting to AAA. There’s no help coming that way, unless Ryan Jackson gets out of the major league doghouse and gets a crack at shortstop.
Carlos Martinez appears almost ready to be back in the rotation, but he’s only one player and we can’t be sure that he’ll immediately translate his minors success to the majors. He did OK in the bullpen, but the rotation is something different. Even if he can, he’s only one person and, right now, the only starter there’s a lot of confidence in is Adam Wainwright.
After his last start, which was such a disaster, Shelby Miller indicated that he had figured out what was wrong, corrected it, and couldn’t wait to get back on the mound to test it out. He’ll get that chance tonight as he goes up against the Angels. Obviously, none of them have ever seen Miller before, not even Josh Hamilton. Perhaps that unfamiliarity will give him a little bit of a boost, though it didn’t work for Lynn.
Cardinals have to face Jerome Williams. Williams has bounced around the league a little bit, but is having a good 2013, posting a 5-3 record with a 3.21 ERA, though only nine of his 20 appearances have been of the starting variety. He gave up just one run in 6.1 innings to Houston last time out, but allowed four to the Pirates in six innings the time before that.
Williams has spent some time with the Cubs and the Giants, so I thought there’d be a bigger sample here. Matt Holliday was a late scratch last night with a stiff neck, so hopefully he’ll be back in there again tonight. Otherwise Mike might see that 2-3 from Ty Wigginton……