This four-day All-Star Break is tough, isn’t it? Back in the old days, you had Monday for Home Run Derby and Tuesday for the game, so it was really just Wednesday that was the issue, slogging through that with no baseball. That’s doable–we do off days all through the season (including a ton here in the next few days). However, when they went ahead and extended the break through Thursday a few years ago, that made it really rough. Two days with nothing, not even an exhibition, is something baseball fans are not built for. I understand why they did it, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
As for the All-Star Game, I don’t really want to dwell on it. I think the whole Adam Wainwright thing was blown way out of proportion because of who it involved (Derek Jeter) and the fact that it was the only game in town. (Mr. Buffa has done a fine job going into the issue.) I think that it’s good that it got blown up, because that tended to obscure the fact that Cardinal pitching was really the reason the AL won, since Wainwright and Pat Neshek gave up all the runs and all but one of the hits. Without the whole “Pipegate” thing, there’d been a lot of folks wanting to rub that into Cardinal fans’ faces. I also hope that the Cardinals have to pay for that by opening the Series somewhere else, then win it in 5 games on Busch Stadium turf. It’s been done before.
Let’s move on. Not a lot of trade talk over the break, but there were the comments from Jeff Passan that the Cards were tied to a big name that he couldn’t report without confirmation. Most likely, this winds up to be one of those unsolved mysteries as a trade doesn’t get done and we never really know who it was. If you want to get into the speculation, Viva El Birdos did a fine job here. It’s nice to know John Mozeliak is out there talking, but I don’t expect anything to go down anytime soon. If Mo makes his move before the 28th, I’d be a bit surprised.
I’d guess more than anything he’s looking for pitching, however. There’s still no timetable at all on Michael Wacha, which makes me start thinking that it’s getting more and more likely we won’t see him this year. Even if we do, it would seem early September might be the quickest he’d return, which is an eternity in a race like this. With Shelby Miller completely out of whack and Carlos Martinez being erratic if exciting, a veteran arm, preferably a top-of-the-rotation type like Cliff Lee, would seem to be the best target. I think Lee is a great fit for most of the reasons listed here. He’d also cost less than David Price (I see the Mariners are in on him now, which, wow, him and Felix Hernandez back to back? Goodness!) and he’s an Arkansas boy, which is always a plus to this Razorback.
It was noted this morning that the Phillies had no interest in dealing Cole Hamels. Not that the Cards would have necessarily gone after him, but they were one of the few teams to which he couldn’t block a trade. I’m not really sure how Hamels would have meshed in the clubhouse, something I do think Mozeliak takes into consideration, but adding him into a rotation that is suddenly thin wouldn’t have been a bad thing at all.
Mike Matheny announced his rotation yesterday for this weekend and, surprisingly (at least to me), it didn’t include Wainwright. The announced reason of giving him some rest and getting him primed up for the second half makes sense and I’m not arguing about it, but I’d have thought that they would want him to go here because that might (and I’ve not plotted it out through the end of the season, so I can’t be sure) give him an extra start during the year. With a race as tight as we have now, that one extra start could be quite big.
That said, someone–and forgive me, I can’t remember who right now–said in a conversation with me on Twitter (I think it was Ben, maybe Doug) that Matheny would probably want to avoid the hype of pitting Wainwright against Clayton Kershaw on Sunday Night Baseball. Given what we know of Matheny, I think that makes a ton of sense. He wouldn’t want to create hype or have his All-Star starter decision rehashed constantly, especially if Kershaw won. It seems completely in keeping with his low-key approach to everything. That said, I think baseball fans lose out on this one. Having that be the national game would be a huge thing for folks to watch.
Anyway, let’s get to it. Cards are going with Lance Lynn today, and if you aren’t going to start the second half with Waino (and you wouldn’t, since he threw some on Tuesday), Lynn’s your next best choice out of this rotation. Lynn already has 10 wins under his belt (if you like that kinda thing) and has only had one real hiccup in his last 10 starts. He’s developing into the guy that can be counted on for a good outing and The Lynning meme seems to have been put to bed for the time being.
Of course, that one hiccup in his last 10? Yeah, to the Dodgers, when he allowed six runs in two innings.
The numbers aren’t great for Lynn against this squad, though obviously some of that is skewed by the nine hits he allowed last time out. Hopefully being at home and having some extra rest will let him perform a bit better against a tough Dodger team.
It’s not really a homecoming for him–Dan Haren has been back in St. Louis often since the December 2004 trade that sent him to Oakland for Mark Mulder–but it’s always good to see the former Cardinal prospect. Good for the fans, that is. I doubt the hitters have the same mindset. Haren missed the earlier Cardinal-Dodger matchup, so the last time he faced his original squad was April of last year when he was with the Nationals, allowing three runs in five innings.
It’s not too surprising that Haren hasn’t faced a lot of these Cardinals much, given the relative inexperience of the club and the infrequency that he runs into them. It is nice to see that the players that have seen him the most have done fairly well against him, though.
Haren has scuffled in his last two starts, allowing four runs in four innings to the Padres (which is like giving up 10 runs to a normal team) and eight runs in 5.1 innings of pitching in Coors Field. The extra rest might do him good, but we can hope that trend continues tonight.