A few game day thoughts on the Cardinals before the first pitch in 15 minutes. The Cards have been Jekyll and Hyde in August. They have been up and down all season. Good baseball followed by bad baseball. Runs scored followed by a cold streak. They scored more runs(9 in the 8th) in a single frame than they had all week leading into Saturday’s games. There’s no way to plot a course on this team. With that being said, I rip into a few pregame notes.
1.) John Lackey likes his fastball and so do the Cubs. This will get interesting. He throws it 65 percent of the time and mixes in a slider along with a few changeups and the occasional curve. Hitters will be looking fastball on the veteran, so his deception and ability to spot the pitch will be key. Lackey has been solid for the Cards(4 solid starts, 1 bad one) so avoid the 4.50 ERA and 2-1 record. He deserves four wins for his efforts but hasn’t gotten run support and he ran into the Baltimore buzzsaw. He is facing a HR friendly lineup and must be careful. It’s Lackey’s cheddar against the Small Bears young lumber. Who wins?
2.)Daniel Descalso starting at first base isn’t complete lunacy but it shows how limited Mike Matheny is in his lineup making skills. Descalso has collected 5 hits this weeks, hits LHP well this year and hitting .361 for the month. The little scrappy bearded one isn’t doing terribly. Still, why not try Matt Holliday at first base against lefties and on days where Matt Adams needs a rest? As my fellow twitter cohorts Steve McNeil (@SMcNeil_87) and Corey Rudd (@CoreyRudd) suggested, Holliday is built to play first base. Everyone knows he is average at best in left field so why not slide him into first base as he gets older. Matt Adams is hitting .206 against LHP this year and doesn’t have to start everyday. Holliday’s body would take less of a beating at first base. He could hit there and allow young players like Randal Grichuk and eventually Tommy Pham and Stephen Piscotty to get reps in left field. Like a catcher moving to first base to save his body, Holliday could lengthen his career if he played more first base.
3.)The Cards haven’t taken advantage of the Milwaukee Brewers playing bad baseball. The Brew have lost 4 in a row and the Cards are still a game out of first place. I look at the two losses to the Phillies and the losses to the Cubs this weekend as signs that the Cards can’t seize the moment. As myself and others have noted, it’s getting late. When will the Cards truly take off?
4.)I don’t like the idea of a wildcard game playoff because what if that day the Cards bats don’t show up. The other team could start a rookie against the Cards just to throw a wrench in the mess and the Cards would fizzle out of the playoffs. It’s a nightmare. One game on one day where the Cards leave 10 on base and score 2. We have all seen Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn be unable to carry the lineup on their backs this season. This Cards team isn’t good enough to win a one game take all playoff.
5.)Final Notes. Holliday started in the minors at the age of 18 in 1998 and didn’t play in the majors for He played 244 games at third base early in his minor league career. Along with baseball reference and fangraphs, check out a baseball site I stumbled onto this morning. Baseball Cube. Full of sabermetrics, regular stats, and easy to detect information. All on one page. Check it out. Matheny would be wise to shuffle the lineup creatively. Move Matt Carpenter to first base and Peralta to third and put a Pete Kozma at shortstop. I don’t expect Matheny to do anything creatively in the last month to spark a lagging offense but words needed to be typed. It makes this writer feel better.
Get ready for the unexpected today folks. With this team, it’s as natural as the sun coming up in the morning or water flowing from a faucet. Descalso could collect two more hits and make no errors at first while the rest of the team doesn’t crap the bed and strand 13 baserunners. Lackey could be sneaky fast with his heater and keep the Cubs off balance. The Cards could win and be tied for first place going into Labor Day. Who knows? Which team shows up today? The Friday and Saturday zombie crew or the resurgent baseball bashing bunch from Saturday night? Baseball is a tricky, demanding and emotionally draining game. Prepare for anything.
Thanks for digesting and have a healthy finish to your holiday weekend.