Good afternoon folks. It’s Sunday and another chance for the Cardinals to win a series and gain ground in the Central Division. After throwing the Brewers a bone and losing Friday night, the Cards came back last night and won in typical 2014 Redbird fashion. 5 runs, scored in only 2 innings, 4 hits, and the defense committing three errors. The pitchers seem to pour gasoline around the pitching mound but survived due to efficiency in high stakes activity.
In baseball, you are as good as your last pitch or at bat, except if you are Lance Lynn in 2014.
The husky emotional young man has carried the Cards rotation since the beginning of July. In his last 10 outings, Lynn is 5-2 and his earned run average has dropped from 3.13 to 2.80. Lynn is averaging 104 pitches a game and has compiled 176.1 innings so far in 29 starts. One of the things that has gone unnoticed with Lynn in his career is his durability. Starters like Jaime Garcia and Michael Wacha going down with injuries but Lynn has climbed the mound consistently for three seasons now. In 91 starts since the start of the 2012 season, Lynn is 48-25 with an ERA of 3.35. He has been a horse in his early days and in 2014, he took massive steps forward. His ERA is down, his wins are still up and his run support is lower than years past. Look at Saturday night. Lynn put a lot of Brewers on base. He walked 4 for the first time since July 18th, allowed 5 hits and only allowed one earned run. Lynn hasn’t allowed a stolen base to occur while on the mound. He holds the runners on like a pro and gives his catchers a chance. In the small areas, he has improved and the big areas as well. In a season carried by pitching, Lynn has been the consistent force for this staff. His critics will still come out after last night’s first inning where he allowed 2 runs(not earned due to poor defense) but they ran back inside their shell before he left the mound. Lynn is emotional and screams out there after a big pitch or inning, and that’s something I want in a player. He has shown an ability to harness the rage during the action until the inning is over. 2014 has been a nice growth spurt for Lance Lynn.
According to expert MLB.com Cardinals reporter Jenifer Langosch (@LangoschMLB), Matt Holliday is out of the lineup today and there is no clear cut reason. Call it older age, soreness or general break time. Mike Matheny has his daily sit down with the media soon so more will be known then. I figured it’s a rest for the big guy. He’s the veteran in that crowded outfield and his bat cooled off(down from superhuman production) the past couple games. The rest of the lineup is solid, especially the end of it. Oscar Taveras, Peter Bourjos and Kolten Wong. Power, speed, followed by power and speed. Nicely done Mike Matheny. Have a gruff fist pump in your office, sir!
How about Oscar? He rides the bench most of the week and comes off it Friday and gets an RBI single. He launches a 2 run difference making home run last night. He isn’t pouting or taking up more space in the dugout with his ego. He is staying low, waiting for his opportunities and letting his bat do the talking. His slash line since the Allen Craig trade is nothing to write home to mom about, but he didn’t lose the starting job because he was playing horribly. It’s a crowded field with tons of young bodies. Randal Grichuk has been a different player since his third callup. Tommy Pham arrives today with a unique blend of speed and defense. Bourjos is been hot since the beginning of August. Jay is easily the most valuable player in the second half. This is a crowded table and Oscar has to fight for at bats and that’s okay. He’s 22 years old and has a whole career ahead of him. On a lesser team, he would easily be starting 15 games in a row. Here, he has to be ready. So far in 2014, Taveras has been adept at being set to impress off the bench. That tells us all we need to know about his character, poise and integrity.
Peter Bourjos does well when he starts. In his last 5 starts, Bourjos has 2 hits in 3 of those games. He still can’t steal bases like he promised(He said 40 at the Winter Warmup) but he is an important part of this team. A skill set that can’t be taught.
Jon Jay has been white hot for over a month yet people still gripe about his power stats. When in the world was Jay expected to mash? He is hitting .317 and has an on base percentage of .387. After a rough month of July(.266 BA, .312 OBP) Jay has been white since. He has slugged .525 over the past two months and his batting average has been steady around .415. Jay drove in 15 runs in August and his OPS was .961 in August in 76 at bats.
Trevor Rosenthal still puts guys on base in his save opportunities but he has been sharper since the return of Yadi Molina. Talk about Molina having an effect on a guy and it’s Rosie. Molina is calling for more curveballs and changeups and Rosenthal is delivering. He has struck out 4 and walked 3 this past week but Saturday night, Rosenthal threw just 9 pitches to get his 43rd save. He has shown a better sense of control on the mound lately. His walks are more from being squeezed or throwing the curve too much in late counts and not from wild fastballs. He is four saves away from tying the single season record for the Cardinals. Rosenthal is having a strong season and getting sharper(not breaking down like previous closers) in September.
Folks, enjoy a beautiful day in the Lou and if you are outside the Lou, enjoy it anyway. NFL football starts today as well so get your mouthpiece in and keep the rosin bag close.
Thanks for reading this dose,