A Hypothetical Game…

Lets say, just for a moment, that the Cardinals collapsed, fell out of first, but recovered enough to make the Wild Card Game. (Yes, I know it won’t happen. Humor me here.)

That leads to the question, which is the focus of this post: Who would start that game?

Do you go with the guy leading the team in wins in Michael Wacha? The guy with the best ERA among the four starters on our team who have more than 20 starts in Carlos Martinez? The playoff vet who is having a solid season of his own in John Lackey? the resurgent returnee was has a 1.57 ERA in Jaime Garcia? You could even make a case for Lance Lynn.

I realize opponent and where it’s played matter, but that isn’t what this question is about. The question is about trust. Which of these guys do you trust the most to pitch a game with the season on the line?

I’m a big Carlos Martinez fan, but given his intensity and the intensity of the WC game, the combination might be too much for him, right now anyways.

Lynn is good, but he’s having the “worst” season of the starters, so he’s out.

In my mind it comes down to the three left: Wacha, Garcia and Lackey. I don’t think you can go wrong with any of them.

Wacha has the most talent of the three, and the highest upside. He has roughly the same postseason experience, innings wise, as Garcia, So he’s a solid choice.

Garcia, however, is on fire right now, with only one earned run is his last three starts, and if he keeps that up, he might be a good candidate. He has been injure this year, as he seems to be every year, but right now he is healthy and pitching well.

Then there is Lackey, who is having a good season and had the most post-season innings pitched of any active Cardinal starter by far at 117. He is battle tested and wouldn’t give into the pressure the game would create.

If I had to choose, and remember there is no wrong answer here, I’d choose the pitcher who is the hottest going into the game. Right now that’s Jaime Garcia. I haven’t been the biggest Garcia fan in the past, but I can’t ignore what he’s doing this year. Things may change by the end of the season, but right now, Garcia is my choice.


As always, thanks for reading.


  • Buddhasillegitimatechild38 August 18, 2015, 2:51 pm

    ok, for one, thank goodness for putting quotes around worst, but you still said it and wrote Lynn off like he is our worst starter, even after the disaster that happened last time out he’s our leader in FIP and k%. He’s our best pitcher.

    That said, all of the pitchers save our actual worst pitcher, Lackey (who has eaten innings like a madman and still is pretty good, seriously the pitching this year has been fantastic WITHOUT Waiwright, all of those years when people talked about the pitching coming through the Cardinals system, well, here it is on full display, good pitchers buried by constant DL, a great young trio of starters, a good young pitcher that along with a broken OF can be traded for a good mid-rotation vet at the ML minimum, a great young batch of relievers, decent 6th/7th starters to call on when the normal 6th starter/future mid rotation starter has an aging shoulder all came together for this) are pretty darn close.

    Pitching wins are gross quasi descriptive arbitrary crap that is sad to still be a part of baseball culture

    ERA is important and favors Jaime, then Martinez on down but all of our starters have a very good under 3 ERA and that’s our most cursory, noisy form of decent analysis

    FIP favors Lynn though all are between 3 and 4 and Lynn, Wacha and Jaime are all within .7 of each other for our top 3 (3.10, 3.17 and 3.17 respectively)

    xFIP is more valuable in smaller samples in less in larger ones but is better at predicting future value. It favors Jaimeby a decent margin, then Carlos Martinez, then Wacha and Lynn are as close as Jaime and Wacha in FIP

    SIERA which accounts for batted ball types favors Jaime by a decent margin the Carlos , Lynn Wacha all closely clumped in that order

    This makes Jaime the most favorable across measures with Lynn favored by the likely more accurate measure just ahead of Jaime and Wacha.

    Oddly this is a game when you should be pulling your starter at the first sign of trouble, any elimination game should be, so picking the most efficient seems counter-intuitive but I would pick Jaime over Lynn because of his efficiency, it would let me completely make my decision to pull him based on performance and opportunity at the plate as it should be based in such a game. I doubt I manage in a way that any one’s pitch count goes over 60 but if the offense patterns and the pitcher succeeds in a way that lets me go past that I will be more level headed in both a data driven decision and a feel of the game decision that way all while putting maybe my best and seemingly at least one of my best 2 pitchers by a close margin with number 1 out there

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