The Cardinals pitching hasn’t been quite as strong as it was last year, and there are more than a few reasons why. One thing I noticed was the middle innings were most troublesome for the team.
I started by looking at the ERA per inning:
The middle innings are pretty hard for the team, which makes a lot of sense. Think of it this way – you split the game into thirds.
Innings 1-3, a pitcher will be facing the lineup for the first time in a good start; most starts, the 3rd inning is where guys will start to cycle through a second time. In the first third of a game, the ERA is 3.63.
Innings 4-6, the pitcher will be through the lineup for the second to third times. Hitters are a little more familiar with what a pitchers is throwing; they are more likely to get hits after seeing more pitches. The Cardinals ERA jumps to 5.97 in the middle third of a game.
Innings 7-9 have pretty much been the bullpen this season, and they’ve generally been pretty good. You’ll get fresh arms that hitters haven’t seen as frequently. The final third of the game has the Cardinal ERA at 2.12.
How bad has it been for the middle innings? The Cardinals have had 4 games where the starter went into the 7th inning, and only 1 where the pitcher went past the 7th.
With a majority of the starters leaving the game in the 6th, that just happens to be the worst inning for the Cardinals; their ERA is 5.84. What’s worse is the bullpen; their ERA is 12.14 in the 6th.
Now these are small sample sizes, but it shows the trend of the issues with the Cardinals starters this season. It’s even moer worrisome when you compare it to 2015:
Outside of the first inning, the pitching was pretty consistent last season; it’s not the case so far this year. Part of this is the loss of John Lackey and Lance Lynn; the other part is the early ineffectiveness of Adam Wainwright (which I’m going to dig into soon).
Tomorrow, I’ll look at the offense each inning.