I said around the trade deadline, in the argument for moving Lance Lynn, that I believed you could get at least 80% of what Lynn gave you from folks like Luke Weaver. At least for one night, Weaver proved I had an inkling of what I was talking about.
After seeing Lynn pitch tolerably but not outstanding against the Padres on Tuesday night (and then seeing the bullpen implode), watching Weaver just dominate San Diego was a beautiful thing. Seven scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts? Yes please. Aaron Faubel, in response to my question on Twitter, pointed out that the last non-Carlos Martinez pitcher to record an out in the seventh was….Luke Weaver, back on August 2, when he started the seventh and got one out but allowed his second run. As we said yesterday, it’s been ages since Lynn went into the sixth and he was the only one you’d even think could have done it. I don’t expect to see Weaver go out there next time against the Brewers and do the same thing, but it’s a nice oasis in the midst of this mediocre at best pitching run.
We’ll give the Hero to Weaver, obviously, but Kolten Wong laid his claim to it as well. Batting leadoff due to Matt Carpenter being home sick, Wong tallied three hits, including a double, and stole two bases in the eighth inning that led to another run. We all know that Wong wants to be a leadoff guy and his overall game has improved this year. Part of his OBP has to come from hitting farther down in the order, but if he can regularly hit .300 and OBP almost .400, he should get a few more looks there. I know, Carpenter apparently can only hit in that spot, but Wong feels more like the guy you’d want there if he could keep it up. Now, that’s an if I’ll freely admit. He’s having a great season and I don’t think this is at all a stretch for Wong, but I’ll admit I was surprised at that OBP. He’s within seven walks of his career high and right now has played 66 fewer games than the year he reached that, so maybe this regular work has helped Wong improve his game. Whatever the reason, he’s having an outstanding season that’s quietly going under the radar.
As much as I felt the return of Stephen Piscotty has been a good thing so far, it’s probably going to have its ups and downs and he’s the Goat from last night, going 0-3 and leaving five men on base. He did draw a walk and, if FoxTrax and our eyes are any indication, took ball 4 for strike 3 in another AB. I think he’s still seeing the ball better than he was, but the results won’t be there every night.
Piscotty might have been saved the Goat tag had Mike Matheny not been very proactive with his bullpen. After Weaver left the game with a 5-0 lead, Matheny turned to Seung-hwan Oh, which was reasonable. Five runs is not a huge lead, but it’s pretty solid in the eighth inning. If you can’t feel comfortable using Oh there, you may never get to use him. Which meant, of course, that Oh gave up a single and a triple to the first two men he faced.
Which is a big sigh. Both of those guys were righties, so you can’t even use the strategy of having him avoid left-handers for maximum results. His overall numbers are still miles better against right-handers and if you have to throw him, that’s who you want him to face, but all the damage done against him in Pittsburgh was by righties as well. With Trevor Rosenthal officially going down for the rest of the year with Tommy John surgery, that closer role is wide open. Many are afraid that Matheny would just automatically go back to Oh, but his usage of Oh begs to differ, especially here. With a four run lead still, Matheny yanked Oh quickly and turned it over to Patron Pitcher of the Blog Tyler Lyons, who got a pop out and two strikeouts to strand the runner on third. Lyons is much more likely to get ninth inning work than Oh, I believe, but it feels like it may just be a mix-and-match situation the rest of the year.
Some are big on John Brebbia taking the ninth and he did in this one, allowing a home run but otherwise retiring the side. I look at Brebbia’s FIP of almost 4.00 and I wonder if the league isn’t going to catch up to him sometime soon. His ERA for August is 4.09 and he was scored on in four of his 11 outings. Not saying that he’s not been great or he might not be worth trying, but I don’t feel he’s really a solution for that problem, at least not on a regular basis.
As noted, Rosenthal is out for the year and most, if not practically all, of 2018. It’s going to be interesting to see what the Cardinals do with Rosenthal this offseason. As an arbitration-eligible guy, they could just non-tender him, given he’d be a free agent anyway at the end of 2018. I think most of the relievers that have had surgery like this (Jason Motte, Zach Duke, etc.) have already been under contract for the next season and there was no drawback financially to keeping them on the roster in case they returned. Rosenthal’s in a different position. In theory they could sign him to a multi-year deal and let him rehab on their watch, but I don’t know that the organization was high enough on him to do that even if he wasn’t injured. They’ve had chances to lock up Rosie and they’ve never done it. You’d think that maybe John Mozeliak was burned on so many of his extensions, etc. being wasted by injury that he wasn’t big on multi-year reliever deals, but then they went out and got Brett Cecil. (Which may only enforce hesitation to lock up a reliever.)
No matter what they do with Rosenthal, they’ll need someone to close games next year. That guy doesn’t seem to be in the organization right now, unless you consider Alex Reyes in the role. I don’t know if they would, given stress and the need to be available multiple days in a row, but it would definitely limit his innings post-Tommy John and his dominating fastball is the kind of thing that a closer needs. I imagine we’ll be talking some more about this possibility on both shows this weekend, but it’s an interesting idea to consider.
Cubs won, of course, so the Cardinals stay 4.5 back. The Race for 82 gets a little easier as the Cards just need to go 18-18 over their final games to make that level. They need to take the series and they’ll turn to Carlos Martinez to do it, which means that the odds are pretty good. Martinez goes up against Luis Perdomo, the player–check that, ONE of the players–the Padres took from the Cardinals via the Rule 5 draft. If the Padres wanted to really troll the Redbirds, they’d put Allen Cordoba in the starting lineup as well. Perdomo has a roughly five ERA, so I’m not sure that being in the big leagues has helped him that much, but he has had his moments. He consistently gives the Padres six innings, though, and last time had a quality start against the Nationals. It feels like a game the Cardinals, especially with their rejuvenated offense, should win. If they don’t, well, it’s 2017–nothing surprises us anymore!