Perhaps we should just all reach a breaking point more often, because after two games against the Royals where the Cardinals could only muster one run in each game, they’ve now gotten a fresh supply of runs and are spending them like there’s no tomorrow. Ten against the Royals on Wednesday, seven last night against the Giants. We’re going to get spoiled if this keeps up but I’m perfectly willing to take that risk.
You know it’s probably a good night when the scoring starts on a Yadier Molina home run. I didn’t get to turn the game on until the bottom of the second and, seeing Yadi out there, started to mentally speculate about the usage of Andrew Knizner. Of course, then I looked it up and Kiz played the first three games of the month and has more starts at catcher in four weeks than most Yadi backups had in the entire first half of seasons, so I guess it wasn’t necessarily a fair thought. Much as if I had said it to his face, though, he immediately homers, then singles later in the game, raising his batting average 20 points with his 2-4 night. (I wonder if it was deliberate that they are honoring Buster Posey while the Cardinals are in town, given how Molina and Posey were intertwined in baseball conversations for so long.)
Yadi was the only one that homered and he was a strong contender for our Hero, but that title has to go to Tommy Edman. We continue to wonder about Edman’s sustainability, but in fairness to him we’ve wondered about that his whole career and he still keeps producing. Last night, again back in the leadoff spot as other options just haven’t quite clicked, he went 3-5 with a double and drove in three runs. I don’t know if or when he’ll slip back toward league average, but it’s nice to see while it lasts.
It was also nice to see Tyler O’Neill continue his resurgence. He did strike out three times, but when he wasn’t striking out he was doubling and then singling in two runs. The strikeouts will probably be there but his strikeout rate is currently lower than it was the last two seasons while his walk rate is higher than it has ever been. My very basic knowledge of the advance stats and such tells me that he’ll probably be back toward the TON we saw last year hopefully soon.
Another two hit night for Juan Yepez, who is doing his best to stay in the big leagues for an extended period of time. He drove in his first run in the seventh with a nice piece of opposite field hitting. You have to figure he’s feeling a lot more comfortable about his promotion and I gotta figure he’s going to be out there almost every day for a while in one form or fashion.
All this offense was nice and it made Miles Mikolas‘s job easier, but the way he was going he didn’t need a lot of it. He gave up a run in the fifth on a two-out base hit and then ran into some trouble in the sixth before Andre Pallente bailed him out. Overall, though, it was more of the Mikolas we’ve seen in 2022. A few more baserunners than normal–seven hits and three walks–but only the one run. Actually, when you look at it, this might have been the worst start Mikolas has had since his first one, but that just tells you more about how well he’s been going.
Gotta pick a Goat here and my choice is a familiar one. Only two starters didn’t get a hit. One was Nolan Arenado, who walked two times and unsurprisingly was someone the Giants really didn’t want to challenge. The other was Paul DeJong. 0-4 with a strikeout and three left on base. (EDIT: I overlooked Harrison Bader, who went 0-4 and left four on, so he very likely could have taken the title.) I think the at bat that stood out to me most came in the fifth. Molina and Dylan Carlson had reached on singles. Jose Alvarez then ran the count to 2-0 on him.
Now, the biggest problem with DeJong seems to be that not only can he not hit off-speed pitches (something that has been going on for a while) but the league has figured this out and so isn’t throwing him very many fastballs. You’ll see on the chart over here that he’s seeing almost as much breaking stuff as he is fastballs. This was a fastball situation but Alvarez didn’t feel like he had to throw one. He threw a changeup, DeJong barely tipped it back to him, and the runners advanced but there was one out. Edman made it a bit moot with an RBI single but it’s still telling that there’s hardly a time when anyone feels they need to throw him a fastball. (And, maybe because he doesn’t see as many, he’s not hitting the ones he does see, hitting .152 with an xBA of .177 against them.)
DeJong’s solid contact and barrel rates are way down and his under % (which I assume means when he gets under the ball, resulting in pop ups and the like) is at 43.5%, way more than he’s had in the past and one reason his launch angle is so high. If he could hit the ball a little more square, he’d probably show some life but looking at the numbers it feels like he’s adjusted for one problem only to cause another. If there’s any solace to be had, it’s all the big shortstops that were on the free agent market are struggling as bad or worse than he is, so at least this production didn’t come with a huge price tag.
Jordan Hicks on the mound tonight and we’ll see if he can get at least four innings, hopefully closer to five. Here’s hoping the bats stay alive to give him some cushion as well!