Baseball Is Full of Surprises

If you’ve read this space enough or listened to the podcasts, you know that I’m not necessarily on the Dakota Hudson bandwagon.  He tends to work slow, his control is iffy, and he doesn’t have much of a strikeout ability for when times get tough.  There’s no doubt he can be valuable, especially with the defense behind him, but I’ve never really been enamored.  So when he allowed a run on almost 30 pitches in the first inning yesterday, I was thinking, “Oh boy.  Here we go.”  Especially since the bullpen behind him was fairly depleted.

And it’s true, there we went.  Just in a totally different direction than I expected.

After throwing 28 pitches in the first, Hudson threw 76 over the next six innings, allowing just two hits and no walks in that span.  The Cardinals said they were using the new PitchCom technology in part to get people like Hudson to work faster and in a better rhythm.  If what we saw yesterday is a result of that, technology has once again improved our lives.  On the back of Adam Wainwright‘s seven innings and in front of this upcoming five games in four days set with the Cubs, that sort of length was really needed and I’m very impressed Hudson gave it to the club.  That’s a Hero right there for sure.

Of course, he couldn’t do it all on his own.  Some days, that first inning run would have been enough to doom the Cardinals.  However, with the calendar flipping and it no longer being May, Nolan Arenado was free to put the cape back on.  His two-run homer in the sixth broke a 1-1 tie and he added on in the eighth with an RBI single.  Couple that with the two hits he had the night before (though at least one was more of a flare than a solid hit) and it seems very likely that Arenado is starting to heat up.

The question is, can he and Paul Goldschmidt coexist on hot streaks?  We’ve seen them basically alternate throughout their careers, but Goldy got himself another hit and two walks yesterday, continuing both his hitting streak and his on base streak.  Things could get pretty raucous if they both are swinging the bat well at the same time, especially if some others chime in as well.  Yesterday, that was Juan Yepez, who drove in the first run with a sacrifice fly and doubled in the final run off of old friend Nabil Crismatt.

All of those runs were needed because Kodi Whitley still isn’t right.

His first nine appearances this season, he gave up one run and five hits in 8.2 innings.  His ERA was 1.04, his FIP was 1.99, and his xFIP was 3.13.  Everything looked in line with the Whitley we saw at the end of last year when he didn’t allow a run after his late August callup.  Since then, things have been rough.  It’s just four MLB outings, because he spent time in Memphis in the middle of this, but over those appearances he’s pitched 3.1 innings, allowed six hits and seven walks, and his ERA/FIP/xFIP is 18.90/15.74/10.06.  He’s allowed two homers over that small span and he’s given up a run in every one of them.  His time in Memphis was somewhat better, but even in those five innings he gave up two runs, including a homer, though he didn’t walk anyone.

It’s pretty rare to see someone just fall completely off the table like that, especially in the middle of a season.  We talked a few weeks ago how the pitches seemed to be up and while yesterday’s wasn’t as dramatic, it’s still seems to be the case.  Personally, though there’s been no indication that he’s dealing with any pain, I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t wind up on the injured list at some point.  A physical reason would seem to be the easiest explanation for all this.

As for others yesterday, Brendan Donovan led off to give Tommy Edman a break and got two hits, continuing his remarkable start to a career.  Corey Dickerson got a hit, which is pretty noteworthy given how his season has gone (and the strong likelihood that he’ll be designated for assignment once either Tyler O’Neill or Dylan Carlson returns).  Andrew Knizner has started struggling some with the bat, which might be because he’s playing less than he did in April, might be because he needs to make some adjustments.  Hard to know, really.

Cards head to Wrigley for the first time this season to face a Cubs team that is in fourth place and eight games behind the Cards.  They still are probably better than the Reds and Pirates both, though, and it should be an interesting series!

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