I haven’t had the chance to watch many of the games between my last post and this one. I’ve not been on Twitter as much so I don’t know what the big controversies are that I should be weighing in on. (Well, I know of one.) I’ve been a little adrift and unattached to the team.
Sounds like a great time to write a catch-up post! (And it’ll double as research since I’m a guest on the Talking About Birds podcast this evening.) Trust me, you probably won’t be able to tell that I haven’t seen anything, since it going to be just as bad as always.
Before we get into the games, though, let’s talk a little bit about what I gather is a bit of a hot topic, the fact that Jack Flaherty has gone back on the injured list and who might be to blame for it. There’s no doubt that some of John Mozeliak’s public comments have been easily interpreted as shifting much of the blame to Flaherty for coming back earlier than planned from his rehab stint. As you know, Flaherty made only two rehab starts in the minors before saying that he needed to be in a major league setting to get the intensity needed. Given how he’d pretty well dominated the minors, that made sense. There was no reason to stretch him out to 90 pitches or something in the minor leagues if it still wasn’t going to completely get him ready for the big leagues.
Given all the information, it sounds to me that this “dead arm” period likely would have happened no matter how prepared he was in the minor leagues. When every pitch starts to matter, the body is going to react differently. Perhaps he could have had a little more strength in the arm and he would have avoided this, but I think it’s just as likely the Cards would have gone without him for another couple of weeks, he’d have come up, and we’d have run into this situation sooner or later. At least here it’s not right before the trade deadline, huh?
I don’t blame Flaherty for feeling he needed to be in the big leagues to properly rehab and it’s something we talked about last year, letting him build up strength in the bigs and either piggy-backing or making sure long relievers were prepared for him to go short. I can’t fault him for feeling that it was best for him to have the stress of real competition rather than pitching with no pressure. It didn’t work out but it was worth a try.
As for the games….
Thursday (6-4 loss at Milwaukee)
Hero: Paul Goldschmidt. A double in the first that turned into a little-league home run, quickly putting the Cards up 2-0. Also walked a couple of times.
Goat: Dakota Hudson. Perhaps all our thinking about PitchCom and lectures and the like were a little premature. Hudson unraveled in the fourth, mainly due to Tyrone Taylor again homering against the Cards, and didn’t finish the fifth. He walked three and gave up seven hits which is much less than ideal.
Notes: Nice day for Lars Nootbaar, with two hits including a home run….Drew VerHagen set ’em up (two walks and a single) but Nick Wittgren did a fair job of getting out of that bases-loaded, nobody out jam, only allowing a sacrifice fly….two hits for both Nolan Gorman and Nolan Arenado.
Friday (3-0 loss vs. Chicago)
Hero: Andre Pallante. It’s not the best line, three runs in six innings, but it should have been enough for the Cardinals to take that game. He did walk three and strike out only two, which isn’t great. But there also weren’t a lot of other options.
Goat: Nolan Gorman. 0-4 with a strikeout and three left on.
Notes: Kyle Hendricks could be 82 and come out of retirement to shut out the Cardinals. He had an ERA almost 5 and a half going into this one, but it was the same old Hendricks song, one that most of us are tired of hearing….Harrison Bader, who wound up going on the IL after this series, had the only extra base hit, because he loves hitting against the Cubs….Hendricks is 13-3 with a 2.69 ERA in 25 career starts against the Cardinals. I hope the Cubs trade him to the Mariners and we never have to see him again.
Saturday (5-3 win vs. Chicago)
Hero: Nolan Arenado. Three hits, two runs scored.
Goat: Giovanny Gallegos. Gallegos has a much higher fly ball rate than he’s had over the past few years and that means you are going to get hurt at times. This time it was a two-run homer by Rafael Ortega that tied the game up in the top of the eighth.
Notes: Kudos to Ivan Herrera who got his first major league RBI with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth to give the Cards the lead they would not relinquish….two hits for Paul Goldschmidt….Ryan Helsley walked two in his inning and two thirds to close out the game, but he only allowed one hit and struck out to in that span….two RBI for Brendan Donovan, which isn’t surprising given he was hitting right behind Goldschmidt and Arenado.
Sunday (6-5 loss vs. Chicago)
Hero: Brendan Donovan. Two hits (a triple and a homer) as well as a walk. The two hits came in his first two at bats, so it’s unfortunate he couldn’t have gotten another hit or so later on.
Goat: Nick Wittgren. Granted, he got pressed into service early because Jack Flaherty left with his injury, and he did pitch a scoreless third. But still, four straight hits to open the fourth with a five run lead? It’s got to be better than that.
Notes: I didn’t read the thinking of Marmol to bring in Wittgren there instead of Johan Oviedo (who tried to clean up that mess, only to let all those runners plus one of his own score) or Zack Thompson (who pitched the end of the game) or Jake Woodford, who had been called up when Genesis Cabrera hit the injured list. With the latter two, you could expect at least three innings, which would cover a lot of the deficit Flaherty left behind. At best Wittgren is a two inning guy and that’s not happened but a couple of times (three times, actually, twice against the Cubs and one was just the Friday game). Maybe you figure anything he gives up you have time to get back, though the bats shut down after Alec Mills left the game….two hits for Ivan Herrera, his first in the big leagues, so good for him….three homers in the same inning is a beautiful thing. Great to see Donovan, Paul Goldschmidt, and Juan Yepez spray balls all around the yard…..Thompson got burned by the zombie runner and I really look forward to that rule getting tossed next year.
Monday (9-0 win vs. Miami)
Hero: Paul Goldschmidt. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a consistent MVP campaign but this is it. Four hits, including a homer in the first and a double later on.
Goat: Nolan Arenado. 0-4, two strikeouts, three left on. The bottom of the lineup picked him up, though.
Notes: The 5-6-7 hitters (Nolan Gorman, Dylan Carlson, Juan Yepez) went 6-12 with six runs and six RBI. The RBI were mainly concentrated on Mr. Yepez, who had five of them to go along with two home runs….much better outing from Adam Wainwright in this one, going his normal seven innings, allowing no runs, and striking out nine in 100 pitches. It might well be that he just made a small adjustment, but I can’t help noticing that Ivan Herrera was behind the plate here instead of Andrew Knizner. In fact, Herrera got a run of three straight games (though Knizner will start tonight) and you wonder what the balance of power is there….Missouri native James Naile made his major league debut, throwing a scoreless eighth and allowing just one hit….Conner Capel also made his major league debut, coming in as a defensive replacement and not getting a chance to hit.
Tuesday (5-3 win vs. Miami)
Hero: Dylan Carlson. Two hits, including a tie-breaking double, and two RBI.
Goat: Juan Yepez. 0-3 and four left on.
Notes: A team effort in this one, as the Cards score four in the fifth with four different players getting RBI….two-hit days for Tommy Edman, Nolan Arenado, and Brendan Donovan….Albert Pujols singled late, allowing Conner Capel to come in as a pinch-runner. Glad to see Capel is starting at DH tonight so he’ll at least get a chance to hit….Dakota Hudson went five innings and got the win, but it took 86 pitches for him as he gave up seven hits and a walk along with three runs….kudos to Junior Fernandez, who went two scoreless innings with zeros across the board except for two strikeouts….Ryan Helsley struck out the side for his sixth save.