I wasn’t sure what kind of mood I’d be in as I keyed this post given the nature of last night’s game. Lots of ups and downs. Thankfully the ups prevailed and the Cardinals were able to grab another come from behind win in the late innings. Not even double switching one of the hottest hitters on the team with a third of the game left could keep them from winning.
A little bit of a dip in the road last night for Michael Wacha. He didn’t seem to have command of much of anything and was operating essentially with two pitches (fastball and change). He hasn’t showcased his curveball much at all and I’m not sure if the team is trying to just refine his FB/Change combo before really integrating the curve or what the thinking is. I think it’s safe to say he has some work ahead of him before he steps into the rotation full time.
Let’s talk about some more specific stuff like what Kolten Wong brings to the Cardinals and how f*cking awesome Matt Carpenter is at playing baseball. Starting with Wong, how nice is it to see some legitimate speed on the bases? I’m not big on stolen bases and certainly not forcing the issue by putting guys in motion but I do think there’s a time and place for it. When Wong gets on base it poses an immediate problem for opposing defenses. They have to be conscious of what he’s doing when he’s on base and that’s a good thing. His two out infield hit was the spark the Cardinals needed last night and if I was a betting man I’d put a wager on him having a few more of those. Looking forward to watching him play down the stretch.
Throughout this season I’ve kept thinking that Matt Carpenter’s hitting approach reminded me of something. It finally hit me the other day that it was the Scott Hatteberg chapter of Moneyball. I’m guessing most of you have read it but to refresh the best skill Hatteberg brought to the A’s was his ability to work pitch counts and get on base. In 2003 he only batted .253 but his OBP was .342 and he ranked 13th in the AL in pitches seen per plate appearance right at 4 pitches per. For a guy who no one but the A’s wanted he brought the ability to work pitchers and get on base without being much over an average hitter. The book described Hatteberg’s approach and how he would create his own zone at the plate. When the AB started he would only swing at a pitch that was in a zone where he could drive the ball. He would then adjust it as needed with the ultimate goal of reaching base. Matt Carpenter has this exact same ability to get on base along with being a very good hitter and also an above average fielder. Carpenter is currently 5th in the NL in pitches per plate appearance at 4.10. Going into the season I didn’t think anyone in the Central would even remotely challenge Shin-Soo Choo for best leadoff hitter but Matt Carpenter has certainly built a strong case. For comparison sake Choo is 1st in the NL in pitches per plate appearance at 4.19 and is 2nd in the NL with a .415 OBP behind his teammate Joey Votto. Carpenter is 8th in the NL with a .383 OBP which is still fantastic. Choo is a free agent next season (Boras client) and the smart teams will be putting some money forward for his services while Carpenter is not a free agent until 2018. It’s going to be awesome watching him play baseball in the coming years.
That’s all I have for today. Lance Lynn vs. former Cardinal Kyle Lohse tonight. More so than usual I feel good about Lynn tonight. Hopefully the Cardinals can get to Lohse early and Lynn can give the team some much needed innings and give that tired bullpen a rest. Later.