We all hoped that things would be better when the outfielder got off the injured list. We expected power and timely hitting while hopefully improving the fortunes of the team on the field and getting them back to their winning ways. And that’s exactly what happened.
I said when Dickerson got hurt back in Chicago that he had great timing. O’Neill and Dylan Carlson were coming off the injured list soon and with his production being minimal there was a solid (if not good) chance that John Mozeliak might decide to cut his losses, especially with the promotions of Juan Yepez and Nolan Gorman taking up some of Dickerson’s already small playing time. The injury allowed him to stay employed and it may have given him a chance to figure some things out. Before last night, Dickerson was 0-6 in his return but he did have two walks. He only had six free passes in the 106 plate appearances before the injury.
Do I believe that Dickerson has turned things around and will be a valuable part of this team the rest of the way? I don’t know that I’d say that. With Tyler O’Neill hopefully back before Sunday, Dickerson’s time may be reduced and it will definitely decrease when Harrison Bader returns, whenever that might be. There’s a strong chance last night was just a flame shooting out of a dying fire before the embers cool. Still, I don’t know that I’d completely rule out Dickerson contributing. It’s just three games but it’s still more promising than what we’ve seen before.
Let’s hit a little bit of other news before the recap. The Cardinals activated T.J. McFarland yesterday from the COVID IL. There was no chance they were going to release McFarland without giving him another shot, so this wasn’t surprising. McFarland did well at Memphis with three scoreless innings and three strikeouts, but it was 1) Memphis and 2) three innings. We’ve seen McFarland have good innings in the bigs, only to come out next time and get blasted. Reports are his pitches looked better, etc. so there’s reason to believe it’s more than a small sample, but we’ll see.
Bringing McFarland back wasn’t the noteworthy thing. It was the other parts of the transaction. Jack Flaherty goes on the 60-day injured list. Oli Marmol said that given the fact they’d want him built up to be fully ready to start when he returns it wasn’t much of a change from their expectations, but he went on the IL June 27. That means he’s not coming off, at best, until the last week of August which is later than most of us expected. If he comes back right at the end of that, he’d probably get a maximum of seven starts the rest of the way, meaning he’d have 10 on the season. That’s not a guarantee though, especially with days off in September. If it takes longer than the 60 days, though, this is probably another lost season for Flaherty, which is really disappointing, and you have to figure there’s a non-zero chance the three starts he’s already made will be the only times we see him this year.
The Cards also demoted Zack Thompson to Memphis, ideally to stretch back out to starting length. Obviously we’ve seen very good stuff from Thompson and it’s tough to see him go back down, though I can understand why the Cardinals are looking to make sure they have starter depth as they go into a trade season that may or may not pan out for them. Marmol said earlier in the week it seemed unlikely they keep four lefties with McFarland’s return and Genesis Cabrera just got back (and wasn’t going anywhere regardless). I expected Patron Pitcher of the Blog Packy Naughton to take the hit, but he’s also had a lot of options this year. That five-option limit might have played a little bit of a role in this decision, though probably not much.
Albert Pujols made all sorts of news last night. He’s going to be in the Home Run Derby, which is interesting. It’s definitely a marketing ploy but we’re also seeing Pujols swinging better now than we’ve seen him swing in a while. I don’t expect he gets out of the first round but he’ll have a lot of fun doing it. Speaking of that better swing, he was inches away from a home run in his second consecutive game, settling for a double that moved him past Stan Musial for third all time in extra base hits. Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, and now Albert Pujols. It’s still hard to grasp that this guy we watched from the beginning is one of those all-time legends.
With Milwaukee not playing last night the Cards moved to two games behind with the win. It’s a tough next series with the Dodgers in town but hopefully the woes of last week are behind them!
Friday (2-0 loss)
Hero: Adam Wainwright. Wainwright went the distance on just 103 pitches, striking out three. If it wasn’t for the two solo homers by Alec Boem (and if his offense could have done anything), he’d have had a better fate.
Goat: Tommy Edman. 0-4, like so many others, but he left two men on base.
Notes: Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado both had two hits, with the other two coming from Nolan Gorman and Dylan Carlson. That’s 3-4-5-6 in the lineup, but they couldn’t put them together….The Phillies only had five hits, but with two of them leaving the yard, that’s getting bang for your buck….two hours 23 minutes. That’s what happens when you match up some real good pitchers. Wainwright is probably tired of seeing Zack Wheeler now!
Saturday (1-0 loss)
Hero: Dakota Hudson. A much better outing from Hudson, going six innings and allowing just two walks (and two hits). He only threw 84 pitches as well and seemed to have a different approach. We’ll see how long this lasts, as we’ve thought Hudson had made significant changes before only to have them unravel, but it was good to see.
Goat: Giovanny Gallegos. Once he allowed a leadoff double, you knew it was going to be hard for him to avoid giving up the run. It feels like Gallegos has been struggling–and this was the second straight game that he allowed a run–but since the beginning of June he’s got a 2.51 ERA and people are hitting .180 off of him. He may not be automatic but he’s fine.
Notes: When Lars Nootbaar and Andrew Knizner have your only hits, you know it’s a rough day….tough one for Nolan Gorman, who went 0-4 and left three runners on base in his unorthodox position as a leadoff hitter….really surprising that Oli Marmol only used Jordan Hicks for one out. I assume there was some usage plan there given he’d thrown two innings on Thursday but it was unexpected.
Sunday (4-3 win)
Hero: Albert Pujols. A home run when I was starting to wonder if we’d ever see another from him plus two other hits. It was Dylan Carlson running for him that scored the winning run. Sometimes you get flashes of the past.
Goat: Juan Yepez. 0-4 with three left on base.
Notes: Lots of grief around Austin Romine–some deserved, of course, but I think folks are not realizing the level of “success” he was replacing–but he had a hard single that started the tying rally….Andre Pallante didn’t have a great game but it wasn’t terrible. Three runs in 5.2 innings is playable, though nine hits in that span meant that he was always playing with fire. I like Pallante but it wouldn’t be a bad thing if the Cards got a starter and he went back to that long relief role for a while….Jordan Hicks with the win appearing two days in a row. Watching his usage is going to be fascinating….good work out of Johan Oviedo, throwing 1.1 scoreless to keep the game where it was.
Monday (6-1 win)
Hero: Corey Dickerson. A single that tied the game at one in the fifth, then he scored the go ahead run plus added a two-run homer later on. Have a day, Corey!
Goat: Tommy Edman. 0-4 in the leadoff spot. His OPS+ which was around 130 earlier in the year has tailed off to right at 100, meaning he’s an average bat. Which is fine, given his defense, but I don’t know how many more times he’ll hit leadoff if this keeps up.
Notes: Three hits for Dylan Carlson, who seems to have gotten over the issue that scratched him from Sunday’s game….a homer for Lars Nootbaar, who really needed some good results….Miles Mikolas continued to make his case for making the All-Star Game if someone drops out, allowing just one run in 7.1 innings while striking out five. Finally he got some run support when going up against another elite pitcher.