Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Little Over Halfway Through The Season Post

I should have done this a couple of days ago, but I was a little swamped. Anyway, the Cardinals are still in first place in the NL Central, though after being swept in a doubleheader by the Cubs yesterday, their lead is down to 4.5 games on Pittsburgh. They still have a record of 54-30, and their Pythagorean matches that, which is the part that surprises me. Wainwright is still out, Lynn missed a couple of starts, Jaime Garcia came in and pitched well, like he usually does, then got hurt, which he also usually does. Except he only pulled a groin muscle instead of tearing up his shoulder. The coaching staff needs to tell their pitchers to stretch more on days off.

The rotation's held up so far, though. Brief DL stint aside, Lynn's pitching very well, with a K/BB ratio over 3. Wacha and Carlos Martinez have pitched almost as well, though their FIPs suggest they're getting a little more help from good fortune than Lynn. Martinez is walking close to 4 batters per 9 innings, though his K rate is equal to Lynn's, at 9.5/9 innings. Tyler Lyons is the weak point, continuing to not have success at the major league level. 5 HRs in less than 30 innings will do that to you.

I do worry about the bullpen's load. The Cards' pitching staff has one complete game (thrown by Lackey, who is doing much better than he did last year for the Cardinals). Rosenthal and Siegrist are both having great years -they've allowed a combined 9 runs in 77.3, with a 92/25 K/BB ratio - but both are on pace for close to 80 innings. Maness (only 2 unintentional walks in 33 innings!) and Carlos Villanueva are both on pace for around 65 innings, Belisle was headed for 60 before he went on the DL, Jordan Walden has missed most of the season (he's still at 10 innings). I have to give Matheny some credit, because he seems to be willing to hand the 9th innings over to people other than Rosenthal sometimes. Not so much in save opportunities - Trevor has 24 of the 31 saves - but that's true of most managers. He has let almost every reliever finish at least one game, even back of the bullpen guys like Marcus Hatley and Sam Tuivailala. He really seems to like Villanueva for that role, since he's second to Rosenthal in games finished. Mr. Villaneuva's turned out to be a good signing. I'm honestly surprised a guy with his track record of versatility didn't garner more interest this off-season. Well, this year will hopefully help on that score.

The offense has done OK. They're middle of the pack in runs, 12th in HRs and SBs, 10th in triples. They're once again 1st in doubles, they seem to do that a lot these last few years, 4th in OBP, but only 8th in SLG. Still an improvement over last year. It's not a bad showing, considering Holliday's missed about 30 games and counting, and Adams closer to 40 (and not likely to return any time soon). Jay's had recurring wrist problems (which likely have something to do with his .576 OPS), and has been limited to the point Bourjos has actually passed him for the lead in innings played in center. Bourjos is having about the sort of offensive season I'd expect. His OBP isn't great (though better than I'd expect for having a .248 batting average), but his OPS+ is 97 because his has a decent slugging, thanks to legging out some extra-base hits (7 doubles and 3 triples to go with 2 HRs). Not doing so well stealing, though, not sure what happened there.

Molina's OPS has been gradually moving up, though his power has regressed to his 2007-2010 range. Mark Reynolds' number have slipped as he's assumed a greater role in Adams' absence, which I can't say is a surprise. He was signed as a bench guy, asking him to be your everyday first baseman is pushing it, but the other option is Xavier Scruggs, which is probably not going to do any better. Kolten Wong's posting a batting average and OBP more in-line with what I expected last year, but he's retained the power (his ISO is 161), which I didn't expect. Matt Carpenter's cooled off significantly after his hot start. I didn't expect him to his 30+ homers, but I'm a little concerned how fast his numbers are falling. I'd swear his OPS+ has dropped 10 points just since Monday. Jason Heyward's starting to come on after a slow start. He's up to 9 HRs, which ties him for second with Wong behind Jhonny Peralta, who's having another pretty good year for St. Louis. They frontloaded the contract they signed him to, and so far, it looks as though it's going to work out. His ISO is down a bit from last year's, but his average is up about 30 points, which helps compensate a bit.

I can't pass without mentioning Randal Grichuk. He's been pretty valuable as a starter in Holliday's absence. His OBP is miserable - .298 - which is no surprise, and he's struck out 57 times in only 181 plate appearance, also no surprise. But his slugging is over .500, he has 5 triples to go with 7 HRs, his defense is generally well-regarded. He's pretty much what I thought he was, but he's doing about the best I could have hoped within that. I still think my dad is way too high on him, and not high enough on Bourjos, but that's just one of those things we disagree on.