The Cardinals didn’t even make the postseason this year. This is something that us Cardinals fans are not normally accustomed to. But what’s done is done and now comes the time where we watch other teams competing for the World Series title.
So, now there are two things that I am rooting for in the postseason. The first is the Minnesota Twins. I lived in Minneapolis for four years and they became my favorite AL team. If the Cardinals aren’t in it, I’d love to see the Twins go all the way. The problem is that the Twins are playing the Yankees. Now, I like the Yankees a lot, but I like the Twins more. But the Twins haven’t had great success against the Yanks in the postseason. And in fact, now they are down 0-2 in the ALDS once again.
The other thing I like to root for in the postseason are interesting series. A best of five or a best of seven is the best when it goes down to the wire, to the last game. Or even to the last inning in the last game. Think about it. When a little kid throws a baseball to himself in the back yard, what’s always the scenario? “Game 7 of the World Series, bottom of the 9th. Bases loaded, down by 3, full count.” A team winning in five or seven games is far more interesting than seeing a sweep. Unfortunately, right now, all of the games are shaping up to be sweeps. Hopefully, that will change and we will have some more interesting baseball to watch.
In other news, how about Roy Halladay? If Adam Wainwright had pitched this season last year, he would have been the Cy Young easy. But this year, Halladay has put it away. He has been a machine on the mound all year including his perfecto. And now in the postseason, he pitches a no-hitter? For only the second time in history? Incredible. Also makes you wonder what the Cardinals would have done against him.
Let’s go Twins,
Sometimes it’s hard to believe a team with so mach talent on paper has lost so much, but sometimes a scrappier team just seems to have what it takes. We saw it when the ’04 Redbirds were shockingly swept while the ’06 version went the distance. Baseball’s funny that way. Funny or makes you want to beat your head against the wall. Either way.
But with the Reds only 3 games away from celebrating, the Cardinals still have a lot of talent. And that is seen in their accomplishment of many different personal milestones and pursuit of personal achievements.
Albert has hit 40 homers again, Holliday has hit 100 RBIs and now today, Wainwright has reached his 20th win. Honestly, it should have come before now, but either way, he’s now reached that mark for the first time in his career. He continues to make this Cy Young Race neck and neck. Halladay and Wainwright are tied atop the league in both wins and strikeouts. Wainwright leads Halladay in ERA by a smidge. The difference is that barring unforseen circustmances, Halladay should get two more starts, while Wainwright is only guaranteed one. However, it’s not inconceivable that he could go on one less day of rest and get two more starts in. So this race is far from over, as we see how it ends up playing out.
The last couple of days have been fun, watching the Memphis youngsters come up and give the club a boost. Add into that Wainwright’s 20th win and it’s about as much fun as you’re going to have when your team is 7 games out of 1st place.
You know how I feel? I feel like you do when you see someone knock a glass of grape juice off of a table and it’s going to hit the carpet and you can see it
but you know that no matter what you do, you won’t be able to react in time to do anything about it. You know that feeling? Well, that’s how the Cardinals make me feel right now. As they slowly crawl their way to mathematical elimination by the Reds, that is exactly how I feel. Like I can see it happening, but I can’t do one thing about it. Anybody else know what I’m talking about? No? Just me? Ok, then.
Oh and for the record, how in the world have 28% people voted for Ubaldo Jimenez for the NL Cy Young on mlb.com’s poll. Are you kidding me? I mean….seriously, are you kidding me? You want to vote for Halladay, fine. I can respect that. But Jimenez? 19 game winner. Great. Decent ERA and decent strikeouts. But that’s it. Decent. Not great. At least not as great as the other two horses in this race. This is 100% a toss-up between Halladay and Wainwright and it’s going to come down until probably the last day of the season, depending how many more times LaRussa struts Wainwright out to the mound.
So if you voted for Jimenez, please tell me why, ’cause I know I can’t figure it out.
19 wins doesn’t make you Cy Young,
The Reds lose 3 of 4 to Houston to drop them to 7-11 in the month of September. And the Cardinals continue to befuddle us all by taking 3 of 4 from the Padres. Oh, Cardinals, had you not lost to the Astros. And the Pirates. And the Nationals. And the Brewers. And the Cubs. TWICE. It might be a different situation right now.
As it stands, we can only look to the future. What’s done is done. The Cardinals are 6 games back from the Reds, but actually only 5 back in the loss column. Not that this makes me feel a ton better. All it means is that at least two of our games, the Reds can’t do anything about. But we need their help for the other 5 games. Or rather, the help of the Brewers, the Padres and the Astros.
I’m so glad that the Reds are playing the Astros again this year because once again, the ‘Stros are smoking hot, playing ridiculous 2nd half baseball. If they ever get their act together in April and May, look out….that team will be a contender.
Wainwright looked sharp on the mound today, which he attributes to refocusing himself. Hopefully, that’s something he will strive to do all the time because he only gave up 1 run in 8 innings, tying a career best of 19 wins on the season. 20 just eluded him last year, but I think he’s up for the challenge this year. I think he has to finish ahead of Halladay in wins and ERA to have a chance at the Cy Young because Halladay will probably finish ahead of him in Ks, plus probably have more innings, complete games and shutouts.
Holliday continues his hot September, while driving in his 99th run of the year. Having two guys at the century mark should make for a decent team, but it shows you how important support is. Colby Rasmus is providing that now, but for a while there was nobody.
At least the season is getting exciting to watch again. But we have to keep winning and hope that the Reds opponents are up for the role of playing spoiler. Let’s go, Brew Crew….we really need you now!
As I mentioned in my previous post, I have given up hope on the season and have begun to look at the Cardinals chances in the big 3 individual awards. I already covered MVP and now will look at Cy Young.
The contender here for the Redbirds is Adam Wainwright. Many feel he was robbed in 2009 from the award and he definitely is putting up Cy Young caliber numbers this year. The problem is that the NL is STACKED with pitching in a year that many have called, “The Year of the Pitcher.” This is a year that has been filled with no-no’s galore, perfect games, (that’s right, plural) and all kinds of crazy pitching feats.
I personally believe that the only real competition for Wainwright is Roy Halladay. But let’s go ahead and look at a few of the dark horses that could garner some 1st or 2nd place votes. They are: Tim Hudson, Mat Latos and Ubaldo Jimenez.
First, we will compare where they stand in the traditional triple crown pitching categories.
Triple Crown Pitching
Wainwright 2.50 ERA (4th), 18 wins (1st), 199 K (4th)
Halladay 2.44 ERA (3rd), 18 wins (1st), 201 K (2nd)
Hudson 2.62 ERA (5th), 15 wins (4th), 122 K (34th)
Latos 2.43 ERA (2nd), 14 wins (7th), 174 K (11th)
Jimenez 2.75 ERA (7th), 18 wins (1st), 186 K (6th)
Wainwright and Halladay are the only two pitchers in the top 5 of all of these categories, which will probably go a long way with voters. And for those who are still obsessed with wins (I am not one of them), if one of these current 18 game winners (Waino, Halladay and Jimenez) gets to 20 wins, that might appeal to some of the voters.
Then, there are other factors that we have to look at when discussing the best pitcher this year. There’s the often-debated WHIP stat.
Wainwright 1.05 WHIP (3rd)
Halladay 1.05 WHIP (3rd)
Hudson 1.13 WHIP (11th)
Latos 0.99 WHIP (1st)
Jimenez 1.15 WHIP (14th)
But I think more importantly are these 3 stats. Complete games, shutouts and innings pitched. A guy that can eat up a lot of innings, while maintaining a low ERA is invaluable to a club. And this is where the five guys stack up. I call these the ‘endurance and domination categories.’
Endurance and Domination
Wainwright 5 CG, 2 SHO, 216.1 IP (2nd)
Halladay 8 CG, 3 SHO, 228.2 IP (1st)
Hudson 1 CG, 0 SHO, 203.0 IP (5th)
Latos 1 CG, 1 SHO, 166.2 IP (35th)
Jimenez 4 CG, 2 SHO, 196.1 IP (9th)
As I said before, it could come down to which guy gets to 20 wins. It’s
up for grabs. Any of these guys could have already been there and
several of them will have a few more chances to hit that mark before the
season end. I don’t think 20 wins is the end-all, be-all, but Wainwright and Halladay are ridiculous close this year. Some voters might seek to right a wrong from last year by giving Wainwright the award this year, that he finished 3rd for last year. Other votes might look at Halladay’s career and say that Doc deserves the award. It can be hard to predict.
As it stands right now, I give Halladay the award by a smidge. Right now, Halladay edges out Wainwright in ERA and strikeouts (both by the slimmest of margins) and they are tied in wins. He has pitched more innings, throwing an incredible 8 complete games, 3 of them shutouts. Thought it shouldn’t be a factor, he has also thrown a perfect game this year. Don’t think that his perfecto won’t be on the minds of some voters, when comparing two guys who are literally a hair’s breadth apart.
But that’s if the season ended today. If Wainwright could string a couple of good starts together, he could inch ahead in the race. Here’s hoping for that.
Looking for Wainwright to finish strong,
First, a comment: I want to say a HUGE thank-you to all those of you who read my blog, especially
those who come back on a regular basis. I know from my stats there are a
lot more that read than comment, so I would invite you to leave your
two cents on any post. I respond to every comment and would love to
discuss the Cardinals with you. In any case, in my first month back to
blogging, I already made the top 50 at number 47 of all blogs on
MLBlogs. I would love to climb the standings each month, so come back
often and comment! K, on to your regularly scheduled post!
I’m a bandwagon football fan. While I will always say the Rams are my favorite team, I tend to only follow them closely when they’re doing well. And yes, that means I have only casually followed the Rams since they last were decent about 10 years ago.
It’s not like that with baseball. I am a Cardinal fan always. Good, bad or indifferent. That means I will be following my Redbirds to the bitter end. But that doesn’t always mean it’s easy. The scuffling ‘Birds have gone 5-13 since sweeping the Reds in early August. Never in a million years would I have dreamt that would be the case.
We have dropped series after series against awful and last-place teams, practically giving away the division title to the Reds. The wild card has been there for the taking, but it’s slowing slipping out of our grasp as well. But I still think that’s our best chance of post season play. Yes, it’s two teams to overtake instead of one, but right now, Cincinnati is playing high-caliber post-season baseball. And we are not.
It will be interesting to see how we do against them in the upcoming series. Brandon Phillips, maybe we need you to run your mouth again. That seemed to spark something in the Cardinals, the last time these two teams met up.
As the chance to be central champs gets further and further away, so does the bid for Albert and Adam to win MVP and Cy Young. Right now Pujols is neck and neck with Votto. That vote will probably come down to the end of the season. And if they are still dead even at that point, it will probably go to the guy whose team is playing in October. And if the season ended today, the Cy Young has to go to Halladay, no questions asked. Wainwright will have to pitch a few incredible games to once again take the lead in that race.
But honestly I don’t care about any of that. I care about getting to October. I care about playing in another World Series. I care about not seeing my team playing like a bunch of bums. This is their last off day for awhile, so I hope they take full advantage of figuring out what has been going horribly wrong.
Wanting to party like it’s 1982 (or 2006),
I didn’t get to see last night’s game against the Pirate and I am not sad about that at all. Losing a series to the worst team in baseball is not how I anticipated this series going. How frustrating to see the Cardinal offense to run hot and cold. A couple games we’re scoring 9+ runs and then we can’t even squeak out more than a few hits. The pitching has been more than adequate, but the offense is simply not producing. We have plenty of guys who can hit, but they actually need to do it. The only good news if we do make it to October is that against good pitching, we seem to do alright.
It’s frustrating, but it’s over. Hopefully, we can put this Pittsburgh series behind us and move on to playing the Nationals. It’s still somewhat worrisome though because this is another sub. 500 last place team, playing spoiler and playing with nothing to lose. But if anybody can get us back us track, it would be once again, Chris Carpenter. He did against the Giants in his last start and let’s hope he has his good stuff again because you just simply never know about the Cardinal offense these days.
We remain 3 1/2 games behind Cincinnati in the central and 1 game behind the Phillies for the wild card. Luckily, Houston has been our friend, beating the Phils in some very tight games. Did you see the extra inning game where Roy Oswalt had to play left field? I love stuff like that. These guys grew up playing baseball; they’re athletes at the professional level. Don’t tell me he doesn’t know how to catch a fly ball. And he got a chance to prove that he indeed can, in the very first batter of the inning. It never should have happened though. He was inserted when Ryan Howard was ejected by the third base umpire. Watch the replay. That guy was itching to throw Howard out. I’ve never seen a more visual display of an ego or a power trip in my life. It was ridiculous.
Both Pujols and Wainwright, serious contenders for the awards of MVP and Cy Young, respectively, are starting to have serious competition. There was a time I was ready to give the award to both of these guys hands down, but for now, I would say in both races, it’s simply too close to call. Pujols and Votto are neck and neck. Pujols leads Votto in home runs and RBI, but not by much, especially after Votto went yard twice last night. Pujols was gaining ground in average, even being as close as .01 point away. But is 0-fer tonight did not help his cause there.
And the same goes for the Cy Young race. At this point, I see it only as a two-horse race between Wainwright and the Phillies, Roy Halladay. Again, Wainwright and Halladay are neck and neck in this race. Wainwright narrowly edges out Halladay in ERA and wins, while Halladay has a pretty comfortable lead in strikeouts.
In both of these races, hands could still change several times the rest of the season. I don’t see any of these four guys letting up, so it looks like it will probably come down to who gets extra-hot this last month of the season. To make matters even more interesting, all three of the clubs these four represent (Reds, Cardinals, Phillies) could theoretically see the postseason.
Moving past Pittsburgh,
This is it. This is Adam Wainwright’s chance to show the world why he deserves the Cy Young award. His offense couldn’t back him up in his last start and so blew his chance at a league leading 18 wins. However, Jimenez also didn’t win his start, so both guys are still stuck at 17. There is no question that Wainwright is better than Jimenez, but some people are obsessed with wins, so Adam really needs to get that extra win to lead the pack by himself.
Not to mention that Roy Halladay is hot on his trail. The guy blazes through innings like it’s nothing. Every game you think he’s going to go the distance and he often does. His ERA is just behind Wainwright’s and he’s sneaking up on wins too. The only thing Halladay has on Wainwright is strikeouts. He leads there by 15. Wainwright should put a dent in that today, but let’s be realistic: he’s not striking out 15……even if it is the Pirates. How fun would that be to watch though?
A couple nights ago I watched the Rocket’s game where he struck out 20 for the 2nd time. 20 batters in a game. Wow. That’s more impressive than a no-hitter really. Yeah, for a pitcher to have a no-hitter he’s going to have to have his best stuff working, but come on….not all pitchers who have gotten a no-no really have no-hit stuff most of the time. There’s quite a bit of luck involved too. The right fielder in the right place at the right time. One blooper and it’s done. Not to take away from the accomplishment because it definitely is one. But 20 Ks? That’s all pitching right there. That’s having a slider or curve so nasty that guys aren’t even swinging. That’s having a fastball so blazing fast combined with setting hitters off balance with your changeup. And the fact that you can strike out 20 guys and still not get a no-hitter? Well, that just shows you how awesome and unpredictable baseball is. And why it’s the best game there is.
I’m getting off topic though. I’m supposed to be talking about Wainwright. If a guy was going to get 20 Ks or a no-hitter though, Wainwright would have a chance. I love watching him pitch. As long as I live, I will never forget Carlos Beltran’s knees buckle, as he failed to pull the trigger for the final out in game 7 of the NLCS to leave the bases loaded. Every Cardinal fan knows EXACTLY what I’m talking about and probably could detail where they were and how they felt when that happened.
And now that Wainwright is starting, I still get that feeling when he pitches. That he’s going to be great. Every time. That even if a runner is on 3rd with less than 2 outs, there’s a good chance he may not score. That we’re going to be in the ballgame until the very end, even when the bats are unproductive. And tonight it is set up for Adam to take home win #18. He’s pitching against a struggling Pirates offense where the Cardinals historically have done very well. He’s pitching in a week when the offense has really been clicking on all cylinders, including Albert Pujols. Pujols vs. the Pirates in the month of August? Forget about it. It’s almost not even fair.
Most importantly, the Cardinals are on a roll right now. They got incredible performances from Carp and Garcia and then a decent start out of Loshe. Nobody wants to be the guy to end that. It would also be great to see the Reds lose again. Yeah, they’ve lost a couple recently, but make no mistake; we are still 2 1/2 games behind the Reds. Yeah, it’s better than 5, but the Reds aren’t going to lay down either. At this point, every game matters.
Nothing more beautiful than a Wainwright curve,
It’s probably obvious that I love baseball. Why do I love it so much? Oh, a lot of reasons, but one reason you may not know is this: I love stats. If you read my blog long enough, you will learn this. One of my favorite quotes from my favorite baseball movie, (though Mark Newman would disagree with me….we should resurrect this debate at some point) is when Kevin Costner’s character says, “We count everything in baseball. That’s all we do” in response to his date’s surprise that he knows the exact number of times he’s lost.
But it’s a fact that baseball and numbers go hand in hand. And I love numbers when it comes to baseball. (Yet, I hate math. Ironic?) I love double situational splits and knowing who is the most productive leadoff hitter on the team. I love knowing a certain guy dominates left handed hitters or that some guys just see the ball better in the day.
But what I really love is that stats back up my gut. For instance, in my gut, I know that Wainwright is the leading candidate for Cy Young. But how do I prove it to you? You might like Roy Halladay. (If you like anybody else for the Cy Young, read this post because you are wrong.) I show you his stats. And if you’re going to disagree with me, you better come back with stats. And more stats than the fact that Ubaldo’s has 17 wins.
I also like delving into the game more with stats because it gives us something else to talk about. You can get a recap of the game anywhere, so I like to go beyond that. So if you have any ideas of things to discuss, stats-wise, just let me know.
So in my previous post, I was criticizing Holliday’s lack of production behind Albert. Most of all, his lack of production when Albert walks ahead of him. I had no idea what the numbers are, but I watch enough Cardinal games to know that when Pujols is getting walked, most of the time Holliday is making an out. But to be 100% sure, I need to go to the stats. That’s how I convince you and double check that my gut instinct is right.
So here are the numbers.
Albert Pujols has been walked 83 times this season, good enough for the second most in the NL. 28 of them have been intentional passes. 50 of his walks have been when Matt Holliday was hitting directly behind him. Of those 50 free passes, Holliday has made an out 39 times. Of the 39 outs, 23 ended the inning, 2 ended the game and only one was a productive out….an RBI sac fly.
So what did he do in his other 11 plate appearances? He singled four times, doubled once, hit 3 home runs, walked twice and was hit by a pitch once. Ironically, all 3 of those home runs were 3-run homers. Maybe the key is just getting two people on ahead of Holliday??
All this means is that when Albert gets walked directly in front of Matt, Matt’s hitting an abysmal .174. I mean, seriously? .174??? I didn’t bother looking up what other guys are hitting after Albert in those other 25 walks, but I have to believe that anything is better than .174. Personally, I would love to see Holliday hitting in front of Albert again. He gets better pitches and there’s a good chance if he can get on, at least Pujols will drive him in more times than not. Yes, taking Holliday out of the cleanup spot would mean that Pujols would get walked a little more, but is that all bad? As long as you have someone that is getting the job done from time to time, we will still get runs, not to mention Pujols RBI total going up as well.
What floors me is that LaRussa has to know this. And he is a stats guy to the extreme. If one guy hits better at 7:34 than 7:33, he won’t hesitate to pinch hit. He brings in pitchers only to face one batter. But yet he continues to let Holliday into out after out.
As I said previously, where this will really hurt us is in the playoffs. Some teams won’t hesitate to walk Pujols 4 times in the game, if they know that Holliday will make the last out. Something has to be done.
But what do you think, Cardinal fans? Am I crazy? Would it be a mistake to hit Holiday 2nd again? Or are you with me on this one? If he would hit 2nd, who should clean up? Rasmus? Yadi? Feliz? Someone else?
Trying my hand at managing,
Ugh. The Reds beat the Marlins 5-4. Maybe the Fish were watching the
Cardinals game because with two walks and a base hit, they loaded the
bases in the 9th with nobody out. Unfortunately, they only squeezed out
one run on a double play ball. Uggla then popped up to end the game
which let Cincinnati pull back even with the ‘Birds. Seems like
whatever we do, we just can’t shake this team. I’d love to put some
distance between us, but it seems like one of those years where it just
might come down to the wire.
In other news, Wainwright’s top two competitors for the Cy Young award pitched yesterday and today. I already talked yesterday
about how Josh Johnson was roughed up pretty bad by the Reds. He took
himself out of my top 3, for the time being, with my 3rd place vote now
going to Atlanta’s Tim Hudson. He’s been quietly putting together a
pretty decent season. Hudson is now 2nd in ERA and 4th in wins. The
only thing that hurts him is the low strikeout total. But outs are outs
and he’s definitely in the running to finish in the top 3.
Halladay, however, threw another excellent game and put the pressure
squarely back on Wainwright. Those two are neck and neck. Halladay
went 8 innings today, allowing no runs and striking out 7. For awhile,
it seemed like he might have another complete game shutout to add to his
resume, but luckily his pitch count was 113 and he was pulled after 8
Still, Halladay managed to increase support for his case
for the NL Cy Young by lowering his ERA to 2.24 and picking up his 15th
win. And did I mention those 7 strikeouts? Wow, this guy really does
it all. He’s now 3rd in ERA, 3rd in wins and remains 1st in strikeouts
by a ton.
At this point in time, I still give the edge to Wainwright (as I did here)
because I think being 1st in wins and ERA goes a long way, but it’s not
over by a long shot. If Wainwright’s ERA drops a lot in next couple
starts and he fails to get to that magic number of 20 wins, Halladay
could surpass him. But hopefully Adam will deliver another
Wainwright-esque performance and this could be a fun battle to watch all
the way through September.
As for tomorrow’s game, Kyle Loshe
returns to pitch for the first time since May 22nd. He was far from
impressive in those 9 starts, so let’s hope he comes back bigger and
better that ever. Here’s also hoping that Albert continue to rake.
He’s always tended to get hot in August and this year is no exception.
He’s only gone hitless one game this month and is hitting .447 and
slugging .830 for the month. Are you kidding??? He’s also already gone
deep 5 times with 13 ribbies and scored 15 runs. I think it’s safe to
say he’s feeling good at the plate right now. His average is up to
.313, instead of hovering around the .300 mark as it has been so long.
He’s back in the top 5 in the league for average and of course continues
to be at the top in home runs and RBIs. Albert for MVP and Wainwright
for Cy Young could be a perfect addition to World Series win #11,
right? But I’m getting ahead of myself. First things first. And that
first thing is Loshe getting us the series win against the Cubbies.
Wanting to see a healthy Loshe do his thing,