While two members of the 2008 Springfield Cardinals pitching staff, Luis Perdomo and Luke Gregerson, made their major league debuts last week wearing the uniform of the San Diego Padres, the pitchers that remained behind to make up the 2009 version of the Texas League Cardinals’ staff have been struggling.
Over half the staff, seven of the 12, are receiving their initial taste of Double-A ball. Seven of Springfield’s pitchers – the entire bullpen – are making their first career appearances at the level this season, though one, Trey Hearne, pitched in the Mexican League last year. The other six: Tyler Norrick, Kristiam Linares, Elvis Hernandez, Pete Parise, Francisco Samuel (pictured) and Kenny Maiques.
The Double-A Cardinals’ hurlers passed out eight free passes on Friday night and not surprisingly lead the league in walks issued. The alarming total is 58 in just nine games.
It isn’t even close, as the nearest team has issued “just” 46 bases on balls. The number one club, San Antonio, has just given out exactly half the walks of Springfield at 29. Only half of the team’s 12-man staff have more strikeouts than walks.
Too many of those walked batters are crossing the plate too, as the Cardinals pitching staff is carrying an ERA of 5.44. That is sixth in the eight-team Texas League.
While league-leader Corpus Christi’s staff has a solid WHIP of 1.30, the Cardinals are dead last at 1.79. That means Springfield’s pitchers are playing with fire by putting one more runner on base every two innings than are the Hooks.
Springfield’s 4-2 win over Frisco on Saturday indicates a considerable improvement over the previous eight games, for one night at least. Coming into the day, the Cardinals’ ERA of 6.00 was last in the circuit.
Starter Brad Furnish actually saw his 2009 ERA increase to 0.77 despite allowing just one earned run in 6 2/3 innings. The bullpen, specifically Norrick and Samuel, finished up. Norrick allowed an inherited run to cross the plate, but that was it.
One key to the victory was that the three hurlers issued just two bases on balls in total all evening and neither runner scored. Samuel did make things interesting as the game ended with the two Friscans on base as the potential winning runner was retired on a popup.
Despite all the pitching challenges, Springfield has managed a winning record to date by outscoring the opposition. Their 59 runs scored top the Texas League and their 5-4 mark is tied for the lead in the North Division.
One cannot yet consider the corner having been turned based on just a single good evening, however.
Strugglers in the early action are not just limited to the pen. Three of the five members of the rotation, Justin Fiske (8.68), Kyle Mura (11.57) and Tyler Herron (8.44) are pulling high ERAs. To be fair to them, the first two each have just a pair of starts under their belts, while the latter makes his second regular-season start on Sunday at Midland.
Among the new Double-A relievers, only Norrick and Hernandez have WHIPs under 1.74. Norrick (2.57), Linares (2.84) and Parise (3.38) are the only ones with ERAs under 5.50. The latter two may be living on borrowed time however, unless they put fewer runners on base (WHIPs of 1.74 and 1.88 respectively, for Linares and Parise).
Two pen members have ERAs in the double digits, closer Samuel (10.80) and Kenny Maiques (13.50). Maiques leads the walk parade with nine in 2 2/3 innings.
Where are they now?
Check out Cardinals Best News Links for a series on where former Cardinals major and minor leaguers have landed for 2009. So far, US, Mexico and Indy leagues are covered.