Anyone who caught Tuesday’s St. Louis Cardinals series opener in Pittsburgh witnessed Todd Wellemeyer get hammered 7-1 by a badly slumping Pittsburgh Pirates club, losers of eight straight and 12 of their last 13 games coming in.
It was such a bad evening that when Wellemeyer tried to retaliate against a pair of Cardinals hit batters by firing a pitch up at Freddy Sanchez, he missed the second baseman entirely, throwing behind him.
But the subject of this post isn’t to complain about Wellemeyer, who allowed seven runs on nine hits over 4 1/3 innings. Instead, it is a quick look at the troubles of the Cardinals starting pitchers as a group this season to-date.
In the big picture, Chris Carpenter remains on the disabled list, Adam Wainwright is consistently allowing too many baserunners, Kyle Lohse and Joel Pineiro were sick then off their respective games and Mitchell Boggs remains youthfully inconsistent.
On one hand, even with the Tuesday loss, the starters in aggregate have a 15-8 (.652) record, among the best in the National League.
A look at their numbers in greater depth illustrates some of the problems. The table below lists the NL starting pitching stats by team coming into Tuesday’s game ranked by ERA. I then added Wellemeyer’s Tuesday line into the totals, giving the up-to-date Cardinals a second line.
|(4)||St. Louis (5/11)||15||7||0.682||4.00||32||189||205||811||96||84||14||64||125||0.281|
|10||St. Louis (5/12)||15||8||0.652||4.24||33||193.1||214||836||103||91||16||67||129||0.285|
On Monday, the Cards starters were fourth in the league in ERA at an even four runs per game. Once Wellemeyer’s Tuesday performance was added in, almost a quarter run per nine innings was lumped on the starters. That would drop them all the way from fourth down to tenth in the NL.
Another indication of the concern is the batting average of the opposing hitters. Prior to Tuesday, the Cardinals starters were touched for a .281 batting average, third-worst in the league. Wellemeyer raised that to .285 on Tuesday.
There is some positive news in that Carpenter is inching closer to a return, perhaps taking the mound in rehab later in the week, but the current five starters seem to be struggling all at once. With Monday’s day off, instead of skipping Boggs this time through, Tony La Russa instead decided to give Lohse and Wainwright an extra day of rest. It seems early for that, but given everything it is probably a good thing.
As a result of the difficulties, the Cardinals are playing only .500 ball over their last ten games. Obviously, over the long haul, that won’t be good enough. While St. Louis is still on top of the NL Central, they are also just two games out of where they finished last season – in fourth place.