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Wellemeyer underscores Cards starting pitching woes


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.

RK CLUB W L PCT ERA G IP H TBF R ER HR BB SO AVG
1 LOS ANGELES 14 6 0.700 3.70 33 185 149 776 80 76 12 84 153 0.224
2 SAN FRANCISCO 11 10 0.524 3.96 31 179.2 160 764 82 79 21 82 175 0.241
3 ATLANTA 13 12 0.520 3.99 32 189.2 176 812 93 84 20 73 162 0.246
(4) St. Louis (5/11) 15 7 0.682 4.00 32 189 205 811 96 84 14 64 125 0.281
4 PITTSBURGH 11 13 0.458 4.04 31 189.1 183 803 91 85 18 70 100 0.261
5 ARIZONA 8 16 0.333 4.14 33 193.1 184 814 92 89 29 65 148 0.250
6 CINCINNATI 17 11 0.607 4.14 32 198 188 843 99 91 25 76 150 0.251
7 HOUSTON 7 12 0.368 4.17 32 172.2 178 741 84 80 13 67 124 0.274
8 MILWAUKEE 10 10 0.500 4.19 32 187 170 803 93 87 27 75 145 0.242
9 CHICAGO 13 8 0.619 4.22 31 185.2 176 791 91 87 27 70 171 0.251
10 St. Louis (5/12) 15 8 0.652 4.24 33 193.1 214 836 103 91 16 67 129 0.285
11 NEW YORK 15 8 0.652 4.42 31 175 167 767 91 86 18 82 138 0.253
12 COLORADO 9 11 0.450 4.59 30 170.2 169 747 94 87 20 74 121 0.259
13 FLORIDA 8 12 0.400 4.61 32 183.1 196 809 104 94 19 65 141 0.271
14 SAN DIEGO 5 11 0.313 4.71 32 179.2 174 772 99 94 16 80 144 0.259
15 WASHINGTON 9 11 0.450 5.16 31 167.1 199 770 116 96 22 78 96 0.295
16 PHILADELPHIA 7 10 0.412 6.28 29 157.2 196 722 110 110 38 58 114 0.308

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.

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