The Cardinal Nation blog

Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Fewer Cardinals quality starts but more quality relief

Quality starts are a somewhat controversial stat, yet can often prove useful as a quick and dirty measure of the effectiveness of the members of a starting rotation. For reference, a quality start is one of at least six innings in duration, during which the opposition scores three or fewer runs.

However, the St. Louis Cardinals have shown in the last two post-seasons that quality finishes – as in solid relief work – have been at least as important as quality starts.

Some background.

During the last two regular seasons, 324 games, St. Louis Cardinals pitchers logged 185 quality starts, including 86 last year and a major improvement to 99 in 2012. In other words, the Cardinals received a quality start in just over 57 percent of their outings in 2011-2012.

The final quality start of 2012 was earned on the last day of the regular season by a top prospect making his first career MLB start, Shelby Miller. For the full season, Kyle Lohse led the club with 24 (in 33 starts), easily out-distancing Adam Wainwright, who was next with 18 (in 32 starts). Chris Carpenter had the most quality starts in 2011 with 21 (in 34 starts).

The post-season is another story entirely. Despite the Cardinals success – winning the 2011 World Series and reaching the Championship Series so far in 2012 – their starters have been logging considerably fewer quality starts.

After Lance Lynn was pulled in the fourth inning Monday night, researcher extraordinaire Tom Orf commented about a trend. Over the last two post-seasons, Cardinals starting pitchers have failed to go six innings 17 times in 25 games. Just eight quality starts in 25 tries equates to a 32 percent rate – compared to that 57 percent mark during the regular season.

Ironically, the Cardinals’ only quality start in the 2012 post-season to date ended in the NLDS Game 4 loss, though it was of no fault of Lohse, who allowed just one run in seven innings. The seven 2011 post-season quality starts were logged by Carpenter (four), Jaime Garcia (two) and Edwin Jackson (one).

There could be many potential factors in the reduced number of quality starts in the post-season, with the most obvious one being quality of opposition. Others could include fatigue/injury, playoff pressure and of course, a quick managerial hook to ensure crucial post-season games do not get out of control.

This is far from a gloom and doom story, however. In fact, it is just the opposite.

Generally speaking, the starters have been taken out of the games soon enough that with timely scoring and solid relieving, the Cardinals have been able to win more often than not.

Specifically, of those 17 non-quality start post-season games, the Cardinals still secured 12 victories, for a very, very good .706 winning percentage. Of course, that included Monday night’s NLCS Game 1.

The relief pitching in the 17 non-quality start games was a key difference. Though several of the bullpen members have changed from year-to-year, the results have remained strong.

In those 17 contests, the Cardinals relievers pitched 83 innings, an average of just under five innings per game. They allowed just 26 earned runs for a 2.82 ERA.

Remember, these were games in which the starter had left early, barely averaging four innings. In those outings, the starters threw a total of just 69 innings, allowing 50 earned runs for a 6.52 ERA.

In an indication the offense did its part, too, the bullpen had a 9-1 record in these contests and were 5-for-6 in save opportunities. The early-departing starters went just 3-4.

In all fairness, the Cardinals relievers have been both good and consistent, whether a quality start was made or not. As the table below indicates, despite an 0-3 record in the eight quality start games, the relievers’ ERA is 3.00, very close to the 2.82 mark in the 17 non-quality contests. As one would expect, the big difference is in the starters’ ERAs.

Post-season Total 2011 2012 to-date StL W-L Starter W-L Reliever W-L Starter ERA Reliever ERA
Non-QS games 17 11 6 12-5 3-4 9-1 6.52 2.82
QS games 8 7 1 4-4 4-1 0-3 1.96 3.00
2011+2012 to date 25 18 7 16-9 7-5 9-4 4.50 2.85
Win percentage 0.640 0.583 0.692

For the detail lovers, here are the stats from the 17 non-quality start games, with the starters listed in the first table (by date with most recent on top) and relievers in aggregate in the second (in the same game sequence). Thanks again to Tom Orf for pulling the raw data summarized below after sparking the idea for this post.

Non-quality start Date Series Gm Opp Rslt App,Dec IP H R ER BB SO HR
Lance Lynn 10/14/2012 NLCS 1 SF W 6-4 GS-4 3.2 5 4 4 2 3 0
Adam Wainwright 10/12/2012 NLDS 5 WSN W 9-7 GS-3 2.1 7 6 6 0 5 3
Chris Carpenter 10/10/2012 NLDS 3 WSN W 8-0 GS-6 ,W 5.2 7 0 0 2 2 0
Jaime Garcia 10/8/2012 NLDS 2 WSN W 12-4 GS-2 2.0 2 1 1 3 3 0
Adam Wainwright 10/7/2012 NLDS 1 WSN L 2-3 GS-6 5.2 6 1 1 3 10 0
Kyle Lohse 10/5/2012 NLWC 1 ATL W 6-3 GS-6 ,W 5.2 6 2 2 1 6 1
Jaime Garcia 10/27/2011 WS 6 TEX W 10-9 GS-3 3.0 5 2 2 2 3 0
Edwin Jackson 10/23/2011 WS 4 TEX L 0-4 GS-6 ,L 5.1 3 3 3 7 3 0
Kyle Lohse 10/22/2011 WS 3 TEX W 16-7 GS-4 3.0 5 3 3 2 3 2
Edwin Jackson 10/16/2011 NLCS 6 MIL W 12-6 GS-2 2.0 4 4 4 0 2 3
Jaime Garcia 10/14/2011 NLCS 5 MIL W 7-1 GS-5 4.2 7 1 1 0 5 0
Kyle Lohse 10/13/2011 NLCS 4 MIL L 2-4 GS-5 ,L 4.1 6 3 3 0 3 0
Chris Carpenter 10/12/2011 NLCS 3 MIL W 4-3 GS-5 ,W 5.0 6 3 3 3 3 1
Edwin Jackson 10/10/2011 NLCS 2 MIL W 12-3 GS-5 4.1 7 2 2 1 3 1
Jaime Garcia 10/9/2011 NLCS 1 MIL L 6-9 GS-5 ,L 4.0 6 6 6 3 3 2
Chris Carpenter 10/2/2011 NLDS 2 PHI W 5-4 GS-3 3.0 5 4 4 3 2 0
Kyle Lohse 10/1/2011 NLDS 1 PHI L 6-11 GS-6 ,L 5.1 7 6 5 1 4 2

Non-QS starter

2012 Series Gm #RP Relievers IP H R ER BB SO HR
Lynn NLCS 1 6 Kelly, Rzep, Rosenthal, Mujica (W), Boggs (H), Motte (Sv) 5.1 2 0 0 2 4 0
Wainwright NLDS 5 5 Kelly, Rosenthal, Mujica, Boggs, Motte (W) 6.2 4 1 1 1 6 0
Carpenter NLDS 3 3 Rosenthal, Salas, Kelly 3.1 0 0 0 1 3 0
Garcia NLDS 2 5 Lynn (W), Kelly, Mujica, Boggs, Rosenthal 7 8 3 3 1 8 2
Wainwright NLDS 1 5 Lynn (H), Mujica (H), Rzepczynski (BS), Boggs (L), Motte 3.1 2 2 0 1 3 0
Lohse NLWC 1 5 Lynn (H), Mujica (H), Rzepczynski, Boggs (H), Motte (Sv) 3.1 6 1 1 2 1 0
Garcia WS 6 6 Salas, Lynn, Dotel, Rzepczynski, Motte, Westbrook (W) 8 10 7 5 3 5 3
Jackson WS 4 2 Boggs, Westbrook 2.2 3 1 1 1 3 1
Lohse WS 3 4 Salas, Lynn (W), Dotel, Boggs 6 8 4 4 2 4 0
Jackson NLCS 6 5 Salas, Rzepczynski (W), Dotel, Lynn, Motte 7 3 2 2 1 7 0
Garcia NLCS 5 4 Dotel (W), Lynn, Rzepczynski (H), Motte (Sv) 4.1 2 0 0 1 3 0
Lohse NLCS 4 4 Boggs, Rhodes, Dotel, Salas 4.2 4 1 1 1 5 0
Carpenter NLCS 3 4 Salas (H), Lynn (H), Rzepczynski (H), Motte (Sv) 4 0 0 0 0 4 0
Jackson NLCS 2 6 Rhodes, Lynn (W), Salas, Rzepczynski, Boggs, Motte 4.2 1 1 1 2 1 1
Garcia NLCS 1 5 Dotel, Lynn, McClellan, Rzepczynski, Boggs 4 5 3 2 2 1 1
Carpenter NLDS 2 6 Salas, Dotel (W), Rzep (H), Boggs (H), Rhodes (H), Motte (Sv) 6 1 0 0 0 6 0
Lohse NLDS 1 4 Dotel, Rzepczynski, Boggs, Rhodes 2.2 7 5 5 1 3 0

Follow me on Twitter.
Follow The Cardinal Nation Blog on Facebook.

Follow me

Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
Follow me

43 Responses to “Fewer Cardinals quality starts but more quality relief”

  1. blingboy says:

    Nice BB for Beltran. His post season OBP must be over .500

  2. Bw52 says:

    Too bad Holliday,Freese and Yadi haven`t shown up .Beltran can`t do it himself.Geez are the giants lucky tonite.

  3. JumboShrimp says:

    Carpenter made a good pitch to Belt, he took it to opposite field, good hitting. Blanco a lucky single. Not a lucky 4th for Chris.
    Salas could get work tonight, Miller too.
    Chambers might get to play, to give some energy.

  4. JumboShrimp says:

    We have gotten what we wanted from the trip to SF, one win.
    While Vogelsong is a good pitcher, the Cards are not hitting well. Molina and Holliday seem tuckered.
    We lucked out with our first run. Kozma got lucky with a walk and Carpenter nailed a double, a sight seldom seen.

  5. JumboShrimp says:

    The advantage the Giants enjoy is in left swingers against our starting pitchers, who are all RHPs. They send up Pagan, Blanco, Belt, Crawford, and Sandoval swinging lefty, while we have only Jay, Beltran, and Descalso for theirs. We may want to get Matt Carpenter into the lineup in some way.

  6. blingboy says:

    The Cards are masters at mixing in sloppy poorly played lifeless games. It means nothing.

    Bill probably called down and said “Back off guys, If I don’t get three home games out of this I’m replacing the Charmin with that scratchy no-name stuff”.

  7. blingboy says:

    I’m thinking that Carp and Waino better keep an eye on their rearview mirror.

  8. crdswmn says:

    Is there a bigger team of sissies in MLB than Bruce Bochy and the Giants?

    “My player got a boo boo!’ WAAAAAAA!!! “I want a public execution!”

    Now I want to beat these babies just on principal.

    • blingboy says:

      It wasn’t the cleanest play I’ve ever seen.

      • crdswmn says:

        He was a step late in sliding. It’s the playoffs and the players are pumped up 10 times more than normal. The play happened fast and Holliday was not trying to hurt Scutaro. It wasn’t dirty, just unfortunate.

        The Giants have been down this road before. They have milked the Posey injury for all it’s worth since it happened. They no doubt will do the same with this if they can. Bunch of drama queens.

        • blingboy says:

          More than a step late and went in high.

          I agree its the playoffs and everybody is pumped. Second baseman wasn’t ready and positioned correctly. Should have anticipated a hard slide. Should have factored in that a linebacker size guy who tends to slide hard was coming in.

          The other side is that the runner should know that it is a potentially dangerous play with the second baseman looking toward short and the runner coming in behind him. A careless slide is not really acceptable in that case.

          • crdswmn says:

            I think you have a bias against Matt Holliday that is coloring your viewpoint, so I am not going to continue to argue about this with you. I’m not in the mood.

          • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

            I was sitting right off of 1st base so I can tell you a little about some “other” considerations. Its cool in SF. They like to put some water on that infield. Lots of water. Early on (1st inning)that field was a lot like flaky pie crust on fly paper. Beltran made a headfirst slide on the double, and if he wouldn’t have been going hard, wouldn’t of even made the bag. Looked painful. He slide about a foot after he landed. Holiday came in very hard and very high, as he was trying to effect the play. When he tried to get his feet around that close to the bag, they slipped out. If he tries to go down at that point he likely breaks ribs right on the bag. Avoiding injury, he went over the top of the bag and got in some trouble. It looked bad, but in truth, the amount of water and the composition of that playing surface dictated the outcome of the play. If he gets down in time, no way he even gets passed the bag. Most teams have field control parameters that they feel befits their team and style of play. This was one of them for Frisco. Slowing things around home for Posey? Protecting 3rd? Small middle infielders? Things happen.

    • Kansasbirdman says:

      Not that I totally disagree, but I can see why they are a little gunshy with with what happened to posey last year. I also don’t think Holliday meant to cause injury, and I don’t think the Giants are under that impression either. They needed something to rally around, whereas our Cardinals rally from the depths of their beings.

      • crdswmn says:

        Yadi was coldcocked at the plate. He said “clean play” and moved on. Most fans did the same. How long did the talk about that last? Couple of days?

        Bochy has already started the nonsense by calling the play “illegal”. You wait, it will get worse. John Kruk of ESPN has already called for Holliday to be suspended. We won’t hear the end of it for some time.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      Principle, not principal.

  9. blingboy says:

    I’m going to have to get a blow up of Matt flubbing the grounder with the bases loaded. I’ve got a spot for it next to the belly ball blow up.

    And how about Jay. Makes another great diving catch. But he lets the pitcher hit one over his head. At least he lost his glove chasing after it. That was a nice touch.

  10. blingboy says:

    crdswmn, check private messages on the main site.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.