Express Lane Reading: 20 Items, Scan and Go…
1-After getting locked into another sleeper hold and submitting to the Minnesota pitchers on Tuesday night, the Cardinals were averaging 2.86 runs over their last 14 games (30th), batting .194 (30th), slugging .330 (30th), finessing a .280 onbase percentage (29th) and .609 (OPS).
1a-We know that the team’s batting coaches aren’t held accountable, so maybe John Mozeliak can fire Derek Lilliquist again.
2- Carlos Martinez is going to be fine. Just a minor thing. Strained lat. Just a little extra rest, and good to go. Right? … RIGHT?
3-Yeah, me too. Believe this at your own risk. A risk to your own mental health.
4-The Cardinals went into Wednesday’s game with a 3.11 starting-pitching ERA that ranked 2nd in the National League, and 3rd in the majors. That’s the foundation. Alex Reyes may be able to strengthen it soon.
5-And the only thing wrong with Flaherty’s three starts this season (2.87 ERA) is a Cardinals’ offense that managed a grand total of seven runs scored with Flaherty pitching. That’s why the team is 0-3 in his starts.
6-Luke Gregerson’s velocity is so far down on his slider and fastball, that I don’t think he’ll be able to find it on the disabled list. This does not appear to be a particularly strong candidate for management’s finest free-agent signing.s
7-Through Tuesday, Jose Martinez was hitting .219 with a .284 onbase percentage and .329 slug and .613 OPS in his last 81 plate appearances spanning 18 games — with only one homer and five doubles. He was also 2 for 18 with runners in scoring position… In his first 19 games of the season Martinez batted .358 with a .443 OBP, .567 slug, 1.010 OPS, five doubles, three homers, 16 RBIs and a .474 average with runners in scoring position. Update: Martinez cranked out some offense against the Twins on Wednesday, so maybe he’s on his way back.
8-Relievers John Brebbia and Mike Mayers keep riding that Memphis shuttle …. up and down, up and down. And they do a helluva job amid the chaos. I agree with my colleague Kevin Wheeler; I’m trying to understand how Matt Bowman got a waiver and doesn’t have to ride the Memphis shuttle. Bowman has minor-league options remaining. He also has a 5.63 ERA and 1.81 WHIP in 16 innings this season, and a 5.03 ERA in his last 68 appearances. With bad numbers all the way around. Free pass. OK.
9–Mike Matheny finally moved Matt Carpenter down in the lineup! Incredible. I’ll call the Vatican.
10-Watching Tuesday’s game, bottom 6th, Twins had the top of the lineup coming around for the third time, and that’s full alert time … so of course, Matheny allows Jack Flaherty to face the Twins’ lineup the third time through as part of a laborious 30-pitch inning. And … of course: single, single, single, 1-1 tie, Jack is finished for the night.
11. Almost always reactive. Almost never proactive. That’s Bill DeWitt Jr.’s favorite manager.
12–Opponents had used a defensive shift against Carpenter on 62.9% of his plate appearances (88/140) through Tuesday; that was the 5th-highest percentage used against any hitter in the majors and miles above the MLB average of 19.6%.
13-Carpenter is having an exceedingly difficult time handling fastballs this season, batting just .100 (6-for-60) through Tuesday; that was the lowest batting average against a fastball by a major-league hitter with at least 57 plate appearances this season. The MLB average is .272.
13a-Carpenter was batting .043 on fastballs away (1-for-23), the worst among hitters … and he had not hit a line drive (0/12) on elevated fastballs … Carpenter was batting .083 (2-for-24) on pitches of 94 mph of greater this season, tied for 9th lowest. MLB average: .255.
14–American League ballpark, designated hitter in use, a St. Louis offense that’s starving, and Tyler O’Neill is at Memphis with his .741 slugging percentage and 13 homers and a HR ratio of hitting a bomb every 8.3 at-bats? OK.
15–Going into Wednesday’s game, Marcell Ozuna was batting a weak .114 (4-for-35) on pitches of 94 mph or greater this season. That was the 5th worst batting average in the majors against 94+ pitches; the MLB average on those pitches is .265.
16–After giving up only three earned runs in 19 innings over his last three starts for Triple A Memphis, Cardinals’ RH pitching prospect Dakota Hudson lowered his ERA to 2.88 for the season.
17-Through Tuesday the Cardinals had scored 43.9% of their runs on homers this season; only five MLB offenses were more dependent on the long ball: Cleveland (53.2%), Colorado (47.9%), Chicago White Sox (47.6%), Baltimore (44.5%) and Seattle (44%.)
18-Lots of talk out yonder about how reliever Greg Holland is turning it around, settling in, getting better, etc. No sale. Not ready to buy that. Maybe in a while; not now. Why? Because the man has a strikeout rate of only 14.5 percent this season … and if we’re looking for the most recent trend, Holland’s strikeout rate in his last five appearances is 9.1%. Look, we’re talking about a guy here who had a strikeout rate of 29.8% last season for Colorado. And a career swing-and-miss rate of 35% that’s fallen to 24.7% this season. And the walks continue to be a problem.
19-Former Cardinal Lance Lynn served up another ugly start Wednesday for the Twins, and it isn’t getting any better for him. Lynn lasted 3 innings against his former team, needing to 82 pitches to get nine outs. He threw 36 called balls, walked four, gave up four hits, and three earned runs. Because of terrible control problems, Lynn has averaged a little over 4 innings in his eight starts. His ERA for the season is up to 7.47, and his walk rate is a staggering 16.1%. Anybody out there still think the Cardinals messed up by moving on from Lynn?
20-The Cardinals don’t use many defensive shifts, but when they do go with a traditional defensive shift in an attempt to stifle opposing hitters, Cards pitchers give up a .280 average and .613 OPS. When the Cardinals don’t use a shift, the batting average against their pitchers is .294, with a .657 OPS. There’s also a 29-point difference in slugging percentage (.362 slug no shift; .333 with shift.)
Thanks for reading …