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For the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright, Home Is Where the Heart Is

Bird Bytes.

Notes on a Scorecard: 

Do emotions matter? The warm and affectionate relationship between Cardinal fans and pitcher Adam Wainwright was on full display during his two recent starts at Busch Stadium. The fans love Wainwright and the feeling is definitely mutual. And you know the old saying: Home is where the heart is.

And here’s the thing about Waino pitching at home: He’s different. He’s better. Even though Wainwright has been dealing with injuries, a decrease in velocity and command issues over the last three seasons, he’s still turned in a bunch of good performances at Busch Stadium.

Take a look:

Wainwright’s Stats Since the Start of 2016

Road: 161 innings, 6.43 ERA, 5.17 fielding independent ERA.

Home:: 190 innings, 3.27 ERA,  3.29 fielding independent ERA.

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Road:  1.6 home runs per nine innings.

Home:  0.6 homers per nine innings.

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Road: Opponents have a  .305 average, .376 onbase, and .523 slugging.

Home: Opponents  have a .255 average, .316 onbase, .371 slugging.

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Road:  Strikeout-Walk ratio of 2.7.

Home: Strikeout-Walk ratio of 2.0

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Wainwright is scheduled to start Saturday’s home game against the Giants.

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More on the Cardinals’ home/road splits on offense. Yesterday, I offered numbers on the startling difference between the Cardinals’ hitting performances on the road (great) compared to their production at home (below average) in 2018.  In response to your inquiries, here are the most glaring examples of the road/home hitting disparity.

Yadier Molina:  .925 OPS, 17 HR and .561 SLG  on the road. Home: .586 OPS, one HR, .308 SLG.

Harrison Bader: .862 OPS, 10 HR and .512 SLG on road. Home: 674 OPS,  2 HR and .352 SLG.

Paul DeJong: .816 OPS, 15 HR and .498 SLG on road.  Home:  .664 OPS, 4 HR and .361 SLG.

Jedd Gyorko:  .882 OPS, 5 HR and .483 SLG on road.  Home: .658 OPS, 6 HR and .367 SLG

Matt Carpenter: 1.022 OPS,  23 HR and .626 SLG on road. Home: .806 OPS, 12 HR and .441 SLG.

Yairo Munoz:  .816 OPS, 7 HR and .471 SLG on road. Home:  .697 OPS, 1 HR, and .356 SLG.

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On the other hand, some Cardinals hitters are doing better at Busch Stadium than on the road this season… Marcell Ozuna is slugging .469 wth 12 homers at Busch and is slugging .409 with 10 homers on the road …  Tyler O’Neill  has an .885 OPS, five homers and a .543 slug at home; on the road it’s  .651 OPS, three homers and  .420 slug … Kolten Wong has a .750 OPS, .428 slug and six homers at Busch with a .689 OPS, .351 slug and three homers on the road.. … small sample and all of that, but Patrick Wisdom has a .789 slug percentage and three homers at Busch with a a .318 slug and one homer on the road… And while Jose Martinez has a home OPS (.826) that’s 20 points higher than his .806 road OPS, he has the same amount of homers on the road (eight) as he does at home, and his home slugging percentage (.456) is only seven points higher than his .449 road slugging rate.

Other than his pitching line in his Wednesday start at Atlanta — which included allowing five earned runs in 4.2 innings — was there anything wrong with Jack Flaherty? Was he tired? Now that Flaherty has reached 174.2 innings this season (including his work at Triple A Memphis) is Flaherty running low on fuel? He wasn’t pleased by that post-game line of questioning. But here’s the deal: Flaherty’s average fastball velocity (94.2) against the Braves was actually higher than his season velocity. And while his slider velocity (84 mph) was down a bit from his season average (84.16) it wasn’t anything to worry about. And Jack got 15 swings and misses by Braves’ hitters, which is in line with his season trend and always a positive sign…

Here’s why Flaherty had a tough day: the Braves had a .333 batting average on the 14 Flaherty pitches that they put in play. For perspective, here are the opponent batting average on balls in play against Flaherty in his previous eight starts before Atlanta:  .250, …  .286, … .167, … .222, …. .000, … .231, …  .167, … .231. And the MLB average on balls in play is .293. The batted-ball luck went against Flaherty in Atlanta …

A look at my Yairo Munoz file: The rookie has a groundball rate of 81 percent on outside pitches over the last 30 days, 2nd highest in the majors among hitters with at least 35 plate appearances; the league average is 48.5% … Munoz is batting just .036 (1-for-28) on non-fastballs over the last 30 days, 3rd worst among MLB hitters … pitchers are exploiting Munoz’ extreme tendency to chase breaking pitches and other non-fastballs thrown below the strike zone. He’s chased 63.3% of non-fastballs out of the zone down (31 of 49) over the last 30 days — the highest such rate among MLB hitters. But man, young Munoz can handle fastballs. Munoz is batting .412 (14-for-34) on fastballs over the last 30 days, the 9th best in MLB among hitters with at least 35 PA’s. And he’s swung and missed  on only 4.7% of pitches of 94 mph or greater over the last 30 days. And over his last 19 games 30 Munoz is batting .500 with an .800 slug and 1.322 OPS against pitched clocked 94+mph. Breaking pitches? Not so much; an .043 batting average against the breakers over his last 19 contests.

Back to Jose Martinez, he has good numbers hitting with the bases empty, with runners on base, and with runners in scoring position — but is 0-for-11 with three strikeouts when the bases are loaded for him this season. … Tyler O’Neill has swung and missed at 53.3%  of the pitches thrown his way over his 22 games; that’s the worst swing-miss breeze in MLB over the last month (and 22 games for O’Neill) … In his last 17 games, O’Neill has struck out 20 times in 42 plate appearances (47.6%)  vs. RH pitchers.  … according to Inside Edge, Matt Carpenter has a net of minus 19 hits against the shift this season. It breaks down this way: the shift has robbed Carpenter of 33 hits — but he’s also collected 14 hits because teams were using the shift… so that’s a net of minus 19, which is tored for t14 hits caused by the shift) this season — tied for worst in MLB this season. The MLB average is only three hits lost per player because of the shift.

The Cardinals have made 16 non-routine plays out of 48 chances (33.3%) in close and late situations this season, 5th best in the majors … Relative to faster and more aggressive teams, the Cardinals don’t try to steal many bases. But when they go for it, they’ve taken off on a steal attempt on the first pitch 29 times this season, tied for 7th-most in the majors. … Cardinals hitters are baffled by changeups; they’ve put only 28.0% of their swings in play on changeups over the last 30 days (that’s 25 games), and that’s the lost rate in MLB over that time — and 10 percent below the league average for putting changeups in play. … More: the Cards are batting just .116 (10-for-86) on changeups over the last 30 days, worst in the majors.

John Gant’s changeup is really good, especially when he uses it on two-strike counts. And he throws the changeup on two strikes more than most MLB starting pitchers, with a rate of 38.6% that’s the 7th highest among MLB pitchers with at least 75 IP this season. It’s one of the reasons why Gant has allowed a slugging percentage of only .198 on two-strike counts this season; that ranks 8th best among pitchers. … Gant has used the slick changeup to notch 35 percent of his strikeouts vs. LH batters, and used it to record 50% of his strikeouts vs. RH batters.

Thanks for reading …

–Bernie

More: Does Busch Stadium Give the Cardinals a True Home Field Advantage? No.