As of today, the Cardinals have a 78 percent chance of making the postseason. While their opponent remains TBD, we do know the series will be best-of-three. The Cardinals have relied heavily on their pitching staff to get them to where they are today. I think we can all agree Jack Flaherty and Adam Wainwright would start for the Cardinals in the first two games of the series.
The question is – who starts Game 3?
The Cardinals do have a few options: Dakota Hudson, Carlos Martinez and Kwang-Hyun Kim.
Hudson has been the Cardinals third starter since opening day. It seems like he would be the choice, right? He’s 3-2 with a 2.92 ERA in seven starts this year. But only two of those starts came against teams above .500 (Cubs & White Sox). The case for Hudson is the Cardinals won each of his last 4 starts, he has the third best ERA on the staff and he has postseason experience. One thing that separates Hudson from Martinez and Kim is the fact that he’s the only one to start in the postseason. In two postseason starts, Hudson threw just five innings with an ERA of 9.00.
I would turn elsewhere if I was put in charge of the Cardinals.
Martinez has been one of the most fascinating stories for the Cardinals this season. He was reportedly held back from returning to the Cardinals pitching staff to be given an opportunity to start after his stint on the IL. His numbers this season haven’t been great. He’s had 3 starts and his numbers include: 11.1 IP with an ERA of 10.32. That probably doesn’t give you the confidence to turn to him. But his numbers have improved. Martinez struck out eight Reds batters in his most recent start. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, they’re 0-3 in Martinez’s starts, losing by at least three runs in each game.
Martinez wouldn’t get the start for me, either.
So we turn our attention to the Cardinals’ opening day closer, Kim. Kim signed a 2-year, $8 million deal this offseason with the Cardinals after he made the decision to leave the Korea Baseball Organization. At the time, the rotation was full with Flaherty, Wainwright, Mikolas, Hudson and Martinez.
He might not have been a starter on opening day, but Kim has proven he can be a dominant starter in MLB.
He’s yet to allow a run in his 24 innings pitched. In his five starts, the 32-year old has thrown 27.2 innings and has allowed just one earned run. That’s an ERA of 0.33. Kim is the first NL pitcher to have 4-straight starts in a season in which he threw at least five innings while allowing three or fewer hits and no earned runs (since ER became an official stat in the NL in 1912), per @StatsBySTATS.
Hudson will get a long look after his dominance and playoff experience. Martinez has the postseason experience in the bullpen with 20 appearances. But Kim unquestionably has been one of the Cardinals’ three best starters this season.
With the season on the line in the First Round of the playoffs, I want to see the ball in Kim’s hands.
AP Photo/Morry Gash