In case you haven’t noticed, this prodigal son has returned.
My stars of the games votes go for:
- Skip +29.7 win probability added
- Pujols +26.8%
- Lohse +22.8%
This was one of Kyle Lohse’s better starts since signing with the Cardinals, or at the least it was certainly one of his more efficient. He only needed 89 pitches to get through seven innings, and faced just five batters over the minimum. Best of all, Lohse was missing bats; he struck out 8. Coming into this game, Lohse had only struck out 9 of the 97 total batters he faced, and his swinging strike rate was just 4%. For a pitcher whom the Cardinals still owe around $34 million, today’s outing was just what the doctor ordered.
Lohse was on cruise control until the 7th, before he hit a speed bump by giving up a lead-off triple against Jay Bruce. If Colby Rasmus wasn’t napping on his throw to home on Cabrera’s sac-fly, he might have not even scored, and then Lohse struck out the next two to end the inning. This is why I was left scratching my head about why Lohse didn’t come out for the next inning. While it’s true that hitters gain an advantage over the starting pitching as the game goes on, Lohse was dealing. I think it’s pretty clear by the results he had something left in the tank. His velocity was consistent, and he was missing bats with his slider.
Hawksworth came in the 8th and allowed two runners to reach. Dennys “the Human Sweat Machine” Reyes couldn’t get Joey Votto out, who made the game 3-2 on an RBI single, and then was allowed to face Scott Rolen, who hit a game-tying sac fly.
Was this a bad move? There’s a lot of ways to look at this one. The leverage index was 3.5, meaning this was as crucial of a situation you could come across. That’s “relief ace time”. The thing is, with the Cardinals is that there’s no real relief ace in the bullpen, so you’re left with mixing and matching . Bringing in a LOOGY against Votto is probably the right thing to do. I have Votto’s projected wOBA against lefties as .360, versus .392 against right handers. He’s just a good hitter regardless of who he’s facing, but he has enough of a platoon split to go to someone like Reyes.
Having Reyes pitch to Rolen is another matter. The LI bumped up to 4.7, with lefty Jay Bruce on deck. Jay Bruce has a noticeable platoon split; his true ability is .316 versus lefties, .357 versus right-handers, but I have Rolen at .374 wOBA against lefties, .352 against righties. Now if you think Franklin is your man, then let him earn it against Rolen and Bruce. Walking Rolen to get to Bruce would have made the Red’s scoring chances even higher, and facing him isn’t wise, so why not just go all-in with Franklin? Franklin came in a batter late, but fortunately for the Cardinals, the Reds bullpen imploded. After Skip hit a go-ahead RBI against Danny Ray Herrera (a lefty!), the Reds were too scared to throw another strike, apparently, walking the next three batters. Skip’s RBI increased the Cardinals win expectancy to 87%, the three walks increased it another 11%.