Sorry we went all AWOL for a few days. These game analytics are a little more fun when they’re done individually.
At any rate, follow the jump for shotgun analysis of Carpenter’s return to form, Westbrook’s ongoing struggles, Lohse’s dominance, closer controversy, and Pujols-ian slumps.
Also, the Cardinals are above .500; and I’m pretty sure that’s the first time this year.
The Good: Carpenter turned things around after flopping in Arizona (4.0 IP, 8 H, 3 BB, 4 K, and 8 R) and matched Billingsley frame for frame (7.0 IP, 6 H, 0 BB, 6 K, and 0 R). His LA performance was encouraging as the Cardinals will definitely need a healthy, vintage(-ish) Carpenter to stay in this thing without Wainwright.
Boggs nailed down his first save in the wake of Franklin’s demotion. Good for him. It’ll be interesting to see how TLR utilizes his bull pen in the Cincinnati series. I expect to see a heavy dose of Trevor Miller in high leverage spots against Votto… or any other team’s more intimidating left-handed hitters really. And then there’s Miguel Batista, who’s all rested up after not being used in the series against Washington. To date, TLR has called upon Batista in higher leverage situations than Boggs or Motte. Let’s hope that changes going forward.
Pujols hit two more home runs over this four game span. You know, it still doesn’t feel like he is quite right to me, but there he is tied for the team lead in home runs with Lance Berkman (6 each). Dare I say that they won’t be tied at the end of the season..? Because that would mean either really good things for Lance Berkman or really bad things for Albert Pujols. Side note: Pujols slumps better than anybody else.
The Bad: That first chart has the look of a blown game. When the 9th inning started, the Cardinals had an 81.6% Win Probability. Two plays later, Franklin (with a little help from Trevor Miller) lost the game on a home run by Matt Kemp, and St. Louis had a closer controversy on its hands. I’m really hoping to find some time this weekend to take a look at Franklin’s pitch f/x numbers to see if there are any clues about his struggles.
Though two players (Schumaker and Craig) were lost to the DL, their replacements (Punto and Mark Hamilton) are likely a wash. Hamilton is basically the left-handed hitting version of Allen Craig with slightly more plate discipline… and Punto’s defense (historically, he has been a plus fielder at 2B, 3B, and SS) should help make up for his inferior offensive ability.
The Ugly: Westbrook’s start in game 1 of the doubleheader with the Nationals on Wednesday was another dud (3.0 IP, 7 H, 2 BB, 1 K, 7 R). In 2011, his 18.1 innings have featured more walks (6.38 BB/9) than strikeouts (4.42 K/9) and 6.28 FIP/5.18 xFIP. Some of this, however, almost certainly has to be poor luck on balls in play. Behold 2011 batted ball data (against career): 17.8% LD (19.0%), 60.3% GB (58.9%), 21.9% FB (22.1%). He’s definitely been unlucky on HR/FB% (18.8%) as indicated by xFIP. And there doesn’t seem to be any significant dip in velocity. And the P-D’s Bernie Miklasz noted that Westbrook has a history of starting slowly. I’m really not worried about him… yet.
The Impressive: Lohse’s early returns on the 2011 season have been decidedly impressive. He’s now pitched at least 7 innings in every start, most recently going the distance in the finale against the Nationals on Thursday (9 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 6 K, and 0 R). Lohse has been outstanding thus far, especially in regards to his control (6.32 K/9 and 1.15 BB/9); his K/BB rate (5.50) would better his career ratio by more than three strikeouts per walk. While that’s not likely to continue, drastically improved control would go a long way towards salvaging some of that larger-than-desired contract Lohse will be pitching under for the next two seasons. At 31.1 innings, Lohse has a stellar FIP (2.50) though his xFIP (3.05). does suggest that he’s had some luck with HR/FB% (3.8%). He’s already accumulated 1 WAR.
I’m really looking forward to this weekend’s match-up with the Reds. While the Cubs remain the fans’ greatest foe, I’m pretty sure Cardinals’ players would give a different answer.