Game 15

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The Good: The offensive surge continued as Allen Craig provided the fireworks in this one. His 3-run homer in the 5th inning improved the team’s win expectancy by 25.5%. It did my heart good to see TLR resist the temptation to play Berkman’s streaking bat despite his pronounced split (.423 wOBA as LHB; .338 wOBA as RHB). Of course, even his “bad” split is about league average… though it’s been much worse in recent seasons. At any rate, Craig needs at-bats, and this is an appropriate way for him to get them.

The Bad: Again, there just really isn’t a lot of blame to pass around in this one. The worst win probability belonged to Tyler Greene at -.057 WPA, but even he contributed a hit and 2 SB (though he easily could have been picked off on the second one had Macdougal’s pick-off not been thrown to CF instead of 2B).

Gerald Laird’s non-tag at home plate on Andre Ethier was definitely the most baffling play of the game (see it for yourself and enjoy the narration of Vin Scully). Pujols had time to double-pump before making a throw home that still beat Ethier by several steps, but Laird headed up the  line instead of blocking the plate completely whiffed on the tag in the process. It didn’t cost the Cardinals last night… but it a closer game, that could have really hurt.

The Impressive: Eduardo Sanchez struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth to mop up the win. I don’t know if you’re counting (I am), but he’s now struck out 8 of the 11 batters he’s faced. He’s impossibly lowered his FIP to -2.27(!). With this kind of dominance, Franklin’s room for error will be even slimmer in the fans’ eyes. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think TLR is anywhere close to supplanting Franklin in the closer role, but I’m not naive enough to believe that fans won’t start clamoring for this decision given Sanchez’s hot hand. Of course, we’re talking about three innings here. Despite the cause for hyperventilation, he’ll come down to earth at some point.

One more thing: In an unbelievable turn of events, the Cardinals now lead all of MLB in offensive production (.361 wOBA); the Cincinnati Reds come in 2nd (.357 wOBA). See the FanGraphs leader board.

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Like Steve on opening day, I didn’t get a chance to watch game number two (other than the few highlights available at MLB.com). Two games. Two analyses. Zero minutes of actual live baseball watched. But we have numbers… saber-purists here at Gas House Graphs. The win probability table from FanGraphs:


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Cardinals took the lead twice but couldn’t hold off the visiting Padres.

The Good:

Matt Holliday Allen Craig led the team with .151 WPA; his bases loaded single with two outs boosted the Cardinals’ win expectancy all the way up to 74%.

In the third inning, Pujols put the team back on top with a solo home run (.123 WPA), his first round-tripper of the 2011 season; he finished the game with .093 WPA.

The Bad:

Jason Motte pitched 1.2 innings, gave up one hit, walked two batters (one intentional), and didn’t strike out anyone (-.073).

Yadier Molina was 0-3 with a strikeout (-.059 WPA); he grounded out with a runner in scoring position to end the first inning.

The Ugly:

Jake Westbrook only managed to pitch 4.1 innings while surrendering 8 runs, 6 hits, 5 walks, and 3 strikeouts (-.524 WPA).

Commentary:

Considering he coughed up two early leads, this game’s pretty much on Westbrook. When he left the game, the Cardinals’ win expectancy had already dropped to 11.3%.With the extra innings played in the opener, and mop-up duty necessary today, I wouldn’t doubt if the Cardinals decided to call up another reliever (to take Holliday’s place if he’s placed on the DL) as a way of alleviating some of the stress on the bullpen. I’m not necessarily advocating for that, but I can foresee it happening.

Pujols is no longer on pace to ground into 486 double plays

In his first game as Matt Holliday’s substitute, Allen Craig contributed 2 RBIs. I’m sure Jon Jay will be sprinkled in occasionally, but I hope that Craig gets most of the playing time in his absence. Dude can hit (slightly better than .400 wOBA in 871 triple-A plate appearances).

Boggs’ line (3.0 IP, 2 R, 2 H, 1 BB, 4 K) is pretty good other than the home run. How did he look out there? There must be some positive vibes about his back since he was allowed to throw 42 pitches.

Weakened defense has already been a theme in each of the season’s first two games, and the perpetrator was the same as Theriot made another error. Lucky for him, it didn’t cost the team a run. Unlucky for the team, it didn’t matter; they were already down by six runs playing in the second half of the game.

Prediction:

The Cardinals will not lose 162 games this year.

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See what I did there? One of my favorite parts about having a blog is being able to choose titles. You’re welcome for today’s gem. Genius, I know. I thought I’d try something new today. Since Twitter lends itself to spontaneous baseball debates, I thought I’d use a conversation I had with @andrewdmoses regarding his suggestion that Andruw Jones would be a nice pickup for the Cardinals’ bench. You can follow our entire back-and-forth on the subject to the left. If it’s too small for you to read, you should be able to click the picture and access a larger image.
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