Cardinals Last Spring Training Game - Pic 57

Image by BattlefieldPortraits.com via Flickr

Last week, I expected McClellan’s rotation conversion to be official before I had a chance to produce the third installment of this series. While that hasn’t happened yet, Joe Strauss confirmed that the writing is on the wall:

If he works like a starting pitcher and his schedule gets rearranged like a starting pitcher, then Kyle McClellan is finally a starting pitcher, even if his manager withholds final approval.

And Rick Hummel concurred:

Manager Tony La Russa, asked if McClellan would be in the bullpen March 31 on opening day, replied “no.”

This is as much an admission as La Russa will give that McClellan, who has given up one run in 17 innings this spring, will be starting the fifth or sixth game of the season.

As if it weren’t clear enough already, Lynn, Dickson, and Valdes were assigned to minor league camp today. Continue reading »

Kyle McClellan

Image via Wikipedia

As detailed last week, I’ll be monitoring the competition for the fifth starter spot. Here are the ERAs for the contenders in week number two:

  • Kyle McClellan – 1.29
  • Lance Lynn – 5.14
  • Adam Ottavino – 0.00
  • Brandon Dickson – 7.50
  • Bryan Augenstein – 1.50
  • Raul Valdes – 12.00

The Cardinals threw me a curve ball by scrimmaging the Braves in a B-game on Wednesday, March 9th. Since the data from that game was not made available through Gameday, most of the players were minor leaguers, and the numbers were not even included on players’ overall stat lines at MLB.com, they aren’t represented in the graphs here either.

Derrick Goold provided us with the following numbers:

The lines for the pitchers:

Snell … 3 IP, 2 H, 0 BB, 1 K, 2 groundouts.

Valdes … 2 IP, 1 H*, 0 BB, 0 Ks, 3 groundouts.

* Infield hit that ricocheted off of him.

Ottavino … 2 IP, 0 H, 2 Ks, 0 BB, 2 groundouts*.

* One on a bunt back to him.

Today, Strauss narrowed the competition:

La Russa initially claimed 6-7 arms were in the fifth starter competition; however, two of those, P.J. Walters and Adam Ottavino, were optioned out of major-league camp Friday. Prospect Brandon Dickson remains after laboring through a three-inning appearance March 8 against the Boston Red Sox.

That still leaves us with five of the six names we’ve been monitoring: Kyle McClellan, Lance Lynn, Brandon Dickson, Bryan Augenstein, and Raul Valdes. Since Ottavino is no longer being considered by the club, he will not appear in the graphs below. The good news is that he still has a proud mother who loves him, as evidenced by her comments in last week’s installment.

Remember, all of these numbers are subject to small sample size and not necessarily indicative of players’ true talents. All of these pitchers are pretty close together in skill, and their opportunity to win a spot in the rotation is based on a very brief window of observation. Such is the nature of Spring Training.  Onwards to the graphs… Continue reading »

Dave Duncan

Image via Wikipedia

The contenders’ ERA at the end of week one:

  • Kyle McClellan – 0.00
  • Lance Lynn – 0.00
  • Adam Ottavino – 0.00
  • Brandon Dickson – 3.00
  • Bryan Augenstein – 2.25
  • Raul Valdes – 12.00
  • Shelby Miller – 0.00

I spent some time tracking numbers in MLB’s Gameday feature to bring you the following graphs. I plan on recreating them once weekly until a fifth starter has been declared. It might be fun to see how the graphs transform between weeks… and to see how opinions/impressions change… not that I’d ever make a decision based on Spring Training performance. Never! But, in truth, this might be one of few (only?) scenarios in which it might be acceptable to evaluate players on small sample size performance. Would you argue that any of the candidates, in their short careers, have clearly distinguished themselves as the superior option? As Steve showed in an earlier post (Internal Options), the projection systems have lumped these guys together, none offering much more than the other. The Cardinals need a guy to step up and rise to the occasion. The opportunity is there. Maybe this can serve as motivation that allows one contender to reach a new level in his game. Continue reading »

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