Sunday, April 19, 2015

Catching up with the Cardinals

OK, its been a while.

The problem with any blog, where you're the sole writer, is that often "real" life gets in the way.

So, with all the background noise finally starting to die down some, its time to get caught up with the Cards.

The Cardinals did most of the offseason moves before Christmas, acquiring Jason Heyward (for Shelby Miller) and adding Mark Reynolds to the bench.  Heyward, who hit his first Redbird homer yesterday, seems to be a good fit for the team, while Reynolds gives the Cards a much needed right handed power bat to pair with Matt Adams at first.

Now, 10 games into the season, the Cardinals are 7-3 and sitting atop the NL Central.  However, its not all wine and roses for the team.  Despite the good start, there are some concerns to go along with the positives.

First, lets look at the positive, the pitching.

So far the pitching has been outstanding.  The Cardinals pitching staff sits atop the NL leader board with a  2.00 ERA.  Both the starters (2.02 ERA) and the relievers (1.95 ERA) have pitched well. 

Particularly impressive has been the two starts by Carlos Martinez.  After winning the 5th starter job, when Jaime Garcia succumbed to injury, he has had two straight quality starts, lasting 6 innings in both, while allowing just 7 hits, 4 walks and just 3 earned runs.  He seems more focused this year, which he is dedicating to his departed friend, Oscar Taveras, and the only thing that might hold him down is a innings limit of around 150.

Now for the main concern, hitting.

Sure, the team is hitting .260, good for 4th in the NL, and their OBP of .323 is good for 2nd in the NL.  Yet, despite the ability to get on base, the Cardinals have scored a paltry 41 runs (10th in the league) and have hit just 5 homers (14th in the league).

The Cardinals have not been known for their power hitters, finishing last in homers in 2014, but they were able to get by because of their approach with runners in scoring position (RISP).  However, after hitting .330 with RISP in 2013, that average dropped to just .254 last year, when the team struggled to score runs, and its sitting at just .264 so far this year.

Without any significant power presence and an inability to hit in the clutch, the team could struggle to score runs again this year. 

Overall, I feel confident in the Cardinals pitching staff.  The have a lot of quality arms and some depth in the minors.  The hitting is a concern, but, as we have seen with the Giants, good pitching and timely hitting can carry a team a long way.

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