How the Rotation Carried the Cards thru April


Well, this Cardinals team sure continues to impress us all. After a relatively slow start, the team has really kicked things into gear during the latter half of the month of April.  Now that a full month of baseball has been played, it is safe to say that the Cardinals have responded to their off-season adversity quite well by putting together this current great start to the 2011 campaign. We must keep in mind, however, that though the Cardinals have had a great month so far, the only way to ensure that they are playing in October this year is for the players, coaching staff, and front office to continue to each do their part. Let’s take a quick glance back at what defined the Cardinals April month.

So far in the Cardinals season, minus the hiccups and stumbling blocks that are natural, one major aspect of the club has repeatedly stepped forward in order to propel this team to victory and success in the NL Central. Let’s focus solely on the work done by the starting rotation so far this season.

Perhaps no aspect of this Cardinals team has been better so far this season than the rotation. The work of Carpenter at the top of the rotation has certainly trickled down all the way to the bottom rungs of McClellan and Lohse. In fact, of the five, Lohse probably has the best stats. Of the five, Lohse has the best ERA (1.64), the third most strikeouts (24),  and the most innings pitched (38.1). When you are getting that kind of production out of your number 4, the off-season loss of an ace to Tommy J0hn surgery doesn’t quite sting as much.

But, of course, the other four have pitched well too. The rotation’s combined stats include 114 strikeouts and 13 wins over the April month.

This rotation also has 166.2 innings under its belt in 27 game appearances, making for an average outing of 6.15 innings. In terms of an average among an entire starting five, anything over six innings really is quite good. For a little comparison, the Philadelphia Phillies’ “best rotation in baseball history on paper” has a total of 161.2 innings pitched in 25 game appearances, for an average of 6.448 innings per start, only slightly higher than the Redibirds’ 6.15.

No doubt other factors have been key in the Redbird’s success. The play of key guys like Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday has been huge, and the team’s overall will to win close games has helped as well. But the starters are doing a fantastic job so far this year, and too often the guys on the mound don’t receive as much recognition for their great work.

Hopefully these five guys can continue to put up the numbers and keep giving the Cardinals a chance to win ballgames. I have no doubt that the loss of Waino in the off-season has helped each one of these guys to step up his game and I hope that this trend we are currently witnessing is a season-long one.

The way the rotation is pitching really has had a trickle down effect. The offense has been given the chance to win many games, and overall the team’s confidence level at this point is soaring. This has led to the Cardinals current record of 16-11, placing them at the top of the NL Central and distinguishing them as one of the best teams in the National League as well as all of baseball.

If the team continues to play like this, if I were Albert Pujols at the end of the season, this is the team and the city that I would want to return to.