Three observations from the St. Louis Cardinals 4-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday. You can see the series finales by purchasing tickets from dodgerstickets.org.
Matt Holliday is a second-half player
If the past two games are any indication of what to expect from Matt Holliday in the second-half of the season, then Cardinal fans are leaping for joy. On Friday, Holliday knocked in all three RBIs and tallied on a homerun as the Cardinals knocked off the Dodgers 3-2. Yesterday, Holliday drove in two more runs with a double before having to leave the game for a concussion as the Cardinals held on to win. Currently, Holliday leads the team in RBIs as well as OBP with a .374 percentage. Cardinal fans may remember that last season Holliday had a monster second half as he posted a .348/.442/.552 line in leading the Cardinals to the post-season. Many have been clamoring for the Cardinals to trade for a bat to help their sputtering offense but the solution may be in house. If Holliday can put up numbers even remotely close to the second-half numbers he had last year, the Cardinals offense will be receiving a huge boost.
Joe Kelly’s start was surprising
It wasn’t that Joe Kelly was so good last yesterday that was surprising; it was the fact that was he lasted seven innings. In his 36 career starts, Kelly has only completed seven innings twice. This is a bit surprising given how good and reliable Kelly has been for the Cardinals. Last season, Kelly was 10-5 with a 2.69 ERA in 15 starts and this year he is 2-1 with a 2.61 ERA in five starts. With numbers like that it is odd that Kelly hasn’t gone deeper into ball games although he is prone to walking batters which may be the cause for his shorter outings as they rack up his pitch count. On another note, does anybody see the return of Kelly from the DL coupled with the arrival of Carlos Martinez in the starting rotation as the writing on the for Shelby Miller? I wrote about Miller’s lackluster performance in my First-Half Awards segment yesterday, but if Michael Wacha returns to full health Miller would almost definitely be the odd-man out of the starting rotation. I think Martinez’s enticing arsenal of pitches along with the fact that he has pitched reasonably well for being a rookie starter would lead Mike Matheny to keep him in the lineup given Miller’s recent struggles. Matheny has already sent Miller to the bullpen as a favorable schedule has given the Cardinals a chance to utilize a four-man rotation while they wait to see if Wacha can recover from his odd injury. While all of this depends of Wacha’s health, Miller might be a name the Cardinals are shopping around with other clubs as potential trade bait for another bat in the lineup.
Pat Neshek is really good
This might be the most obvious observation in the history of the “Three Outs” segment. After Sam Freeman relieved Joe Kelly yesterday, he promptly walked a batter and allowed a double to place runners on second and third with no outs and the Cardinals up 4-1. Matheny quickly pulled Freeman for Pat Neshek who gave up a sac fly to Carl Crawford to make the game 4-2. Yet, it was the next two batters where Neshek showed just how deadly he can be. Neshek struck out Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez, two scary power hitters, to end the threat and secure the Cardinals win. Neshek’s funky delivery paired with his tailing fastball makes him a nightmare for opposing hitters. With Neshek serving as the set-up man for Trevor Rosenthal, the Cardinals have one of the most deadly combos in the back of their bullpen in all of baseball. Without Neshek, the Cardinals bullpen faced a lot of questions without Kevin Siegrist and a recovering Jason Motte. Neshek has answered all of those questions and more for the Cardinals as he continues to have a career