Going into the 2016 season, the St. Louis Cardinals’ rotation was supposed to be a strength. However, in the first months of the season, it has become a weakness.
One of the statistics that explains this best is FIP. Of the St. Louis Cardinals’ five starters, there is only one with a FIP under 3.00 and that is Jaime Garcia. Garcia who is 3-4 with a 3.59 ERA, has a FIP of 2.82 and an ERA+ of 111. However, Jaime also leads the team with 20 BB,
If Jaime’s numbers are not a microcosm of this rotation, I don’t know what is. While the Cardinals’ rotation isn’t as bad as a Milwaukee or Oakland (two worst teams in MLB), it is not where we thought it would be.
The rotation as a whole stands at 16-18 with a 4.24 ERA. The biggest concern with the Cardinals is their strikeout totals. Currently, the team stands at 6.74 K/9, that is good for second worst in the entire league. That is not good and has led to the team’s performance thus far.
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While Carlos Martinez and Adam Wainwright have the potential to go out and tally up 7-8 K’s an outing, neither have been effective at missing bats thus far. Martinez has seen a decrease in swinging strikes in every single pitch, including his changeup.
Wainwright hasn’t seen that drastic of a change in his swinging strike percentage as Martinez, but he has seen a drop in swinging strikes on his curveball and has seen a slight decrease in just about every other pitch. The lack of swinging strikes has led to both of them getting hit hard this season.
While it may not be that great of a concern for Martinez as his hard hit percentage has only raised by about five percent, Wainwright has seen his rise by slightly under 10%. This is evident in his decreased groundball percentage down to 39% as opposed to his career average of 48.6%. With the lack of K’s and groundballs, Waino has seen his rise above 11% from last season’s numbers.
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In his last outing, Wainwright was much better as he shut the Rockies down over 6.2 innings, not allowing a single run and struck out five. His curve looked like the normal Adam Wainwright curve that we are used to and he just looked better.
Mike Leake has turned things around since his rough start as well, but the early inconsistencies he had did not help this team. If the Cardinals continue to have inconsistencies from the rest of the rotations, they are going to need Leake to continue to improve.
Michael Wacha had a great start to the season and was making me eat crow and making a believer out of me. However, he has not been very consistent this month either. This has led to yet again a rough patch for the Cardinals.
The problem for Wacha is his fastball yet again. Hitters are making contact on his fastball 87% of the time and when they make contact 42.7% of the time it is a line drive. This is not good, and while I thought Wacha may have fixed his command issues, it seems to still haunt him as he is second on the team with 18 BB.
Hopefully, this is just a trend and is something he can fix along the way. The Cardinals need Wacha to improve if the rotation is going to continue the inconsistencies.
As a whole, the numbers here are very concerning for each of the members of the rotation. It is extremely important for Wainwright, Martinez, and Garcia (the three best pitchers IMO) to right the ship and become consistent. With these three anchoring the team and Jhonny Peralta‘s return, we could see a much better Cardinals team.