St. Louis Cardinals: Carlos Martinez MUST Start Wild Card
ReAs of Sunday, August 28, the St. Louis Cardinals maintain their position as the National League’s second wild card spot. If the Birds keep this slot, they will play in the win-or-go-home game and all will rest on a single pitcher.
The 2016 St. Louis Cardinals, despite injury and some frustrating performances, currently hold the National League’s second wild card spot. I wrote yesterday that this is the best solution to this season’s performance as the 2016 Cardinals have played better on the road than at home (link below). In the same article, I suggest that Carlos Martinez should be the pitcher. Let’s explore this.
For argument sake, let’s assume the season has finished at the moment I am writing this article. I am writing the article prior to Sunday’s final game in the Athletics series. Having agreed to this, we can now look at each pitcher’s statistics as though the season has completed.
Let’s begin with one-time ace, Adam Wainwright. This season hasn’t been all too kind to Waino who, if the season were ended today, would finish with a season ERA of 4.67 and a record of 9-8. Our co-expert, Steven, recently wrote that we may have seen the last of Waino. In this article, Steven dives deeply into the stats of this rough season for Wainwright and for the St. Louis Cardinals. Go read it.
If the St. Louis Cardinals maintain the second wild card spot, they would play on the road. Wainwright holds a road record of 4-4 and a road ERA of 6.53. I think we can all agree that this is not the arm we want on the mound in the one-game, play-in gamble.
Next up, Jaime Garcia. Garcia is in his final year of his contract and has had a few ups and a few downs this season. The St. Louis Cardinals have not hidden the fact that they will like not pick up Garcia’s $12 million option for 2017. If the season were finished today, Garcia would end 2016 with a 10-9 record and a 4.37 ERA.
Should the St. Louis Cardinals send Jaime to the mound rather than Wainwright? Garcia’s 2016 road record (if the season ended today) is 5-4 with a road ERA of 5.37. This is not much better than Wainwright and doesn’t install confidence from me in Garcia. I would beg that Mike Matheny heed this warning too.
Next up in our review of the rotation is Michael Wacha. Let’s get this out of the way first, we all know that Wacha is currently on the disabled list. If the season were finished today, he would likely not be eligible for the wild card game. That said, let’s look at the data for his “season.” At current, Wacha owns a 7-7 record and a season ERA of 4.45.
Wacha, on the road in 2016, holds a 5-3 record and a 4.04 ERA. This is getting to more agreeable data but is still not the type of numbers that St. Louis Cardinals fans should hope to present in a single game.
Mike Leake, a major frustration for all fans this season, is next under the microscope. Leake, if the season ended today, would finish with a 9-9 record and a 4.56 ERA. Leake would also hold a road record of 7-4 and a road ERA of 4.55. Please, Matheny, do not use Leake in the wild card game.
The replacement for Wacha, Luke Weaver, has a much smaller sample size but for argument sake let us look anyway. If the season ended today, Weaver would hold a 1-1 record and a 3.60 ERA. Having pitched only two games on the road, games against Philadelphia and Chicago, Weaver holds a 0-1 road record with a 5.00 ERA.
The other “next-man-up” is Alex Reyes. The St. Louis Cardinals awarded the starter role to Reyes last nigh against the Athletics for the first time this season. With this extremely small sample size, Reyes holds a 1-0 record and a 0.64 ERA. This single win came not as a starter but as a reliever when he appeared in the game on August 13 against Chicago in relief.
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Reyes holds a 1-0 road record and a 0.00 road ERA. Reyes has appeared from the pen in these road games which is dramatically skewing these numbers. That said, we should urge Matheny to avoid the use of Reyes in the wild card game.
Now to the arm that should absolutely appear on the mound in the wild card game: Carlos Martinez. Martinez is the 2016 ace of the St. Louis Cardinals. Martinez owns a 12-7 record and a 3.13 ERA on the season. Martinez owns a road record of 7-1 with a 2.36 ERA. This is the arm that absolutely MUST take the mound.
Let’s go one step farther, the St. Louis Cardinals would face the Giants if the season ended today. On June 5, Martinez took the mound against the Giants in St. Louis. In this game, he pitched six complete innings, surrendered only four hits, struck-out seven batters, but surrendered three earned runs (and one home run). In the game, Martinez took the win with a WHIP of 1.13.
Here’s a look at Martinez’s numbers when facing the Giants batters:
Thoughts? I feel that these especially relevant numbers show how and why Martinez should take the mound in this must-win game.
Next: Second Wild Card is Best
Admittedly this article assumes that the St. Louis Cardinals will hold their spot in the wild card race and also assumes that the Giants will hold their spot. That stated, should these things hold true, Martinez is the hands-down favorite for this game. The Cardinals, furthermore, should consider extending him now! What do you think?