The St. Louis Cardinals were absolutely embarrassed on Monday night by the Chicago Cubs in their home stadium. I was left with many questions related to Matheny’s managerial decisions throughout.
We all know- or should know by now- that I am not a Mike Matheny supporter but his boneheadedness was grossly on display during Monday night’s rout of the St. Louis Cardinals at the hands of the Chicago Cubs. In fact, I found myself venting my frustrations to the Twittersphere in a series of questions.
Before diving into those questions, let me tell you that I watched last night only fleetingly. In fact, I listened to the majority of the game just so I wouldn’t have to endure the utter shame of it all.
Let me also admit that I wanted the Cubs to lose so much more than I have ever wanted in my life. This is no hyperbole. After Ben Zobrist released the statements that he did about wanting to pop champagne at Busch, and the subsequent quote from Tommy Pham, I desperately wanted the St. Louis Cardinals to play spoilers.
And they did- in fact- play spoilers just not to the team I had hoped. Instead, the St. Louis Cardinals and Mike Matheny played spoilers to their own fortunes.
For those who don’t know, I have urged that the St. Louis Cardinals part ways with Matheny and have coined a Twitter hashtag to exude these emotions: #muckfatheny. Anywhere you see this hashtag, you should understand that the time is ripe to prune the dying vine.
First up, Luke Weaver. I really like Weaver and think that his future is bright. I am worried that Matheny and company will tarnish this shine and will ruin his future. Example A was last night.
In my opinion, once Weaver started experiencing difficulties against the baby bears in the first inning, his night should have been done. I understand pushing him to close the frame but I do not understand sending him back out for the second or third inning. Not at least when the Cardinals’ season is on the line in EACH of these final games.
Weaver’s first inning looked like this: K, single, walk, line-out (2 outs), 2-out-single (bases loaded), 2-out/3-RBI double, 2-out/1-RBI double, coaching visit (sign of trouble), K. Things had escalated quickly. With the season on the line and with the Cardinals facing an early 0-4 deficit, I thought the pen should have been activated and quickly at that.
This was not the case. Matheny decided- I can only assume- that either (1) the pen had been used too much of late, and/or (2) he believed that Weaver would right the ship and settle down. A 4-run deficit is not insurmountable (at least not with earlier iterations of the St. Louis Cardinals; might not be so true for the 2017 version).
Weaver’s second inning was better. Sort of. It went like this: K of Jon Lester (does that even count?), ground-out, 1-RBI home run (ouch), and fly-out. So far on the night, Weaver had surrendered five hits that accounted for five runs. This simply cannot happen with the Cards against the ropes.
Yet, Matheny decided that a third inning was in store for Weaver. Tsk, tsk, tsk. Weaver’s third inning was painful and was when I turned things off (sort of). It went like this: single, force-out, line-out, walk, 2-out/3-RBI home run, fly-out. Thanks to Matheny’s long leash, the St. Louis Cardinals were looking down the barrel of an 8-1 deficit.
Next up, Jack Flaherty. I like Flaherty a lot. I think Flaherty is the pitcher of the St. Louis Cardinals future. But like Weaver before him, I fear that Matheny and company will spoil the good.
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Flaherty entered the game in the top of the fourth inning replacing Harrison Bader who was the pinch hitter for Weaver when Weaver’s spot came up in the bottom of the third. It seems that Matheny was content to leave Weaver pitching until his batting spot came around (dumb move).
Flaherty had the exact opposite luck facing the top of the order for the Cubs in Jon Jay, Zobrist, and Anthony Rizzo: he went 1-2-3 as my tweet above illustrates. 1-2-3. That hadn’t happened all night.
Forgive me if I’m dense, but wasn’t Flaherty used as a starting pitcher in the minors? Isn’t the plan for him to be a starter in the majors? And yet, Matheny used Flaherty last night for a 1-2-3 inning (good for Flaherty) and then sat him. No second inning.
Unless Matheny has intentions of using Flaherty in a starting role before the season ends on Sunday (yes, it looks very likely that the Cardinals will be finished as of Sunday), then Flaherty should have at the least be given one more inning.
Next up is Matt Carpenter. Why the h*ll was he starting in Monday’s game facing Lester? Lester owns Carpenter. Period. Prior to Monday’s game, Carpenter was 6-for-41 with zero home runs. 6-for-41 but by all means, Matheny, put him in the lineup.
Now, thanks to a rough outing against Lester (something no one saw coming), Carpenter is 6-for-48 with zero home runs and a miserable slash line of .136/.188/.205.
Hold onto your hats as Carpenter has equally appalling numbers against Jake Arrieta who is Tuesday night’s starter for the Cubs. Facing Arrieta, Carpenter has gone only 2-for-35 in his career. Time will tell whether #muckfatheny shows up again.
[Writer’s note: by the time I published this work, the lineup was released and wouldn’t you know that Carpenter is back in the lead-off spot… ignorance!]
Next up, Yadier Molina. In the top of the seventh inning, down still 8-2, Molina took two foul tips directly off the catcher’s mask completely rattling him. Upon the second hit, Matheny removed Yadi from the game stunned. It was reported that Yadi vomitted after leaving the field and underwent concussion protocols.
As was stated in my tweet, if down this much with the whole season on the line and with only nine outs with which to play, why was Molina still in this game? Wouldn’t a seasoned manager have interest in protecting and resting the franchise player?
Look, I get it that Matheny could not have predicted the two foul balls but I’m arguing that the score alone should have been cause to remove Yadi.
Let me wrap up this rant…
This was less a question and more a forehead slap followed by, “…I should’ve had a V8” moment. If you weren’t keeping score at home, just look a few paragraphs north of here to see that I thought that Voit should have played at first over Carpenter.
Would he have hit a home run earlier if he had been playing? Maybe. And maybe not. But in the one at-bat when Voit appeared he managed to hit the ball (and hit it far by the way). I know we cannot say that about Carpenter in Monday’s game.
Now that the lineup has been released, I must shout and yell that surely Voit has insulted Matheny’s grandchild for again he is absent from the starting lineup. What is going on in Matheny’s head? Does he not look at numbers? Why is Carpenter starting against Arrieta?!
Hold onto your pants, St. Louis Cardinals fans, as a win tonight by the Cubs will have them popping that prophesied champagne that we all do not want to see. Or do we? Can we fire #muckfatheny if the Cubs get to celebrate on the mound at Busch? I hope so…