St. Louis Cardinals: Early recommended changes to continue winning

MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 03: Dexter Fowler
MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 03: Dexter Fowler /
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St. Louis Cardinals
MILWAUKEE, WI – APRIL 02: Miles Mikolas /

The St. Louis Cardinals need additional quality starts from their pitchers.

Thus far in the season a quality start seems quite elusive to the starting staff of the St. Louis Cardinals and this will continue to hurt the team. During their winning games, the starters- Luke Weaver, Miles Mikolas, and Carlos Martinez– all pitched at or beyond the fifth inning.

During their losing games, the starters- Martinez, Michael Wacha, and Jack Flaherty (albeit he deserved a win)- the starters had a tough time reaching the fifth inning. Flaherty, however, did complete the fourth inning.

Let’s look even deeper. In Martinez’s first start, he managed to pitch 4.1 innings of 90 pitches. That is far too many for far too few innings. Moreover, only 54 of these were for strikes. In those innings, he surrendered four hits and four earned runs (five total).

Wacha’s losing effort saw him pitching 4.2 innings of 95 pitches. Of these, only 52 were strikes. In those innings, Wacha surrendered five hits and four earned runs (4 total).

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In Flaherty’s losing effort (albeit he didn’t record the loss as this was levied on Dominic Leone following two unlikely back-to-back home runs to end the game), he pitched five innings of 91 pitches. Of those, 57 were strikes. In his no-decision outing, Flaherty allowed one earned run on six hits.

On the flip side, the Cardinals won their first contest of the year behind five innings of Weaver who pitched 92 pitches in the contest; 50 of his pitches were strikes. He allowed one earned run on five hits in his victory.

The second win of the Cardinals season came behind newcomer Mikolas. Mikolas, having eaten a lizard, tossed 91 pitches in 5.2 innings of which 64 were strikes. He allowed four earned runs on seven hits but was saved by an offense that recorded eight runs on 13 hits.

The most recent win of the 2018 season was the redemption- and nearly complete game- of Martinez. In the contest facing the Brewers in Milwaukee, Martinez pitched into the ninth inning at an astonishing 114 total pitches (54 for strikes); astonishing since it is so early in the season.

In looking over these numbers it seems that the Cardinals need their starters to be (1) more efficient, and (2) pitch deeper into games. At the same time, the fact that the starters pitched as long as they did is a testament to the fact that their contests were- perhaps- already lost and no reason to exhaust a bullpen arm?

But the counter to that argument is simply Matthew Bowman who has made an almost daily appearance from the pen throughout this young season.