St. Louis Cardinals: Pitchers, please stop with the walks
A normally reliable St. Louis Cardinals bullpen has been going through a rough stretch recently. The main culprit: walks.
Have you fully recovered from perhaps the St. Louis Cardinals‘ four most important games of the season? I personally do not blame you if you have not.
Let me be clear and say this year’s Cardinals team has a tremendous bullpen. One that, as we sit here today, is ranked 7th in all of MLB with 4.8 WAR. It is a definite improvement from last year’s bullpen.
In the bottom of the 9th on Thursday, Carlos Martinez walked Nicholas Castellanos, who led off the inning. You most likely have heard about the dreaded lead-off walk, or perhaps how lead-off walks always score. Now while that is not always the case, it is a free base runner inherited without the batter doing anything.
Last Sunday, in what I consider the biggest gut-punch loss of the season, normally-reliable John Gant issued three walks with a one-run lead against the Brewers to load the bases. Despite Gant’s strikeout of Trent Grisham and Tyler Webb getting Mike Moustakas to fly out to center, all three runners came around to score on Ryan Braun’s grand slam.
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From September 11th through today, the Cardinals’ bullpen has ranked third to last in WAR with -0.3 WAR. Despite being around the middle of the pack in K/9 and BABIP, the Cardinals are one of four teams with a BB/9 over six.
That is higher than teams with 90-100+ losses such as Detroit (5.77 BB/9), Baltimore (5.14 BB/9), Miami (3.22 BB/9), and finally Toronto (3.21 BB/9).
Perhaps this is just fatigue setting in. The season is almost over, and the Cardinals survived the Dog Days of August. However, this is an inopportune time for the bullpen to lose command.
With now a three-game series at Arizona, and another series with the Cubs at Busch to finish the season, the bullpen has to cut down the walks. If not, we could be in serious trouble.