The St. Louis Cardinals’ loss in Game 2 of the NLDS was disappointing, but with plenty of series left, what can be taken from this game?
This article is much less fun than the one written on Friday the morning after the St. Louis Cardinals stole NLDS Game 1 from the Braves in Atlanta. With Jack Flaherty coming to the mound in Game 2, Cardinals fans were right to be confident.
Instead of the win that fans expected, we are now forced to sit with the loss for two days before the series resumes at home on Sunday.
In his first career postseason start, Flaherty did a great job, limiting the Braves offense to just one run through 6.2 innings. Unfortunately, Flaherty faltered and gave up a pinch-hit, two-run homer to Adam Duvall in a 3-2 count on his 105th pitch of the game.
Duvall might’ve been in the Minors for parts of the year, but the slugger still has a ton of power and put together an amazing at-bat to finally get Flaherty.
On the other side, Mike Foltynewicz threw the game of his life, pitching 7.0 innings giving up just three hits and striking out seven. This outcome was far from what was expected, but the fault isn’t on Flaherty. Foltynewicz and Duvall stepped up and the Cardinals offense was flat. Haven’t we seen that last part before?
Moving into Game 3, what are some key takeaways?
One weakness exploited
Foltynewicz’s success can be directly attributed to how many off-speed pitches he threw. Of his 81 pitches on the night, 54 of them were off-speed. That’s a whopping 67%. On those 54 off-speed deliveries, he got 13 swings and misses. He did not get a single swing and miss on a fastball all night.
The Cardinals proved all year that they couldn’t hit off-speed pitches, and the Braves exploited it heavily on Friday.
Harrison Bader was especially frustrated as he did not receive a single fastball out of 13 pitches seen all night. He looked visibly frustrated at the plate and struck out in each of his three at-bats.
The Cardinals biggest weakness
With the specifics of not being able to hit breaking balls being one thing, the overall lack of production from the offense is yet another. There is clearly a dichotomy here as there is plenty of credit due to Foltynewicz and the bullpen for the pitching performance, but the Cardinals also just weren’t putting the bat on the ball.
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For a team that has beaten some top-flight pitchers this year but has also been beaten by some of the worst. It’s the same story we’ve seen all year honestly and some fans weren’t the least bit surprised.
This is the postseason though and a disappearing offense can be a knife in the back to any hopes for a trip to deep October.
The lights are not too bright for Jack Flaherty
This is one thing that fans (myself included) were worried about. We had seen the bulldog mentality from Jack Flaherty last year, we saw it the entire second half this year, but the one place we hadn’t seen it was the playoffs. Flaherty is the undeniable ace of this staff and he had stepped up in big games before but nobody knew if he could do it in October.
Flaherty took the ball and squashed any doubts quickly.
The final earned run total of three isn’t necessarily what we’ve seen from Flaherty in the second half, but he gave you 6.2 innings of one-run ball before one bad pitch to Duvall. Have no fear in giving the ball to Flaherty in the postseason.
It wasn’t a fun game, but nobody expected this series to be easy. There’s a day off before the next game and the Cardinals are coming back home. Reset and get back on the right track.