St. Louis Cardinals: Four moves to get Cards back in the NLCS

ST LOUIS, MISSOURI - OCTOBER 12: Atmosphere of Busch Stadium is seen during game two of the National League Championship Series between the Washington Nationals and the St. Louis Cardinals on October 12, 2019 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MISSOURI - OCTOBER 12: Atmosphere of Busch Stadium is seen during game two of the National League Championship Series between the Washington Nationals and the St. Louis Cardinals on October 12, 2019 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /
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St. Louis Cardinals
ST LOUIS, MO – SEPTEMBER 29: Jack Flaherty #22 of the St. Louis Cardinals returns to the dugout after recording the final out of the in the third inning against the Chicago Cubs at Busch Stadium on September 29, 2019 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /

Pinch-hit for the starter sooner

This rule will depend on the score. But if you are not healthily in the lead, and your pitcher has between four and six innings under his belt, don’t give Washington a free pitcher’s out. You have to trust your bullpen more than your offense at this point.

To consider the immediate efficacy of this, let’s look ahead to the next two starters. Jack Flaherty was 0 for 5 with a walk in the NLDS. Flaherty for his career is slugging .189. Dakota Hudson, who is starting game 4, is career-slugging .077! Those are almost sure outs.

I know it is pitiful to have to count a couple of pitcher at-bats as crucial to a team’s offense. And it can cause major heartburn if either Flaherty or Hudson are dealing to take them out. But that is pretty much what the Cardinals are down to against the highly motivated Nationals who have never been to an NLCS and are tasting the city’s first World Series appearance in almost 100 years.

I might add that the Post-Dispatch’s Ben Frederickson is making a good case that Shildt sticks with his pitchers a little too long anyway, compared with his rival Dave Martinez (and Tony La Russa!).

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