Cardinals: Paper cuts, missed opportunities, other Opening Day Reactions
By Josh Jacobs
The pitching got very unlucky but still needs strikeout stuff
If you look at the box score, it looks like the Cardinals’ pitching was awful today. In reality, though, the Cardinals experienced death by a thousand paper cuts, mostly pitching well but continuously getting beat by blood singles and ground balls that found their way through the infield.
That’s not how most games go.
If the Cardinals’ had gotten beaten around by hard-hit balls, extra-base hits, giving up a ton of walks, or huge blasts from the Blue Jays thumpers, I would be writing a letter to John Mozeliak myself to say they need pitching ASAP. In all reality, I was pleasantly surprised by the way the club navigated the Blue Jays lineup, and felt like they could have easily given up three or four fewer runs.
Would you believe the Cardinals’ pitching staff struck out more batters than the Blue Jays today? The Cardinals got eleven Blue Jays out on strikes Thursday, while Toronto pitchers sat down just six Cardinals via the strikeout. The problem for St. Louis is nothing new though – they need to find a way to strike out guys in big spots, such as when runners are in scoring position. The Blue Jays put so many balls in play today, and when you do that, good things tend to happen. Jordan Walker was taken advantage of in right field today, misplaying a few balls and making some bad decisions with his throws into third base and home.
Had Mikolas not experienced the level of “unluck” he had today and gotten through more than 3.2 innings, the bullpen would have had a lot less strain on it. Covering 5 and 2/3 innings in a game is no small task, and the bullpen handled the job well for the most part, experiencing a lot of the same “soft-contact” issues.
Here’s the rub. Three of your best relievers, Andre Pallante, Jordan Hicks, and Ryan Helsley, combined to face nineteen Blue Jays, striking out just one of them. You cannot get by the late innings in today’s game without finding a way to generate swings and misses.