The best pitches for Cardinals' starters and relievers in 2023

These pitches were the best for the St. Louis Cardinals starters and relievers.

Feb 15, 2024; Jupiter, FL, USA;  St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Sonny Gray (54) during
Feb 15, 2024; Jupiter, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Sonny Gray (54) during / Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports
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Starting Rotation

Sonny Gray: Sweeper

Run value: 19
Usage: 20.4%
Batting average against: .097
# of pitches thrown: 576

Sonny Gray's newly-acquired sweeper was a top-10 pitch in all of baseball last year with a run value of 19. He used it sparingly compared to his other pitches, but its effectiveness was off the charts. Batters hit a meager .097 against the pitch, and he struck out batters at a 53.2% clip when using his sweeper. It averaged a ridiculous 15.6 inches of horizontal movement.

Steven Matz: Sinker

Run value: 8
Usage: 56.1%
Batting average against: .240
# of pitches thrown: 1,046

It makes sense that a pitcher who generates groundballs at an above-average rate would favor his sinker. Steven Matz threw over 1,000 of these pitches last year, and it was his most used pitch. Batters fared pretty well against it with an average of .240, but Matz used it to limit hard contact with an average exit velocity of just 89.6 MPH.

Miles Mikolas: Slider

Run value: 7
Usage: 24.3%
Batting average against: .245
# of pitches thrown: 776

For as ineffective on the whole as Miles Mikolas was last year, his slider was his most effective pitch. He didn't use this pitch to get batters out or generate whiffs, but it was effective at preventing hard contact (88.3 MPH exit velocity). This pitch was Mikolas's third-most frequent offering behind his 4-seamer and his sinker. Outside of his changeup, his sinker was his only pitch with a positive run value.

Kyle Gibson: Sweeper

Run value: 12
Usage: 18.5%
Batting average against: .147
# of pitches thrown: 562

The St. Louis Cardinals targeted pitchers who throw sweepers this offseason. Kyle Gibson increased his usage of his sweeper by over 15% from 2022 to 2023. It so happened to be the best pitch he had last year by a wide margin. Batters were foiled by his sweeper which had over 10 inches of horizontal break. Should Gray continue to lean on his sweeper in 2024, he will experience success on the mound.

Lance Lynn: Changeup

Run value: -1
Usage: 7.0%
Batting average against: .302
# of pitches thrown: 221

After reviewing Lance Lynn's pitch profile using run value, I lost faith in his ability to pitch well next year. Not one of his 7(!!) pitches used last year had a positive run value. His 4-seam fastball, typically his best offering, was his worst pitch according to run value when it used to be his best pitch. Batters smoked Lynn's changeup for a .302 batting average last year, the highest of his pitches. If he can tap into his four-seamer next year, perhaps Lynn can turn back the clock slightly.