The St. Louis Cardinals could be sending mixed messages to pitchers
A former St. Louis Cardinals farmhand called out conflicting pitching philosophies within the organization.
It has become a suspicion among fans that the St. Louis Cardinals are behind the times in how they develop pitchers. The organization's focus on pitching to contact has not led to the results the team has wanted so far, and after Eno Sarris, a baseball writer for The Athletic, pointed out the Cardinals' low ranks in the rotations Stuff+, strikeout percentage, and ERA-, former Cardinals minor league pitcher Paul Schwendel tweeted that the team was giving pitchers inconsistent advice on how to approach hitters.
If the Cardinals, an organization that was once on the cutting edge of analytics, are giving pitchers conflicting advice on what to do in the minor leagues, that is incredibly telling that the team can't commit to an organizational philosophy. Even if the Cardinals now have complete buy-in within the organization on one platform or another, much of the damage might have already been inflicted. Sandy Alcantara and Zac Gallen didn't break out until more forward-thinking organizations traded for them and molded those pitchers into aces.
Another concern is the idea that pitching coaches in the Cardinals organization are or were unfamiliar with a now widespread technology in Trackman. If coaches were only judging pitchers by the eye test, they were missing critical numbers such as spin rate that often predict future success for pitchers.
The Cardinals' insistence on using historical success as a blueprint for current success has come back to bite them this season, and it appears the team was the last to notice. An article in The Athletic (paid subscription required) from Sarris and Katie Woo that was written before the season warned readers about how a pitch-to-contact staff might struggle with the new rules, yet the front office sat on its hands in the offseason when it came to signing or trading for a strikeout connoisseur.
One can cling to the hope that the Cardinals have wised up since Schwendel's departure from the team in 2021 and that the team now has full commitment to and knowledge of Trackman, but the team's relative dearth of homegrown pitching talent in recent years could be a direct result of this inability to relay consistent messages to get the most out of its pitchers.