Reason for optimism for the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals starting pitching staff

I’ve read and heard a lot of rumors on Bernie’s radio show in the last week or so.  Most of them seem to involve Juan Uribe, Stephen Drew, and Colby Rasmus.  It appears from the comments of John Mozeliak that he is not going to trade Colby unless he’s completely blown away by an offer.  It also appears that if an upgrade is to take place in the middle infield, it will be Brendan Ryan and not Skip Schumaker being replaced.  One of Mo’s comments suggests that LaRussa is behind Skip, and it looks like the Cards believe he will come back closer to the .302 and .303 averages he had in 2008 and 2009.  While I think it would be a mistake not to give Brendan another shot correcting his offense, I’ll put my faith in the front office this year considering they did a very smart thing in bringing back Jake Westbrook in my opinion. 

Maybe the reason for keeping Skip and replacing Ryan is because they feel that at shortstop they are targeting someone who is going to be a speedster that takes care of leading off and playing great defense. Maybe the plan is thinking Skip will hopefully come back to a .300 average out of the 7th or 8th hole in the lineup.  If that’s the case, I think it would be wonderful.  So until we know for sure, I’ll concentrate on what I feel is going to be the main strength of the club, the starting pitching staff.

So, while the offense is in need of a few upgrades, or better performances from what we already have, the pitching staff appears to be set.  Here is a look at the pitching staff and their 162 averages throughout their careers:

PlayerGSIPSOW-LERAWHIP
Wainwright
2719816415-82.971.20
Carpenter3322016715-93.801.28
Garcia2918214214-92.961.32
Westbrook3120311312-124.291.37
Lohse3319111911-124.791.43

That’s 67 wins from the starting pitching if they stay healthy and have their career averages.  Now, let’s take a look at each pitchers best year:

Player/YearGSIPSOW-LERAWHIP
Wainwright-201033230.121320-112.421.05
Carpenter-200928192.214417-42.241.00
Garcia-201028163.113213-82.701.31
Westbrook-200430215.211614-93.381.24
Lohse-20083320011915-63.781.30

4 of the 5 starting pitchers have had the best years under Dave Duncan.  I also wouldn’t doubt that Westbrook has numbers similar to his 2004 numbers under Duncan this year.   In his brief time with the Cards in 2010 he put up a 3.48 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP, which is as close to repeating his 2004 stats as he’s come.  I’m pretty excited about this rotation for next year for a number of reasons. 

For one, hopefully they won’t be giving away games early because of the depth.  Dave Duncan thinks very highly of Kyle Lohse, pointing out recently that Lohse was 3-0 before getting injured in 2009.  Duncan also suggests that, and I have to agree with, that the 2010 season for Lohse was his spring training.  The fact is, Lohse’s surgery is something no one really knows what kind of success or failure will come from it.  His injury was usually experienced by distance runners and motocross riders.  I think if healthy, he will get it done in 2011.  Duncan could just being saying these things to keep negativity out of it, but he strikes me as a straight shooter. 

If Lohse is healthy and just pitches a career average line, he’ll get a lot of wins as the # 5 starter if we score runs.  Another thing I like is that we give Lance Lynn and others another year to develop at AAA Memphis.  And with these players locked up, it keeps Shelby Miller from being rushed.

The only thing I don’t like about the stats above is the 162 average from Chris Carpenter.  He’s clearly been a great one since putting on the Cardinal uniform, and his years from the Blue Jays averaged in doesn’t show the pitcher he is now.

If the Cards all equal their 162 average, that’s 67 wins from the starters.  If they all matched their career years, that’s 80 wins from the starters.  Hopefully we’ll at least be in the middle of that, somewhere around 73-77 wins from the starters.    To put that in perspective, the World Champion San Francisco Giants received 62 wins from their starters in 2010.  The Yankees got 75 wins from their starters, and the Rangers had 62.  While there are many factors involved in pitchers win total, and run support being a major one, you have to like the Cards chances if all remain healthy.  The bullpen should be well rested as well.  Hopefully we won’t have games where guys like Blake Hawksworth and Adam Ottavino struggle to get through 5 innings.  Again, Lohse is an unknown, but the Cards have to take the chance with him considering the money he’s owed.

I’m still waiting for the Cardinals 2011 projections to come out, but you can’t factor injury into that.   You can in some sense, but anything can happen to anyone at anytime.  The loss of Brad Penny and Lohse derailed 2010.  If the Cardinals pitching staff stays healthy, things look to be on the bright side. It appears that Cards projections for 2011 appear to come out on December 6th.

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