I think it’s time to say the 2012 Cardinals have some issues. The offense keeps producing, but the bullpen keeps blowing up. The starting pitching hasn’t been great lately, but has kept the team in enough games that should have been won. The one run losses continue to mount, where the team sits at 2-7. They are also 3-11 in games decided by 2 runs or less.
The health of the 2012 Cards was thought to be the biggest question heading into the season. Allen Craig is on his second DL stint, Jon Jay is a big question even if he comes back because it’s a shoulder injury, Chris Carpenter may not pitch this year and Lance Berkman is now likely done for the season with an ACL tear according to Joe Strauss. The MRI to confirm that is scheduled for this morning. Something appears to be wrong with David Freese as well. His swing is so far out of sync lately that he doesn’t look like the same player at the plate. More than likely with Freese, it’s just a slump. Carlos Beltran isn’t running in RF very well because of lingering knee issues. Even with all these issues, the Cards continue to score, and the bullpen continues to be the biggest problem.
The good news for the offense is the Cards have some depth. Matt Adams kicked off his MLB career with a hit in his first AB last night and finished 2 for 4. I’m not sure who the Cards think they are fooling by listing him as 230 pounds, but he does seem to have quick feet at 1B, and I’m excited to watch him play.
There are a couple of ways to look at what’s going on lately. The Dodgers and Braves both swept the Cards, but they both lead their divisions. The Cards are still a half game up on the Reds in the NL Central. It’s possible the recent play could be a bump in the road, and it’s possible this is a pattern that’s going to make the fans endure a long season.
Marc “Scrabble” Rzepczynski has now given up as many HR’s this year in 15 innings as he did in all of 2011 combined with the Cards and Blue Jays over 62 innings (3). All 3 have given the other team the 1 run lead that would hold up for the 1 run win. On April 24th, Bryan LaHair hit a walk off in the 9th for the Cubs. On May 11th, Dan Uggla put the Braves up 6-5 in the 7th, and last night Scott Van Slyke hit his first MLB HR in the 7th to put the Dodgers up 6-5. I’ve said it before, I don’t like Scrabble pitching to righties. His .207 BAA against them is deceiving because of all the blowout wins.
I’m not picking on Scrabble, there’s plenty of blame to go around in the BP. What was thought to be strength is now something you hope you don’t have to see. Losing Kyle McClellan wasn’t that big of a deal, considering he’s never been the same since returning to the BP after being a starter early last year. There is a ripple effect happening because of the loss of C. Carpenter in the rotation. Yes, Lance Lynn has looked great in the rotation, but that left a hole in the setup role. That setup role is now being passed around like candy and blasted like a piñata.
What’s happening now is the reason I was bitching even when the Cards were on a roll. The games they pissed away could have given them a cushion to deal with injuries and cold stretches. If the offense starts to go cold, the real trouble begins. After this next series, a little more than the one quarter mark of the season is over and we can start looking at advanced statistics a little more closely and calling them patterns.
For now, let’s just look at the most disturbing one, which is the Pythagorean winning percentage, which says the Cards should be 26-15. It’s based on runs scored and runs allowed. In most years, for most teams, this will line up in the end within a couple of games of where the team actually finishes. Last year, the Cards were 90-72, and it had us at 88-74. One thing this stat doesn’t take into account is a bullpen that can’t pitch under pressure. I don’t think the Cards will make any changes to the bullpen soon, so the Cards are going to live or die with what they have. Hopefully it will get turned around.