The offense is going through a mini-slump, and for the most part, the Cards pitching has not picked them up. Until last night, Jason Motte has continued to throw fastball after fastball, refusing to use the cutter that helped guide the Cards to their 11th World Series Championship in 2011. Last night was almost another example, but then Motte and Yadier Molina changed their game plan.
With 2 runners on that both singled off of fastballs, the AL BA leader (.366) Paul Konerko came to the plate. On a 3-1 count, Konerko was doing what most players have been doing on Motte all year, sitting dead red. Instead of giving him the heat, Motte threw a cutter that caught the outside corner, Konerko tried to pull it, and the Cards get the 5-4-3 DP to end the game.
In the 15 pitches Motte threw last night, 11 were fastballs, with 3 cutters and 1 changeup. I think we can call this progress. Maybe it took Bernie Miklasz to finally go off on a rant about Motte and his fastball the other day. Whatever his reasons are for deciding to use his cutter again, I hope they’re here to stay.
The final game against the Indians was another example of Motte refusing to use his secondary stuff, at least until it was too late. In a 1-1 game in the 9th, Motte threw 17 straight fastballs, with the 17th being a 3-run HR that gave the Indians the 4-1 win. The final two batters in the top of the 9th were then struck out on a changeup and a cutter.
The opposition will continue to wait on that fastball from Motte that doesn’t have much movement, and often lacks location. Like I said before, I’m still not sold on Motte being the closer. However, if he will start using his cutter more often and quit being so predictable with his pitch selection, he should have enough success to continue in his current role.
Lance Lynn became the second pitcher to get to 10 wins last night, tying R.A. Dickey of the Mets. While wins and losses don’t always tell the whole story, in this case they do. Lynn’s line is something no one would have predicted before he became a starter. In 13 starts over 81 and 2/3 innings, Lynn is 10-2 with a 2.42 ERA, 86 K’s and a 1.09 WHIP. Lynn already has a WAR of 2.3, and is on pace to pass Adam Wainwright’s WAR of 2009 and 2010, when he had a 6.0 and 5.9.
On the subject of Wainwright, it does appear he’s coming around. He shouldn’t have received the loss the other night. If David Freese takes care of the routine DP, it might have been a different outcome. Still, we’ll all take 2 ER’s in 7 IP every time out from AW.
Even at 32-31, the Cards are still only 3 games behind the Reds. At some point, a team is going to separate themselves from the pack with a run. If the Cards can get the offense, starting pitching and bullpen clicking at the same time, they have as good a chance as any team with the talent they have.