Ten games into the season, the Cards have been held to less than four runs just twice. Last year this happened 79 times (48.8%) last season.
With 6 more home runs yesterday, your St Louis Cardinals have now drilled 17 in their first 10 games and 357 at bats. The team slugging percentage now sits at .521. In 2015 they didn’t manage their 17th home run until game #25 – Mark Reynolds first inning grand slam off of Travis Wood that trimmed a 5-0 Cub lead to 5-4 in a game St Louis would eventually win 10-9. This was May 4th occurring on the Cardinals’ 839th at bats of the season. That was also the first home run hit by a Cardinal against a left-handed pitcher last year.
Brandon Finnegan’s start today is the first by a left-hander since the first two games of the season. Left-handed pitching has long been a soft-form kryptonite for this organization. Last year, we made some progress against lefties, going 25-18 against left handed starters, but only managed a .230 team batting average against them.
Much of the difficulty has been finding right-handed batters that can solve lefties. Last year, only one right-handed batter (Randal Grichuk) with more than 100 at bats against lefties managed a batting average north of .250 – Grichuk hit a “robust” .265 against leftie that included 6 home runs and a .522 slugging percentage. Stephen Piscotty and Tommy Pham came along later to hit .322 and .278 against lefties respectively, but all the rest of the Cardinal right-handed bats managed just a .226/.312/.365 slash line against lefties.
In the early going, we haven’t done too badly. Three home runs and a .256/.347/.430 slash line isn’t record-breaking, but pretty good for us. Among the right-handers having early success against lefties are Aledmys Diaz, 3 for 7 with a home run; Jedd Gyorko, 2 for 5 with a home run; Piscotty, 3 for 8; and Ydier Molina, 3 for 9. Our other homer against lefties belongs to lefty Jeremy Hazelbaker (who is 3 for 5 against them).
Finnegan, the Cincinnati lefty that we’ll see today, isn’t of the caliber of the Kershaws and Bumgarners that we will face later on this year, but it will be instructive nonetheless to see how they manage against him.