As Trevor Rosenthal took the mound to begin the ninth inning, it marked the fifteenth game this season that a Cardinal pitcher has stood on the mound in the ninth inning of a tied ballgame. And when Trevor blanked on Jose Reyes’ bouncer to first base, leading to the deciding infield single in the 3-2 Met victory yesterday (box score), it marked the eleventh of those 15 games that Cardinals have ended up losing. It is the kind of thing that has happened so frequently this season that it is difficult to be surprised by it anymore.
Beyond their persistent trouble holding onto leads, Cardinal pitchers trying to keep the game tied in the ninth inning have a 5.40 earned run average. As much as anything else, St Louis’ unsolvable ninth-inning issues have kept this team from challenging for the division title.
With their second consecutive loss, St Louis is now a distressing 22-26 in games after a loss and back to .500 (8-8) for the month.
News Not All Bad
As disappointing as it is to leave New York with a 2-2 split after winning the first two, the Cardinals do head into the final stop of their road trip with the starting pitching starting to re-calibrate. With Lynn’s effort last night, Cardinal starters have recorded quality starts in 6 of the last 9 games, posting a 1.98 ERA and a .237 batting average against. In their last 54.2 innings, they have walked just 12 batters (1 of those intentional), so the on base percentage against the Cardinal starters over the last 9 games is a negligible .281. The home run off the bat of Lucas Duda was only the fifth off a Cardinal starter over the course of those games.
Starters are now 8-5 this month with a very solid 3.49 ERA and only 23 unintentional walks in 90.1 innings.
In the midst of this little revival has been Lance Lynn, who has put together three brilliant starts in a row. In fact, Duda’s home run was the only run scored off Lynn in his last three starts (covering 19.1 innings – an 0.47 ERA), a spell that has also seen him allow just 14 hits and 2 walks. The batting line against Lance over those games has been a miserly .203/.225/.275. Lance hasn’t walked more than one batter in any of his last 5 starts, and his ERA for the month of July has tumbled down to 1.09.
Over the course of his career, Lance has pitched 82 times in a game after a loss – 67 of them as a starter. He is 37-21 lifetime in those games with a 3.50 ERA.
It does seem like every time I recognize stellar effort from one of the members of the bullpen, they immediately surrender critical runs their next time out. Nonetheless, Matthew Bowman has been terrific lately. He has thrown 10 straight scoreless outings (totaling 7.2 innings), during which he’s holding batters to a .185 average. He has walked just 1 batter in his last 14 games, and hasn’t allowed a home run in 16 games (covering 12.1 innings). He has stranded all of the last 13 runners that he has inherited.
Matthew has also been one of the positives in games after a loss. Yesterday was the 24th such game that he has pitched in (totaling 18.1 innings). He holds a 1.86 ERA in those innings, with a .214/.263/.261 batting line against. Last year, he had a 2.61 ERA in 31 innings in games after a loss.
After climbing to the role of closer on the strength of a 15-game scoreless streak, Brett Cecil has given up critical runs in 2 of his last 3 games. He has also now pitched in 26 of the Cardinal games following a loss, serving up 3 home runs in 22.1 innings in those games with a 4.03 ERA.
And now back to Rosenthal. Over 6 previous games, only 1 of the 19 batters to face Trevor had reached base (on a hit by pitch). But Trevor walked the first man he faced. Walks are a certain indicator that bad Trevor has shown up today. Trevor has pitched in 41 games. He has walked batters in just 9 of them. In the 9 games in which he has walked batters, Trevor has a 10.80 ERA, with a .333/.516/.381 batting line against. In the 32 games in which Trevor hasn’t walked a batter, his ERA is 1.33 and the batting line against him is .151/.158/.226. When Trevor starts walking batters, get him out of there.
Not much went right offensively for the Cards yesterday, but Tommy Pham was a highlight. He drove in both St Louis runs with a double and a home run. Pham has hit safely in 8 of his last 9 games, hitting .429 (15 for 35) and slugging .771 (3 doubles and 3 home runs. Tommy is hitting .367 in July (22 for 60) and slugging .683 this month (5 doubles, 1 triple, and 4 home runs). He has driven in 15 runs in 16 games this month.
Tommy is also now hitting .336 this season (39 for 116) in games after a loss. His 39 hits include 8 doubles, a triple, and 6 home runs. Playing in just 34 of the team’s games after a loss, Tommy has scored 24 runs, driven in 24 runs and slugged .578.
Like Pham, Greg Garcia added a couple of hits yesterday (the rest of the team totaled 2). Greg has only played in 10 games this month – starting just 5 – but he’s off to a .300 start (6 for 20).
A couple of the Cardinal rookies are starting to struggle a bit for the first time. Luke Voit was 0 for 3 yesterday. He is now 3 for his last 16 (.188) over his last 7 games.
Paul DeJong has skidded even worse – 3 for 26 (.115) over his last 6 games, with 12 strikeouts and 2 runs batted in. It’s a league of adjusting, and any player’s sustainability is dependent on how quickly he can adjust.