Tag Archives: Wacha

Wacha Excellent in 1-0 Loss to Philly

Although Cardinal starter Michael Wacha was very, very good last night, the 1-0 loss was the fourth loss in the first five games of the home stand, and the fifth in the last six games.

The team batting totals over the last six games are a little deceptive.  St Louis has scored just 16 runs (2.67 per game) and is batting just .221.  The reality of the situation is significantly different.  It’s considerably worse.  Poor as these numbers are, they are substantially inflated by the 10-run outburst Monday night.  Remove that game from the totals, and St Louis is hitting just .186 (30-for-161) in the “other” five games, with only 2 home runs (they hit five on Monday), 6 runs scored and 54 strikeouts.  They have now been shut out twice in those other games.

Zero-for-three last night, St. Louis is just 5 for its last 26 (.139) with runners in scoring position.  They were also 0-for-7 with runners on base, and are just 12 for their last 74 (.162) with any runners on base.

In a bit of a departure, most of the recent offensive struggles have come against right-handed pitchers (Rubby De La Rosa, Joe Ross, Max Scherzer, Aaron Nola).  Over the last six games, they are hitting .308 (8-for-26) with a .615 slugging percentage against the lefty relievers they’ve faced.  Over that same span, they are hitting .208 (36-for-173) against right handed pitching.

Matt Carpenter led off the game with a double.  This would be the only time in the game that the Cardinals would put a lead-off man on.  That being said, production leading off an inning is on the rise this year.  In 2015, Cardinal leadoff hitters carried an uninspiring .318 on base percentage, scoring 44% of the times that they reached.  So far this year, that on base figure is .377, with the runner scoring 50% of the time.

Howard’s home run last night off Michael Wacha was the ninth served up by Cardinal pitching over the last six games.  During this span, the St Louis starters have held opposing hitters to a .209 batting average (31-for-148), but 14 of those hits have been for extra bases, including 8 of the home runs allowed by the staff.  The opposing slugging percentage against the last six Cardinal starters is .412, and their ERA – despite the low batting average – is 4.39.

This has, in fact, been the recurring image from the recent losses to Arizona, Washington and Philadelphia.  A very credible performance by a Cardinal starter that is decided by a game-changing homer.

Matt Holiday

Matt Holliday’s last walk came in the sixth inning of the April 23rd game in San Diego, 32 plate appearances ago.

Matt Adams

Matt Adams saw 18 pitches during his 4 plate appearances.  But grinding out at bats is still not Matt’s strong suit, as he went 0-for-4 in those appearances.  While Adams is 4 for his last 5 when he hits the first pitch, he is now just 2 for his last 14 (.143) if the at bat extends to a second pitch.

Aledmys Diaz

One of the significant features of this recent downturn is the first protracted slump by Aledmys Diaz.  Off to a record-setting hot start, Diaz was 0-for-3 yesterday with 2 strikeouts.  He now has just 2 hits in his last 18 at bats (.111).  One of the defining traits of major league hitters is the ability to work their way out of slumps.  The next several games will be very revealing about Aledmys.

Michael Wacha

Michael Wacha has now been twice victimized by lack of any run support during the downturn, which started when he was shut out by De La Rosa in Arizona, 3-0.  Over his last two starts, Wacha has given the Cardinals 15 innings allowing just 4 runs on 10 hits (a 2.40 ERA), while striking out 17.  But, eight of the 10 hits allowed have been for extra bases, including three home runs, which have accounted for all the runs against him.

The most significant damage done against Wacha have come of the bats of the left-handers he’s faced in those starts.  Last night, lefties were only 3-for-12 (.250) against him, but that included Ceasar Hernandez’ double as well as the Howard home run.  Over his last two stars, left-handed hitters haven’t hit much against him (.238 on 5-of-21 hitting), but four of the five hits have been for extra-bases, including the game winning home runs by Howard and Chris Hermann.

Right-handers, by contrast, were 2-for-15 last night against Wacha (.133) and just 5-for-31 (.161) over his last 15 innings.

Seven of the eight extra-base hits he’s surrendered have come with the bases empty.  Over his last two starts, once a runner reaches base, the next batters are just 1-for-11 (.091) against Wacha, including 0-for-6 last night.  That lone hit, of course, was the Hermann home run.

Batters who hit Wacha’s first or second pitch went 4 for 12 (.333) with two doubles and the home run.  Batters that didn’t get him early, pretty much didn’t get him.  Everyone else went 1 for 15 (.067).  In Wacha’s starts against Arizona and Philadelphia, batters who reached him early were 5 for 14 (.357) with a .786 slugging percentage.  Thereafter, Michael allowed just 5 hits to the other 38 batters (.132).

De La Rosa Silences Cardinal Bats, Wins 3-0

So, all those excellent situational numbers I trotted out yesterday?  Rubby De La Rosa had an answer for all of them.  The road trip ends 4-3, and home we come to face Washington (who has been shutout in their last two games).  De La Rosa isn’t usually included among the “name” pitchers in the league, but he has been very good his last two times out.

Matt Adam’s 0-for-3, 1 walk night featured him hitting with two-strikes in two of those plate appearances.  Of his 41 plate appearances, Matt has hit with two strikes on him 27 times.  His 65.9% is far and away the highest on the team.  Brandon Moss has the team’s second highest rate, hitting with two-strikes 52.9% of the time (36 of 68).  The issue doesn’t seem to be a problem with passivity.  Of the 27 times this year that Adams has been in two-strike counts, he has swung at at least one of the first two strikes in 26 of them.  In 22 of the plate appearances, he has swung at the second strike, either fouling it off or missing it entirely.  His second inning, 8-pitch at bat last night against De la Rosa is more or less typical.  He fouled off four of the pitches before drawing the walk, including a fastball up and over the plate and a hanging slider.  Last year, he saw two-strike counts in only 46.8% of the time (87 of 186).

Twenty-two games into the season, Matt has only 41 plate appearances and 7 starts (including last night against the right-handed De La Rosa).  The problem could simply be something as simple as timing, aggravated by lack of consistent playing time.  But there is no simple answer for it.  You have to hit to play, so Matt is going to have to work his way through and take advantage of the opportunities that he gets.  Matt is 5-for-12 when he puts the ball in play before he gets two-strikes on him.  He is 3-for-26 (.115) once he sees that second strike.

Twenty-eight times, so far, in Aledmys Diaz’ rookie season he has hit with two strikes on him (including one last night against De La Rosa).  He has struck out in only 3 of those plate appearances (10.7%).  This makes him far and away the hardest on the team to get that third strike by.  The next closest is Yadier Molina who strikes out 25.6% of the time he gets two strikes on him (11 of 43).  In spite of his 0-for-1 last night, Diaz is still hitting .423 (11-for-26) with two strikes on him.

In all, 19 of the 33 Cardinals who came to the plate ended up hitting with two strikes.  Two of them worked walks.  The other 17 managed 2 hits and 11 strikeouts.

Even in defeat, Michael Wacha was very sharp.  Of the 27 batters he faced, he got two strikes on 18 of them (66.7%).  One walked, but only one of the other 17 hit the ball safely – Chris Hermann, whose game-winning home run came on a 1-2 pitch.

Cardinals Fight Past Cincinnati, 4-3, to Win Seventh of Last Nine

With Jedd Gyorko, Greg Garcia and Eric Fryer all starting, yesterday’s lineup looked like it was getaway day.  Continuing an early-season meme, the Cardinals’ bench players led the way.

Eric Fryer

Eric Fryer – thrust into the backup catcher role by Brayan Pena’s injury – put together a 3-for-3 afternoon and has started his Cardinal career with six hits in six at bats.

His second inning double that gave the Cardinals a short-lived 2-1 lead came on a 2-2 pitch.  He is now 3-for-3 in the early going with two strikes on him.  Fryer was also 2-for-2 yesterday and is 3-for-3 on the year with 2 outs.

Greg Garcia

Greg Garcia had the “other” pinch home run the night the Cardinals became the first team ever to hit three pinch hit home runs.  While there has been substantial attention paid to Jeremy Hazelbaker and Aledmys Diaz (who have pushed their way into the starting lineup), Garcia has quietly been a part of the recent Red Surge.  He has 5 hits in his last 8 at bats, including that home run.

Matt Adams

All three of Matt Adams at bats yesterday came with the bases empty.  With his 0 for 3, Adams is now hitless in 7 at bats this season with the bases empty.  He is four for 12 with at least one runner on base.

Matt also lined out to right on a 1-2 pitch in the fourth.  Adams, now 0 for 12, is still looking for his first 2-strike hit this season.

Three pitches continues to be the dividing line in Adams’ at bats.  Hitless in 2 four-pitch at bats yesterday, Adams is now 0 for 13 this season in all plate appearances that have lasted more than three pitches.

Stephen Piscotty

Stephen Piscotty’s 0-for-4 day included three at bats with no one on base and one with one runner on.  Over the last 9 games, Stephen is 5 for 27 with less than 2 runners on base (.185).  He is 4 for 7 including a home run with 2 runners on base.

Stephen, of course, had the big series in Atlanta (5 for 13 with a home run and 4 RBIs).  He hasn’t quite found the range during the home stand.  Playing in 5 of the 6 games so far, Stephen is 4 for 21 (.190) although he did hit a three-run homer against Cincinnati on Saturday that briefly gave the Cardinals a 4-0 lead.

He was also 0-for-2 hitting with 2-strikes on him yesterday.  Stephen is 1 for his last 15 (.067) once he gets two strikes on him.

Michael Wacha

Michael Wacha added a second consecutive quality start since he struggled at Pittsburgh.  In beating Milwaukee and taking a no decision against Cincinnati, Wacha has been touched for one earned run over 12 innings (0.75 ERA).  Even with Adam Wainwright and Mike Leake still struggling, the Cardinals’ team ERA is still 3.56 since leaving Pittsburgh.

Jay Bruce’s infield single was the only hit that Wacha allowed to a left-handed batter yesterday.  Over his starts against the Brewers and Reds, lefties have managed 2 hits (both singles) in 12 at bats (.167).  Overall, Cincy’s left-handed batters went 1 for 9 against Cardinal pitching yesterday.  Since the Pittsburgh series, left-handers are hitting just .207 (24/116) against the Cardinal pitching staff.

Wacha has also excelled with two outs over his last two starts.  Cincinnati was 1 for 7 with two outs yesterday and over the two starts opposing hitters are 2 for 13 once Wacha gets two outs.

Kevin Siegrist

Kevin Siegrist retired all three right-handed batters that faced him yesterday.  Always a difficult at bat for righties, Kevin has held the 14 right-handers he’s faced so far this year to 0 for 14 with 8 strikeouts.

Siegrist has also been death to hitters once he gets them in 2-strike counts, which he did to all four batters he faced yesterday (and to 14 of the 19 he’s faced so far this year).  They went 0-for-4 yesterday and are 0-for-13 so far this season (with 9 of them striking out).

Trevor Rosenthal

Trevor Rosenthal is also unsolved when he gets two strikes on a batter this year.  They are 0 for 12 with 11 strikeouts after he struck out two more in yesterday’s game.

Overall

With two more home runs yesterday, the Cardinals now sit at 21 through 12 games and 427 at bats.  Home run #21 in 2015 came in the third inning of the Cardinals’ 29th game – an 8-5 win in Pittsburgh on May 8.  Matt Holiday broke a 1-1 tie with a 3-run drive against Francisco Liriano.  It was the Cardinals’ 982nd at bat of the season.  Over the 9 games since they left Pittsburgh, the Cardinals are scoring 8.67 runs per game, with a team-wide slash line of .310/.391/.583.  They have 13 in the first 6 games of this home stand after hitting 6 in three games in Atlanta.

In losing 3 games in Pittsburgh, the Cardinals were just 3 for 24 (.125) – all singles – with runners in scoring position.  Since then (and in spite of the fact that they were 0 for 5 in RISP situations last night), the Cardinals have 38 hits (18 for extra-bases) in 99 at bats with runners in scoring position,  Over the last 9 games, the Cardinals RISP slash line is a jaw-dropping .384/.436/.758.