We Didn’t Play As Well As The Cardinals

A season is 162 games, so there can be many lows. In April, we were behind by as many as 3 1/2. Then after taking the division lead on May 2nd, they would lose it again by the end of May. Then we were up 3 1/2 again on June 25th, but would lose 4 straight, 6 of 7, and 8 of 10 through July 14th. On July 27th, we were 2 1/2 games back. We’ve lost 3 straight 9 times, including 4 straight 4 times. You get the idea.

We’re a very flawed team. We’re relying on a bullpen with little recent track records of success and health. The starters, before this season, hadn’t inspired much confidence. Remember, our staff ace was taken to arbitration because he wanted $2.4M and the Braves thought he was so unreliable that he was only worth $2.3M. One of our starters was released in Spring Training by the worst team in baseball. And so on and so forth.

This game was a lot of what we’ve seen recently. The starting pitcher pitched well enough to win and somehow avoided issuing a free pass, so that was great, but little else was. Ronald Acuna provided the only run, though Freddie Freeman is starting to get hot again. The bullpen gave up 5 ER in 3 IP. And while some fans are clamoring for the pitching prospects to be included more consistently in the relief game plan and for Sam Freeman and Luke Jackson to stay far from it, it was Freeman who put out the fire and Bryse Wilson reignited it as he got knocked around in the 9th.

One big problem is that the bullpen is hot garbage right now. The bullpen ERA for September is now 5.67, and we are using an average of 4+ relievers per game. 6 guys have exceeded career highs in appearances. And the theory that we were uniquely positioned to provide reinforcements that other teams could not couldn’t have proven to be any more untrue. For two different reasons, the starting pitching prospects have not helped. One has been ineffectiveness; Wilson and Max Fried have pitched very poorly, and Allard probably would be if they used him. One has been lack of use; Kyle Wright has only given up 1 R in 5 IP but has been used once in the last 12 days.

We need a win today. We need to win 2-3 of the remaining 7 against the Phils, and we need to take at least 1 against New York. If we can do that, then we’ll probably be ok. If you had predicted this team to have been .500 for the season, you would have been ridiculed on this website, I assure you. So enjoy that your team has a division lead in late September, because you could be cheering for the Mets.

77 thoughts on “We Didn’t Play As Well As The Cardinals”

  1. Breaking this site is easy. Apparently easier than using YouTube’s share and embed feature that literally provides you with the code that will avoid breaking this site…

  2. Not to be guilty of cap-tipping, but the Cardinals were 22-6 last month, though they have faltered some this month.

  3. I get that it’s more work, but if you click the “share” button on the YouTube video, and copy the embed code into the comments, it works fine on desktop, though it looks a little big on mobile.

    New theme in the offseason, so bear with me.

  4. https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/ronald-acuna-is-one-of-the-best-players-in-baseball/

    Acuna singled, getting enough of a pitch high and tight. It wasn’t a batted ball that’s going to show up on any Ronald Acuna highlight reels, but a plate appearance isn’t just about how it ends — it’s also about how it gets there. Acuna is showing increasing command of his at-bats. Acuna is now consistently in control, less than five months removed from his big-league debut.

  5. I saw the push to start a conversation about Snitker in a previous thread. That struck me as odd because:
    1) it’s plain that he doesn’t have much to work with in the bullpen
    2) you’d think AA would then be more worthy of blame, as the guy who had the decision-making power and the resources to spend on a better bullpen. Brach has been better than I thought he’d be, but that didn’t do the trick.

  6. Rob…

    thanks for showing up and getting things restarted. This shop must always remain open.

    Touki, today, tomorrow, always.

  7. I want to see Touki start a few more times. If he keeps on pitching like this I think he will be a better option than either Newcomb or Teheran in the post season.

  8. THAT’S the team I know and love. Small ball at it’s best. Run the bases. Score on a wild pitch. Steal home. That and the occasional HR from our big hitters (i.e. Freddie and Ronald) really is this team’s character and how they should be playing all the time. That and some decent pitching.

    That’s how we’re going to win this game and that’s how we’re going to win in the playoffs. It’s the magic formula.

  9. @29

    the smiles persisted throughout the at bat and after..

    graciously initiated by Osuma at his inability to hit Touki’s stuff.

  10. @34 Agree. Camargo has not been looking good since his return; he’s swinging wildly at times. In his last AB last night, he didn’t even look like he was trying. And another 3 K’s today.

  11. Chip and Joe are not annoying at all regarding all the Mike MAyers references… Poor Paul Byrd inbetween those morons.

    Argh, Chip is so annoying making a lazy flyout sound like it may drop.

  12. Glory be. A reliever pitched a truly clean 1-2-3 inning. I had lost hope that it was possible.

    If Biddle had gotten some calls last night, he might have thrown a 1-2-3 and the game might have ended differently.

    Still could use some more runs……

  13. I think the concern about the bullpen is well-placed. As a unit, I really don’t trust the pen right now.

  14. And with that said, I don’t know if I would throw a whole lot at the pen in the offseason unless you could trade for a cost-controlled relief ace. I think a lot of these guys are just wearing down over the long season. Even a couple days off between the end of the regular season and the beginning of a potential playoff series would be big.

  15. I think most people (me included) have said that if we win the division, everything else is gravy, and we’re not expecting a whole lot (though we’re willing to be pleasantly surprised, and come see me again if we’re up 2-0 in the Division Series or something) in the way of a playoff run.

    So yeah, the concern is well-placed…like, if the bullpen is pitching like this we have almost no shot to win a playoff series. But it shouldn’t stop us from getting there, so let’s do that for right now.

    Because I hate to tell you, there’s not a whole lot that can be done at this point to shore up the bullpen for the playoffs. Even if we went out and randomly traded for or signed a guy right now, they’d be ineligible for the playoffs anyway.

  16. @46 The only thing I could see is pitching Wright a little more. If there’s a scenario where we clinch and we decide not to consider Touki for postseason starts, have Wilson take his starts and let Touki pitch out of the pen. But we’re running out of time. People can say that we’re not that good because the division is terrible, but the division being this far back could afford us some opportunities to try things out we couldn’t do otherwise if we were in tighter races.

  17. Damnit. THROW STRIKES!!! If DeJong gets up, kiss this game goodbye.

    He finally threw a changeup and it worked. That has got to be some sort of clue.

    Throw the changeup more!!!

  18. Man, I know Flowers is a great pitch framer but damn would I hate to pitch to him. He moves around so much while the pitcher is about to release, he doesn’t set a clean target at all, and that can’t be helping. I just saw him literally have to use his mitt to keep himself from falling over as he moved to one knee as Minter was in his motion. That’s terrible form.

  19. Minter all of a sudden got effective the instant he started throwing his changeup. That last pitch to DeJong, he threw everything he had to get it up to 97. He really needs to throw cutters and changeups and the occasional FB rather than all FB/Cutter.

  20. If Thor can beat the Phils tonight then we could be ecstatic with a split with the Phils. That would basically end it.

    Touki was pretty great but he seems to tire after about 85-90 pitches.

  21. Interesting thing about this win was that 4 guys who have carried us at times ( Acuna, Markakis, Camargo, and Albies) were a combined 0 for 13. As has been noted, Freeman heating up is nice.

  22. Post Season

    Sanchez
    Folty
    Touki
    Gausman

    In that order…A little birdie told me…no names please.

    Pulled after 2 max if they don’t have it.

  23. @53

    I’ve thought that during this whole bullpen downturn. I noticed during the Arizona heart attack series that both our catchers insist on setting up so that the target is on an extreme corner of the strike zone and I wonder if it would be better if they just set up in the middle of the plate. I think it contributes to the nibbling and trying to be way too fine with pitches. Especially in innings like that where you have a 4-run lead.

    Anyway, thank God we won! Magic number: 6!!! Woohoo!!! And so forth.

  24. Whatever starter(s) we put in the pen in the postseason, we should let them get some work there next week.

    We also need to get Vizy into some games. He could be the key

  25. Following up on my previous post, I think they basically just need to simplify the whole thing. Flowers and Suzuki are playing three-dimensional chess while the pitchers are playing checkers right now. Set up in the middle of the zone, pitch to the pitcher’s strengths (I’d pretty much entirely give up on worrying about the hitter’s weaknesses right now until we can actually start throwing strikes), and if something isn’t working, stop doing it. Case in point, the fact that Minter throw approximately 20,000 cutters there in the ninth, and I don’t think one of them was a strike. Why would you keep calling that pitch? And don’t be afraid to try and get a first-pitch strike. We seemingly never get first-pitch strikes. Throw one in the freaking zone! If they hit it, they hit it, but we can’t keep falling behind every single hitter.

  26. They’re going to start resting people after the division is secure? Seems almost more important than a better record for home field at this point, especially considering this team’s best-in-the-NL away record.

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