Cardinals StatCapZach Gifford | THE INTREPID STL

photo by @cardinalsgifs

Last week, I thought the Cardinals were going to get back on track. Instead, they played four games against the Reds and lost them all, but then three against the Phillies and won them all. I’m still not sure what to make of this team, but the most likely reality is that they’re a .500-ish club. If so, they’ll probably be “in the race” all year. To make the playoffs, though, you have to make a positive, sustained run at some point. We’ll see.

The Cardinals blogger game was this weekend, which meant I didn’t do much research for this on Saturday or Sunday. With the team off today and 6+ hours of baseball tomorrow with the doubleheader against the Brewers, I’ll keep this short.

Carlos Martinez lights up the ninth.

On Saturday, Carlos Martinez completed his first career complete game and shutout. While that’s extremely notable itself, he also threw his fastest pitch of the day and second hardest pitch of the year on pitch number 101 in the ninth inning.

St. Louis Cardinals StatcapZach Gifford | THE INTREPID STL

Martinez cracked 100 mph while notching his eleventh strikeout in the ninth inning. If it seems like you’ve never seen a starting pitcher throw this hard this late, it’s probably because you haven’t:

And not that it really matters, but Martinez has a 2.11 ERA and 2.76 FIP in eight games since getting rid of those extensions. That’s 5th and 12th best among all starters with 20 innings since May 1st, respectively. He’s also hitting .263 with 6 RBI since the haircut, too. Without his own work at the plate, his 3.62 runs of support per start (8th lowest in the NL and 13th lowest in MLB) would look even worse.

Tommy Pham’s dive ends the Cardinals slide

There have been rumblings today that Randal Grichuk will return to St. Louis soon, and that he might play over Tommy Pham as soon as he’s back. Pham might lose playing time despite being the Cardinals 2nd most valuable position player by WAR and most valuable on a WAR per plate appearance basis.

When Pham has played this year, he’s played well. This included the Friday night opening against the Phillies, when Pham went 2 for 4 with two singles and made this game saving catch.

Pham was well positioned, made a quick break and covered 50 feet in 3.4 seconds. With a catch probability of 29%, it was Pham’s first four-star catch of 2017. Based on the numbers that have been publicly released, this is the toughest catch made by a Cardinals outfielder in 2017, topping this catch by rookie Magneuris Sierra about a month ago.

 

Thanks for reading. I should have more next week, but in the meantime look out for some launch angle and spin rate analysis, complete with thoughts and quotes directly from John Mozeliak.