Monday, September 20, 2004

Upon Further Review

Looking over the just completed home stand, I noticed that the Cardinals looked as if they played ok - on paper.

Offense

The Cardinals hit .268/.349/.402 on the home stand, good for a 751 OPS. That's almost on par with their season averages of .277/.344/.462, 806 OPS, with the letdown being associated with a lack of power. The Cardinals also stole 6 bases, while only being thrown out twice on the week.

Pitching

The Cardinals had a 2.48 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP over the last 6 games. Their season averages are 3.69 and 1.24. If you break it down a bit more, the rotation had a 3.73 ERA, while the bullpen was awesome with a 0.78 ERA over 23.1 innings. The only blemishes on the staff were Jason Marquis and his 5.87 ERA over 1 start, and Jeff Suppan and his 6.00 ERA over 2 starts.

So - the Cards got solid offense, even though it was a bit under their season totals. That is to be expected, considering that one of their MVP candidates was on the bench the entire week. The Cardinals also got pretty good pitching, especially out of the pen. The rotation was ok, getting a quality start out of both Woody and Morris, but with Suppan and Marquis letting the team down.

Why the 3-3 record? I think the biggest culprit is the defense. The Cardinals gave up 8 unearned runs this week thanks to 7 errors. 5 of those unearned runs were given up on Tuesday, and in fact ended up costing the Cardinals the game. (Well, maybe it did - if the Astros were not leading by as many runs, Clemens may have gone deeper in the game, changing the outcome.) The other 3 unearned runs came on Thursday, a game in which the Cards lost by 5.

How do 7 errors and 8 unearned runs over 6 games stack up on the season? Overall, the Cardinals have played 148 games, committing 87 errors and 51 unearned runs. In other words, the Cardinals on the week:

Played 4% of 2004 games
Committed 8% of 2004 errors
Allowed 16% of 2004 unearned runs

So despite outscoring opponents by a score of 26-22, the Cards only went 3-3.

How are the Cards looking down the stretch? Well, not as good as we would like. However, I will suggest that the bullpen is looking very tough, which is crucial in the post-season. I will also point out that Jeff Suppan isn't likely to get a start in the playoffs at this point, let alone 2 over a 6 game period. And the defense is only going to get better as Rolen comes back. I think we'll all feel better, though, if the Cards could put together a solid road trip, winning at least 7 games and taking 2 out of 3 from Houston.

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