St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Shelby Miller wipes his face as he comes into the dugout after giving up four runs to the New York Yankees in the third inning at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on May 28, 2014. UPI/Bill GreenblattSt. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Shelby Miller wipes his face as he comes into the dugout after giving up four runs to the New York Yankees in the third inning at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on May 28, 2014. UPI/Bill Greenblatt
A few Friday nuggets for you as I empty out the Moleskine from the past few days at Busch Stadium…
UPDATE (4:15pm) — Randal Grichuk speaks to the media after being recalled from AAA Memphis:
CARLOS MARTINEZ’S STRUGGLES
We have heard “working through it” in terms of a variety of guys this year. The latest are Shelby Miller and Carlos Martinez.
More on Miller in a moment.
Martinez continues to struggle, to live and die by the strikeout to strand runners and get out of trouble. Last night, it didn’t happen. After the game, Mike Matheny said:
“We try to put guys in the right positions, and we go back to some of the good outings we’ve seen Carlos have. Had a little bit of a struggle, made an adjustment, got a little more aggressive early in the count [against the first hitter], a little sharper, and looked like a different guy. A lot like what we saw last season. There are some things that he’s going to have to sort through to get back there.”
A couple of things to unpack here. First, is the issue of Martinez being used as “the eighth inning guy,” regardless of situation and matchups.
Martinez now has 28IP under his belt in 2014, the same number of frames he threw last season.
This year, lefties are hitting a robust .318/.423/.523 in 44 AB against him.
Last year? .326/.373/.391 in 46 AB.
Almost identical splits, with power down. Struggles for Martinez against lefties aren’t anything new. He hasn’t earned the right to be utilizes carte blanche, regardless of matchup.
Martinez faced Gregor Blanco (LH), a PH in Tyler Colvin (LH), Angel Pagan (SH), and Hunter Pence (RH).
Why not utilize Randy Choate? Or better yet, Pat Neshek, who has been nearly un-hittable vs lefties (.105/.190/.105) and righties (.140/.167/.193)?
Just because you have a systematic way to get to the ninth inning doesn’t mean it’s the only way.
And if Carlos Martinez is “sorting through” things, it shouldn’t be against lefties in the eighth inning of a one-run game.
STEALING AGAINST SHELBY
I chatted with Mike Matheny about Shelby Miller’s struggles with base runners this year, and the volume that guys are stealing against him.
This season, runners have successfully swiped 7/9 bases against Shelby in 61.2 innings. For his career, runners have stolen 16/22 bases.
Consider the nine attempts this year. Wainwright (3), Lynn (1) and Wacha (2) have combined for only 6 attempts against them in 217.1 innings!
You can listen to Matheny’s comments about Shelby and the stolen bases below:
THE CURIOUS CASE OF MATT CARPENTER
Finally, some numbers to keep an eye on as we continue to compare Matt Carpenter’s 2014 season to last year. (Numbers per Fangraphs)
Strike Zone Swing %
Outside Zone Swing %
Taking those numbers into consideration, his contact rates are nearly identical. 88.8% last year, compared to 89% this year overall. 95% in the zone last year, compared to 96% in the zone this year.
He actually made MORE contact on balls outside of the zone last year (75.9%) than this year (71.7%.)
Perhaps he is being a bit TOO selective at the plate?
Might be too early to tell, but that is certainly one way you could look at the numbers, especially considering that he is seeing more pitches in the zone (48.6%) than last year (45.6%).
Talk to you on the pregame tonight!
Chris HrabeChris Hrabe hosts "Sports Open Line" on KMOX from 6pm-midnight weekdays, and contributes to St. Louis Cardinals and St. Louis Blues pregame and...More fromChris Hrabe