Tag: carlos martinez

Finally, Jaime Garcia is back in postseason action

Jaime 2015It’s been a long time since Jaime Garcia has been healthy when the playoff started. Four years to be exact. I’m sorry, but 2012 doesn’t count. When Jaime Garcia took the mound in an NLDS game against the Washington Nationals, lasted less than 3 innings, got hammered and informed the press afterwards he had pitched hurt. That wasn’t as shocking of a revelation as Manny Pacquiao saying he fought Floyd Mayweather Jr. with a bum rotator cuff but it was enough for General Manager John Mozeliak to question Garcia’s loyalty. The next two seasons Garcia made a total of 16 starts and zero playoff innings.

Flash forward to this weekend and Garcia is ready to give the Cards a dose of nasty on the mound against the Cubs or Pirates in the NLDS. He doesn’t have to hide an injury this time. Just be deceptive enough to cause hitters to go insane at the plate trying to guess where his next pitch wants to dance. This Jaime Garcia is a far better pitcher than the young one who took the mound in the memorable Game 6 against the Rangers in 2011.

In every way, Garcia was more efficient in 2015 and harder to hit. His fielding independent pitching was 3.01 and his ERA+(which adjusts it for a player’s ballpark) was 162, which is 62 points above average. Garcia was good on the road, at Busch and anywhere else the Cards needed him to pitch. This is a guy who doesn’t need a lot of pitches to break a lineup. He doesn’t induce 7 foul balls in an at bat like Lance Lynn or struggle with his location like Michael Wacha. Garcia’s pitches have so much movement that hitters have zero clue which pitch is coming or where it will end up. His ERA of 2.43 and WHIP of 1.05 is filthy and among the best in the league. Once an risky gamble of talent, Garcia looms as one of the best kept secrets in October.

Is he pitching differently? Yes and no. In 2011, Garcia relied on his four seam and two seam fastball along with his slider and changeup. His slider got the most whiffs per swing while his two seamer did damage as well. In 2015, he is relying on that slider to collect a high whiff rate and throwing his fastball. Over the 2015 season, Garcia has thrown his fastball an average of 26 percent while relying on his two seamer and slider. Garcia isn’t throwing the curve a lot in 2015, but hitters are swinging and missing on it when he does choose the bender. As the season has gotten older, Garcia has used his changeup more as well. If there is one change between 2011 and 2015, it’s the higher use of his four seam fastball to go with his regular two seam heater attack. When he throws off speed, it appears as a golf ball to hitters.

Call it older age and higher knowledge or a more adept sense of his craft, but Garcia is a different pitcher right now and it’s exciting to watch.

A healthy Garcia gives the Cardinals a unique weapon in the playoffs. A guy who can pitch anywhere and carries a huge chip on his shoulder for time lost. While Garcia is still only 29 years old, he has to feel like his career is just beginning and there’s a lot to prove as the Cards varied assortment of young pitching filters through. Pitching that is cheaper and more flexible in their options than his own plans. 2015 may not feel like the final stand for Garcia in a Cardinal uniform to fans, but for Garcia it’s a chance to bury the hatchet.

For the first time in four years, Jaime Garcia is a legit playoff weapon for the Cardinals.

Research courtesy of Baseball Reference and Brooks Baseball

Looking back on the 2015 St. Louis Cardinals

Piscotty injuryAs a general rule of thumb, sports fans shouldn’t take anything for granted when it comes to their teams making the playoffs, but the Cardinals make it hard to be civil in that area. For the fifth straight season, the Birds on the Bat will enter the playoffs. Second only to the New York Yankees in playoff wins since 2000, the Cards begin another round of October action as a top dog, the only team with 100 wins.  The hunt for a 12th championship begins on October 9th so what do you do until then? Talk about playoff rosters and look back on the season that got us to this moment. I’ll save roster talk for Sunday or Monday. Now I want to look back on what just happened…in the last six months. Ready or not, here I come.

*Mike Matheny solidified himself as Manager of the Year. I don’t care about narratives, storybooks or whatever jargon his critics will drudge up. Matheny’s work this year was tremendous. Not only did he win, but he did so in the most improbable manner possible. Yes, he plays his guys like Jon Jay too often and weighs too hard on his closer Trevor Rosenthal, but the job that Matheny did under the circumstances is more than admirable. It needs to be teachable. With his training room full of veteran limbs seeking care and the Memphis roster being emptied on the big league club, Matheny pulled the right triggers in directing his team towards a triple digit win season. If wins aren’t the standard that a manager should be weighed by, I am not sure what system you are running. If it’s the trust a player feels in his leader, Matheny led in that category back in 2012. In his 4th season, Matheny had to dig deep, do a lot of patchwork and find a way. He did.

*Injuries. In other words, the medical attention this team needed and how it didn’t seem to affect the box score. 2015 will be marked by the blows this team took and its ability to keep moving forward. I’ve overused the Rocky analogy but it just fits this Redbird team. They lost their ace pitcher in Adam Wainwright three weeks into the season, lost their starting first baseman, starting left fielder, starting centerfielder, and parts of their bullpen and just kept moving forward. How do you define resiliency in baseball? The ability to collects results no matter what gets thrown in your direction. This is no fairy tale. This was a boxing match and the Cards won by a landslide on points. They slipped the jab, moved around the ring and kept their feet moving for the entire fight before dropping the hammer in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

*The year that Jaime Garcia finished a season healthy. He didn’t get going until late May and missed a few starts in June with a muscle pull, but Garcia endured and pitched the best ball of his career. The 20 starts mark the most he has put together since 2012, but look at the difference in performance. In 2012, his WHIP was 1.36. In 2015, it was barely above 1.00. In 2012, he was worth 0.6 Wins above replacement. In 2015, he was worth 3.9 WAR to the Cards. An ERA that was 3.92 in 2012 shrunk to 2.43 this season. The new Garcia brandished a healthy shoulder as well as a more efficient pitcher on the mound. The last time the lefthander entered the playoffs, he was hiding a bum shoulder that would self destruct in the series against the Washington Nationals. This fall, he enters as arguably the Cards nastiest pitcher. A weapon instead of a liability.

*John Lackey turns back the clock and redefines home cooking. Lackey put on a show from early June through the rest of the season, but his work at Busch Stadium was unreal. Posting a 1.93 ERA at home in 17 starts, Lackey gave the Cards league best rotation a little extra grit and pitched above his preseason expectations.

*Carlos Martinez goes from “5 inning emotionally unhinged guy” to arguable ace inside six months. Martinez stepped up in more ways than one in 2015, becoming one of the team’s most steady arms and enjoying a stretch of 11 games of consecutive quality starts. He won 14 games, struck out 184, and pitched 179.1 innings. His season was cut short, but he proved that he belongs near the top of this rotation and not as a #5 guy. If he keeps getting better, Martinez is going to be a handful for years to come.

*Matt Carpenter puts together another quiet MVP type year. The man exploded out of the gate in April and May only to severely stumble in June and July. Where Carp goes, the offense goes with him. When he returned to the leadoff spot on July, Carpenter collected four hits(2 home runs) and reminded people that sometimes conventional wisdom doesn’t apply to athletes. While it would be easy to assume he could hit anywhere in the lineup, Carpenter does prefer the leadoff spot and the stats backed it up. In the second half, Carpenter has hit 19 home runs and slugged .592. An on base specialist for his life, Carpenter has hit 28 home runs and smoked 44 doubles in 2015. He’s scored 101 runs and drawn 81 walks to go with the eye opening strikeout total of 151. With a bigger stick comes a higher probability to miss, so I’ll take the K’s with the extra power. On a team that struggled to exhibit power, Carpenter has supplied the most from the leadoff position. After a midseason swoon, he found his stoke in a big way.

*Jason Heyward answers the bell and fulfills the promise. He came to the team nearly a year ago in the wake of Oscar Taveras’ passing, and was ridiculed in April when he started off with a chill in his bat. From May 1st, Heyward has been steady at the plate and a renegade in the field. Heading towards another gold glove and owning 9 assists(all that seemed to be game changing plays) in right field, Heyward leads the team in overall WAR and versatility. He may always let the HR/RBI baseball card mafia down, but when it comes to all around game and the ability to change it, Heyward fulfilled the promise of the winter preview. The team would be smart to sign him.

*Yadier Molina works wonders behind the plate again. Sure, his bat may not exhibit the power Yadier displayed in the past, but he still drove in 61 runs and handled this MLB best pitching staff. When it comes to catchers and WAR, the measurements aren’t fair or detailed enough to truly show how important Molina is to this team. So you look at catcher’s ERA, which is the average the pitcher has when Molina is behind the plate. Molina led the National League with a 2.79 CERA and caught 41 percent of potential base stealers. With all the injuries and newcomers to this staff and balancing it all, Molina showed once again why he is so valuable.

*The rookies make a dent. Randal Grichuk could have been an easy rookie of the year candidate if he doesn’t get injured. His 47 extra base hits still rank among the leaders in rookie hitters. Stephen Piscotty joined the team in late July and has done nothing but hit since he arrived. The sacrifice fly against Atlanta in July. The 2 run double off the Cubs in early September. Piscotty and Grichuk combined for a highly impressive season that gave the Cards a much needed boost. Tommy Pham finally made an impact in the second half and has put himself in roster contention. The next man up method is so memorable due to guys like Piscotty, Grichuk and Pham.

There are others. Trevor Rosenthal had a great season, slashing 20 points off his WHIP while saving 48 games. Kevin Siegrist turned into a dynamic setup man and a workhorse. Kolten Wong’s sophomore season had its up and downs but he still has 43 extra base hits. Matt Holliday’s power numbers were down in an injury shortened season but his OBP is still potent. Lance Lynn suffered a few bumps in the road down the stretch but still gave the Cards another durable solid season. Jhonny Peralta’s production didn’t dip much from 2014, even though his second half wasn’t the best.

In a season that seemed more rockier than the record actually showed due to injuries, the Cardinals showed why they are so tough and will be for years. They react instead of panic.  They didn’t make a big midseason trade or enjoy a smooth ride this season. They didn’t have a 30 HR/100 RBI guy or two. They couldn’t hit at times. They made a lot of games close and painful. They emptied their Memphis roster. In the end, they won 100 games. While the Mets and Blue Jays had to trade their way to an improved roster, the Cards relied on their internal methods like they always do and come into the playoffs stronger than ever.

While fans shouldn’t expect this to happen every year, it’s hard to not think of October baseball without the Cardinals coming in as favorites. It’s as likely as Pumpkin Spice Latte’s brewing at Starbucks and leaves growing on trees.

Relax. Leave your nails alone. Save your stress and anxiety for next weekend when the real games start. The hunt for the World Series. The quest for 11 wins begins on October 9th. Are you ready? The Cardinals are and this month should be another memorable run.

Five ways to look at Carlos Martinez’s injury

Fox Sports
Fox Sports

The news is in. Carlos Martinez, the hot young phenom starter for the St. Louis Cardinals, is done for the season. The shoulder tightness that pulled him from Friday’s start has also cut his season short. When the 24 year old phenom left the field in tears, something bad was in the forecast. Something only an athlete knows right away. Your body flashing a check your engine light.

I don’t need General Manager John Mozeliak to use crayons and draw it out for me. Martinez is done not only for the regular season but postseason too. With ten days left in the season, the chances of Carlos coming back in early October are slim to fuggedaboutit!

As we digest this unfortunate news, I’ll provide a few reactions.

*Adam Wainwright will not start now. He isn’t conditioned to start after not throwing to hitters until this afternoon. It’s just not possible. That opportunity is gone. Waino at best will be a reliever.

*The doubt is eliminated from Lance Lynn’s playoff rotation future. It was looking cloudy for the up and down starter. Same for Michael Wacha. Each starter had been rocked hard. The page is turned with Martinez’s injury. Both these have been there before, good and bad. They are ready. I think Lance Lynn starts game 4 on the road.

*Tyler Lyons will get another start and it could fall on the final day of the Pittsburgh series. A potential big day for the journeyman arm to solidify his playoff chances. They could let Waino grab a couple innings that day but I doubt it. It will most likely be Lyons and Carlos Villanueva.

*If this is the end of the line for Martinez, what an entry into the land of major league starters. A bright future lies ahead for this man and that’s part of the reason you shut him down today and cut short his 2015 contributions. He’s young, raw and has never approached this amount of innings. The innings load may have simply worn down his right arm and shoulder. The hope is nothing lingers. No surgery is needed so Carlos can just come into spring and go right at it. He threw 179.2 innings, compiled a 14-7 record and struck out 184 batters to 63 walks in 29 starts. He finished with a flurry in September before the injury.

*The Cards can handle this folks. The 2015 team are built for rough cracked roads and uncharted waters. They have won 97 games without starters all over the field. This setback won’t slow them down. Martinez’s fire will be missed but he will still be around, building cups and smiling. The team will be hindered yet trudge on. They’ve been doing it all year.

Feel sad about the loss of one of the most exciting pitchers in the game but also know the Redbirds have this covered. If this injury manages to cripple them, this display of resilience will be all for nothing. There are 8 games left in the regular season. Then, it’s the fight to 11 wins and a 12th championship. While he won’t see the end, Carlos Martinez helped team get there by blowing everybody’s expectations out of the water. From a maybe 5 inning guy to arguably the ace of this staff. What a season. It’s been cut short but that doesn’t mean the sweetness of his season loses any of its flavor. The future of Carlos Martinez is too valuable to risk for one postseason.

As they say, play ball. That’s all you can do in this game.

The Lance Lynn experience

I’ll be honest. Watching Lance Lynn pitch isn’t easy.

LynnWhen I think of Lynn on the mound, I think about Joe Cocker’s classic tune, Have a Little Faith in Me. Every time he throws 30 pitches in an inning, it plays in my head. Every time a hitter fouls off continuous inner half fastballs, it plays in my head. Have a little faith in a man known for throwing primary fastballs towards the plate for 6-7 innings every 5 days. Lynn doesn’t wish to fool hitters and that’s why he’s a hard pitcher to watch. He takes the mound, gets the ball and changes speeds on the dial of his heater for a couple hours. He may mix in a curve or a change, but they are salad dressing on his chef salad assortment. He lives and dies by his four seam fastball and two seam cutter.

In 2015, it’s been a struggle for Lynn, especially in the second half. In his last 7 starts coming into today’s tumultuous match at Wrigley, Lynn’s ERA was 5.70 with 18 strikeouts and 17 walks in only 30 innings with a WHIP of 1.77. You can’t chalk that up to a lack of run support or who is catching Lynn behind the plate. That is a lack of effectiveness from a starting pitcher who turned a corner in 2014 with a brilliant second half ERA of 2.22 after experiencing setbacks in previous closing season grinds.

Friday, Lynn walked six in 3.1 innings against the Cubs, allowing 3 earned runs and 3 hits with 77 pitches thrown. 77 pitches for 9 outs. The Wrigley start epitomizes a rough bookend for the veteran righthander. When you look at his 2015 opening start at Wrigley(6 innings, 1 earned run, 87 pitches) and the September 18th start, it’s hard to not notice the stains on the window of his season.

Is something wrong medically with him? Is it the notorious blister on his pitching hand? Is it a groin injury? The ankle turn he dealt with in August? Hard to tell. His velocity doesn’t appear to be diminished but the performance just hasn’t been there. Is it fair to have faith in Lance Lynn, defend him, criticize him or outright bash him at this point?

For now, hold the bashing and the brick wall defense and be worried about this recent trend because time is running out. This is rough but can be turned around with a couple efficient starts. After Carlos Martinez suffered a rough patch, he bounced back. Can Lynn do that? Why not? This isn’t exactly Don Draper drinking stupor territory but it’s also just baseball related stumbles.

The six month grind can get a pitcher. After he exited the game, Lynn unleashed a verbal tirade on the home plate umpire for a zone he didn’t like. You just don’t see that from the man. He may shout, scream and show emotion on the pitching mound but rarely loses it on an umpire once he leaves the game. Today the game of baseball got to Lynn in a way fans rarely witness.

The better question is does this rough patch cost Lynn a postseason rotation spot? The Cardinals sport a historically great rotation that will be hard to trim down when October 6th hits. Do you keep Lance Lynn in a four man rotation and boot out someone else? If so, who do you take out? Martinez? That’s an electric arm to pin down. Jaime Garcia isn’t a reliever and shouldn’t be. John Lackey is arguably the most valuable starter in the group and Michael Wacha has looked like a stopper recently.

Where does Lynn fit in? This isn’t a time to bring up who was pro-Lynn and anti-Lynn back when or where they are now. This is about finding the best four man group to win a World Series win. There are many reasons to love Lance Lynn and I’ve written about it. However, it’s hard to not see the downward trend in his second half performance. What do you do with a struggling pitcher if he exits the season in a funk and you only need four guys in a playoff rotation?

Lynn has three starts remaining, barring any juggling of the rotation. He starts tonight against Cincinnati at home, at Pittsburgh and at Atlanta to finish the season. All three will be crucial in figuring out where his playoff status lies.

Love or hate Lance Lynn, it’s never easy watching the man pitch but it’s no time to give up on the pitcher.

Cards get last laugh with mad Wrigley escape

(In case you missed it on KSDK Sports this morning)

The game of baseball will smack you around many times throughout the 162 game season. Heartache follows the brutal losses and mad elation follows the thrilling wins. After engaging in a unintentional vigilante bean ball war brought to you folks by Tony Soprano over the first two games at Wrigley Field, the Cardinals stole the finale on Sunday and gave fans a sense of calm. Well, sort of.

The pitching was good for the most part. Carlos Martinez quieted the mighty bats of the Cubs down over 6.2 innings, allowing just two runs and striking out six batters in a frenzied environment. Right when you think this 24 year has impressed us to the tilt, he blows you away again. After a shaky stretch of starts that started midway through August, Martinez has fired off a pair of brilliant starts in a row on the road against division opponents.

The bullpen bent but didn’t break. Kevin Siegrist put out a fire and started another. Jonathan Broxton walked a couple guys, evoking painful memories of Chris Perez from years ago. Seth Maness came on and got the most unlikely double play before Trevor Rosenthal threw 6+ pitches at 100 mph or more for his 46th save. After a walk heavy season where K/BB ratio was 2-1, in 2015 Rosenthal has improved that ratio to 4 to 1. Impressive for a guy with a newborn at home. Can you imagine his daughter when she grows up? “When I was born, my dad was throwing 100 mph fastballs.”

The lineup did just enough. Young guns Tommy Pham and Stephen Piscotty provided all the offense the Birds would need with a pair of early two run home runs before Cubs pitcher Jon Lester settled down. Pham’s was a true shot, flying high out of Wrigley. It was the rookie’s fourth home run on the road trip.

The defensive came in the form of Jason Heyward and Tony Cruz. Maness induced a flyball with the bases loaded in the 8th inning and Heyward caught it in shallow right center field and fired a strike to Yadier Molina at homeplate to nail Anthony Rizzo and keep the game in the Cardinals favor. Heyward, according to Fangraphs, has saved 19 runs above average in right field this season and is arguably the defensive rightfielder in the game. He also leads the team in batting averages and stolen bases. Worth every penny. He will only get better as the years go by.

With the win, the Cards slipped out of Wrigley with a little dignity and kept the hard charging Cubs in check. The lead over Chicago is now six games and the Pirates are still four games out with 13 games left in the regular season. The final homestand includes three games with the Cincinnati Reds and four games with the Milwaukee Brewers before the Pirates get one final three game shot and then the Birds finish in Atlanta.

The Cards have clinched a wildcard game spot at the very least, but now aim to seal their lock on the division this week at Busch Stadium. If the Cards go at least 7-6(finishing with 100 wins), the Pirates would have to go 11-2 to tie them. That’s just one of the scenarios. Time is on the Cards side as the final stretch of 2015 unfolds. It may not have seemed like it(wait, it really did), but Sunday’s was huge to come home on a high note and to get the last laugh in Wrigley during the regular season.

What do you think the Cards’ record will be after the action on October 4th wraps up?

Should fans be worried about Carlos Martinez?

Back in March, there were people who didn’t even believe Carlos Martinez could be an effective 5th starter for the St. Louis Cardinals. Questions came in about his maturity and emotion on the mound. Some questioned his ability to go deep into games. Some just liked Marco Gonzales better. Flash forward a few months and “El Gallo” has blazed a trail through the National League. He hasn’t just looked like a legit starter but a probable ace down the road. However, lately, the soon to be 24 year old righthander has looked a bit more human. Is this rookie starter fatigue, hitters coming around to him, or just some rusty aftershocks of an unbelievable 2/3 portion of the season?

Let’s slow down and remember the kid is only 23 years old. He’s young, fiery and has enough life in his arm for two pitchers in Milwaukee. Downfall is always a suspect in a young man’s rookie season and I am talking rookie season because 2015 is the entry campaign for Martinez’s real job. A starter for the best team in baseball.

The team took precaution and rested him against The Nationals, citing a sore back even though an innings precaution was the likely idea. Coming into Friday’s start against Pittsburgh, Martinez had 154.2 innings, a season high for any stop in the young man’s career. A wall was going to be struck at some point.

After compiling earned run averages of 2.18 and 2.03 in June and July, Martinez’s ERA for August was 4.15. The trend started on July 30th when Martinez was beat up for 5 earned runs and 10 hits against Colorado. After a decent 5 inning effort against the Reds, Martinez threw a gem against Pittsburgh. Eight innings, 3 earned runs and eight strikeouts. Miami then reached him for 4 earned runs before Carlos fired consecutive quality starts against San Diego and Arizona. Friday, the Pirates got to him for four earned runs in five innings. That’s six starts with rough ones included. This followed a stretch where Martinez didn’t allow more than 3 earned runs in 13 consecutive starts. Hitters are reaching him for a .292 average since the All Star break and his ERA is 3.80 during that time.

When it comes to pitch usage differences, Martinez has leaned more on his changeup and slider in the past month over his sinker, which is a world renowned deadly pitch. Friday, his fastball had zip but everything else was flat.

So, is there reason to be worried about Martinez? Is the back an issue? Is rest an issue? Was a rhythm disrupted with the rest or is Martinez just having a rough patch?

I don’t think there’s reason to worry too much about the kid. He’s still 13-7 with a 3.07 ERA to go with a 2.5-1 strikeouts to walks ratio. His WHIP is respectable and he still has an ability to pitch well with runners on base and in scoring position. A “human” stretch may force certain scribes to revisit old themes and fans to question the durability of the young man but I still see a fiery finish to the season.

Martinez carries loads of emotion, willpower and guile to the hill every start. He won’t let it weigh him down. He’ll pop back out on the mound for his start against The Cubs on Wednesday for the homestand finale with something to prove. Here’s something to remember. Martinez has pitched at least five innings in a start since May 9th. Expect him to respond. This is not your normal young pitcher. Martinez is foolishly talented and will be ready, on regular rest, on Wednesday. It’s not time to overthink his durability or stature.

The rest means the Cardinals are thinking of him for a playoff rotation spot and that’s the right move. As easy as it is to once again send Martinez to the bullpen for the third straight time, it’s important to remember the kid’s 2.68 ERA and .228 batting average against on the road. That shouldn’t be forgotten.

Yes, Martinez has looked rougher as of late, but that doesn’t mean September will end with a Martinez fade. He had a rough May as well(4.19 ERA) and he bounced back. Sometimes, the kid just needs to breathe and relax in remembering this is a six month season and it’s a lot different when you only pitch once every five days. 2015 is still a class in session for Martinez. Some bumps were expected but the course is still set.

Carlos Martinez will ride high again…after he is finished building the largest tower of cups in the dugout this weekend.

Why can’t Cardinals fans appreciate Lance Lynn?

Tonight’s starter for the St. Louis Cardinals is Lance Lynn. You may have heard of him. He pitched for Ole Miss and likes to throw a heavy assortment of fastballs at various speeds. Up, down, and all around. He occasionally throws a curve because he gets bored or while he refills the propane tank for the next inning’s cheddar assault.

The thing about Lynn is that he drives fans crazy with his starts. He throws a lot of pitches early, works long counts, gets a ton of contact and occasionally gets dinged up. Does that warrant the complaining and “Lynning” tweets? Let’s dig in.

Lynn’s fielding independent earned run average is 3.17, which leads the team(if you exclude Jaime Garcia due to a lesser amount of starts). So I ask, is the discomfort with Lynn warranted or does it connect to his unorthodox manner of recording outs? He isn’t easy to watch but gets the job done with his own two hands the most.

Lynn wins. it can’t be denied. Since he picked up a baseball and starting slinging heaters for the Cards on June 2nd, 2011, Lynn has won games. His 58 games since account for a 61% win rate, and he is on pace for less than his usual 15 wins this season due to a lack of run support. Unlike his rotation colleague Michael Wacha, Lynn doesn’t get the steady diet of 5-6 runs. While Wacha got 10 runs in his Sunday victory in San Diego, Lynn got zero in his last start against the Giants on Tuesday. With a few more runs of support, Lynn would have at least 11 wins right now. Instead, tonight he vies for win #10 in Arizona.

Lynn’s strikeouts per nine innings is at its highest peak this season, sitting at 9.6. His strikeouts to walks ratio is 2.92-1, also his best in years. His ERA+ is 132, and 100 ranks as average. That is adjusted to the player’s ballpark to more accurately showed how much damage Lynn takes. He has faced 577 batters in 2015 and struck out 25% of them, which is an impressive stat.

Lynn is durable but doesn’t go deep into games. He’s only missed a couple starts this year, an occurrence that may hold him from reaching 200 innings. He has pitched 7 or more innings only 6 times in 23 starts. At 134.1 innings with roughly 8 starts to go before the end of the season, Lynn would have to dig deeper into games to reach 200. Still a durable man who has escaped major injury.

He’s a beast and doesn’t care or hinge on pitch counts. With all the close observation on Wacha and Carlos Martinez in 2015, Lynn regularly throws 100 pitches in a start. 17 out of his 23 starts, Lynn has thrown 100 pitches. Lynn has thrown 115 or more pitches in a start six times. He’s old school. He lets his emotions fly and has learned to harness his rage and also craft a fine post game media game. While the beast may not be tamed on the field, Lynn has evolved over the five seasons in the Majors as a man and pitcher.

So, why can’t the man get the love from his fans? He doesn’t have the child like adorable phenom combo of Martinez He hasn’t had the playoff sensation of Wacha. He doesn’t have the Lackey experience. Unlike Garcia, Lynn needs to work harder for his outs. Any of these sound justified? Yes and no.

Last week, I was asked about a playoff rotation and my four man set didn’t include Lynn. You know how bad I felt and how incomplete it sounded. The rest of my day was thrown off. I wrestled with the idea. I kept asking myself, how can I leave Lance “The Motorized Fastball” Lynn out of my rotation? It’s either him or Martinez and realistically speaking, Lynn will be in the playoff rotation over Martinez. You never know. There’s five weeks left.

Here’s how much I do know. Don’t underestimate Lance Lynn. Appreciate him. He doesn’t make it look easy every time out but he defines the reason why “wins” are overrated in this game. His WAR(wins above replacement) sits at 2.3, which is above average. He has the ability to get outs without his defense. His salary in from 2014 to 2015 did rise from $535,000 to $7,000,000. There are expectations with Lynn there and it’s okay to judge and be critical of his poor outings. At this point in his career, he most likely won’t change much.

Just remember this. When it comes to Lance Lynn, one can’t forget about the big picture appeal of this Indiana product. It won’t be easy for Mike Matheny to leave him out of the playoff starting rotation hustle.

Carlos Martinez: Pitching with Oscar on his mind

El GalloNothing makes you feel more human than when you lose someone in life who is close to you. It’s not fair. It’s too soon. And it really hurts. For St. Louis Cardinals’ pitcher Carlos Martinez, losing his best friend and teammate Oscar Taveras may never wear off. Everywhere Martinez goes and whatever success follows him, the legacy of his friend will follow along.

Every time Martinez climbs the mound, he draws an #18 into the mound. Whenever something great happens, such as Friday’s announcement that he was an All Star, the 23 year old mentions “representing” Oscar at the festivities. 2015 may be an extended tribute show dedicated to his fallen friend, but something tells me Carlos will be pitching with Oscar in mind for a long time. Maybe his whole career. That’s the way it goes with legacies. They never drift. They stick with you.

Also, I need to address the moral police. The people who see fit to slam Carlos or anyone who mentions Taveras in good graces. Unless you have NEVER driven under the influence or know anyone who has, please stand down on breaking out your little moral badge here. Carlos lost a friend dear to him. Nothing changes that, circumstances or not. Oscar made a mistake many of us made at 21 years of age. Why dog his best friend for that honoring him after his death? I don’t walk around with my shiny fake moral badge on slapping people for remembering an exuberant young man who made a tragic fatal mistake. Let it be. (more…)