Tagged: John Lackey

Lackey Leads Cards To 4th Straight Win

Kolten Wong celebrates with teammates after scoring to put them ahead by a pair of runs.

Kolten Wong celebrates with teammates after scoring to put them ahead by a pair of runs.

The St. Louis Cardinals were 3-1 winners over the Arizona Diamondbacks last night, running their winning streak up to 4 games.

John Lackey improved to 11-8, throwing a steady 7 innings of work, allowing 1 run on 7 hits and a walk. Lackey served up a solo homer to slugger Paul Goldschmidt in the 1st and then tossed 6.1 shutout innings to finish off his day.

Kolten Wong‘s RBI double in the 7th inning broke a 1-1 tie and Matt Carpenter‘s RBI single plated Wong to pad the lead.  Since taking three games off to get his head straight, Wong has three hits in the last two nights.

Trevor Rosenthal picked up his 40th save of the season, joining Pirates closer Mark Melancon in that club. Rosenthal is out this weekend on paternity leave with his wife scheduled to be induced into labor tomorrow.

The Redbirds got more solid defense, turning 3 double plays.

Highlights

* * * * * * * * *

The Pittsburgh Pirates scored 6 in the 2nd inning en route to an easy 7-2 win over the Miami Marlins, winning for the 11th time in their last 14 games.

Andrew McCutchen had a pair of extra-base hits – his 20th homer and 32nd double – driving in 4 runs.

Jeff Locke (W 7-8) went 7 innings, allowing a pair of runs on 5 hits and a walk.  It snapped a 6-game streak in which Locke had failed to escape the 6th inning.  He had gone 1-2 with a 6.39 ERA in that stretch.

The Bucs remain 4.5 games back of the Cardinals in the NL Central.  September should provide plenty of drama with those two teams battling for the division title.

Highlights

* * * * * * * * *

The Chicago Cubs fell back to even in their series with the San Francisco Giants, falling 4-2 and snapping a 6-game winning streak.

Buster Posey hit an RBI double over the head of Chris Coghlan in right field to break a 2-2 tie in the 6th.

Kyle Schwarber and Kris Bryant each had a double and single, with Bryant driving in a pair of runs to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead in the 1st.

Even with the loss, the Cubs are still 21-5 in their last 26 games.

Highlights

* * * * * * * * *

Pirates starting pitcher A.J. Burnett is feeling well after throwing a two inning simulated game and is hopeful to be back soon. He’s scheduled to throw another simulated game – this time three innings – on Sunday as he tries to work his way back into the rotation for the postseason run.

The often entertaining Adam Bittner of the Post-Gazette had a nice write-up on the use of Pirates “first baseman” Pedro Alvarez. Check it out over there.

Jeff Sullivan at Fangraphs.com wrote up 23-year-old Pirates outfielder Gregory Polanco, focusing on his improved handling of southpaws. Last year, Polanco had a slash line of .171/.222/.244 against left-handed pitchers. This year? .214/.275/.321. Still not great, but improving. FYI: His numbers against RHP are pretty similar between last year and this. By the way, both Polanco and Alvarez sat last night against the left-handed Chris Narveson. Read it.

Anthony Castrovince takes a look at 2015’s Most Impactful MLB Managers and, wouldn’t you know it, 3 of the top 6 are from the NL Central. The Bucs’ Clint Hurdle comes in at #6, the Cards’ Mike Matheny at #4 and the Cubs’ Joe Maddon is #1. Read it at Sports On Earth.

* * * * * * * * *

Joey Votto continues to have a monster season, upping his on-base percentage yet another 10 points this past week to hit .446 at the top of the NL Central Leader Board.

In 14 games played since August 12th, Votto has a .571 OBP to go along with a .372 AVG, .837 SLG, 1.409 OPS, 5 HR and 5 2B. That’s spanning 63 plate appearances. Unreal.

* * * * * * * * *

Division Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 81 45 W4
Pittsburgh Pirates 76 49 4.5 W1
Chicago Cubs 73 52 7.5 L1
Milwaukee Brewers 53 74 28.5 L4
Cincinnati Reds 52 73 28.5 L2

Wild Card Standings

W L GB
Pittsburgh Pirates 76 49 +3.0
Chicago Cubs 73 52
San Francisco Giants 67 59 6.5
Washington Nationals 63 62 10.0

* * * * * * * * *

Schedule

69-56 Dodgers Greinke (13-3, 1.67)
52-73 REDS DeSclafani (7-9, 3.97)
11:35 AM CT
73-52 CUBS Haren (8-8, 3.76)
67-59 Giants Bumgarner (15-6, 3.02)
2:45 PM CT
76-49 PIRATES Cole (14-7, 2.49)
51-76 Marlins Nicolino (2-1, 3.77)
6:10 PM CT
81-45 CARDINALS Martinez (12-6, 2.85)
62-64 Diamondbacks De La Rosa (11-5, 4.32)
8:40 PM CT

* * * * * * * * *

NL Central Leaders

On-Base Percentage
Joey Votto (CIN) .446
Andrew McCutchen (PIT) .400
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) .396
Kris Bryant (CHC) .368
Jung Ho Kang (PIT) .364
WHIP
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 0.93
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 0.98
Jason Hammel (CHC) 1.09
Michael Wacha (STL) 1.12
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 1.13

1st Round Picks Locked Up

Francisco Liriano was the latest Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher to conquer an opponent.

Francisco Liriano was the latest Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher to conquer an opponent.

At this point, it appears that every team from the NL Central has signed their first round draft pick.

The St. Louis Cardinals struck first, signing Nick Plummer last Thursday. Plummer even made an appearance at Busch Stadium yesterday, taking part in pregame activities with two other Cardinal draft picks.

Over the weekend, the Cincinnati Reds followed suit by inking Tyler Stephenson.

And yesterday, the Chicago CubsIan Happ, Milwaukee BrewersTrent Clark, and Pittsburgh PiratesKevin Newman all put pen to paper.

Now on to the recaps.

* * *

The Pirates, hooooo boy…, they did things. Terrible things to the Chicago White Sox. An 11-0 dismantling, allowing 2 hits and 1 walk, striking out 13.

That’s not polite.

Pittsburgh put 5 runs on the board in the bottom of the 1st and cruised from there, as Francisco Liriano went 8 shutout innings, striking out 12 to improve to 4-5 on the season.

The top two hitters in the lineup, Josh Harrison and Starling Marte, each had four-hit games. In total, seven Pirates had multi-hit games.

First baseman Sean Rodriguez (0-for-4, SO) must be feeling like a total clown this morning.

That’s five straight wins now for Pittsburgh, who’s trying their best to keep up with the Redbirds. In this winning streak, Pirates’ starting pitchers have gone 4-0 with a 0.25 ERA, the worst start coming by Gerrit Cole. That’s saying something.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * *

The Cardinals were 3-2 winners at home against the Minnesota Twins.

Yadier Molina had three hits and homered for the first time in almost a year (6/27/2014), picking up his long-ball on the back end of back-to-back homers with Mark Reynolds in the 4th inning.

John Lackey rebounded from a rough prior start, going 8 innings for the win (5-4), allowing 2 runs on 5 hits and a walk to go along with 6 strikeouts.  Lackey had allowed 12 hits in 4 innings of work last week.  This was his best start since going 7 shutout innings on May 29th and was his longest start since going 9 innings last June 18th, almost exactly a year ago.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * *

The Reds were blanked 6-0 by the Detroit Tigers as they were owned by Anibal Sanchez (CG, 0 R, 2 H, 0 BB, 7 SO).

And, hey, why not more bad news for a Reds team that had very little to look forward to in 2015? Starting pitcher Jon Moscot faced just 3 batters before leaving the game with a dislocated shoulder. The injury happened on this play, with Moscot running Anthony Gose back to second base on a rundown. Bad form on that play, by the way. You run straight at the runner. Not sure why he curled around Gose’s right side. He should have never had to dive at Gose if he had just run straight at him.

Moscot becomes the 3rd player the Reds will have put on the disabled list in the last 5 days. This month they have already put down Zack Cozart (knee), Marlon Byrd (wrist), Tony Cingrani (shoulder) and Raul Iglesias (oblique).

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * *

The Brewers put together a late rally to result in a final score that made the game appear closer than it was, falling 8-5 to the Kansas City Royals.

K.C. put up 3 in the 1st and 2 in the 5th to open up an eventual 5-0 lead. That lead was 8-2 heading into the bottom of the 9th when the Brew Crew had their first 5 batters reach base to pick up a trio of runs in garbage time.

Enough was enough, so the Royals called on Wade Davis to retire the next three batters in order.

Kyle Lohse (L 3-8) now has a 6.44 ERA for the season and I’m finding it hard to believe any team will be looking to trade for him at the deadline.

Carlos Gomez was out and continues to be day-to-day with a hip injury.

Game Highlights from MLB.com

* * *

The Cubs were rained/flooded/tornadoed out, so their fans stayed home to watch the Chicago Blackhawks win their 3rd Stanley Cup in the last 6 years instead.

First baseman Anthony Rizzo was in attendance. I’m just trying to figure out how he managed to get a ticket for the game…

Rizzo, by the way, slipped out of the lead in batting average (see below); he’s 0-for-14 with 5 strikeouts in his last 3 games.

Probable future National League Designated Hitter, Kyle Schwarber, is getting called up to do just that – play DH – in inter-league games for the next 6 days. The #4 pick of the 2014 draft, Baseball America had Schwarber as the #19 prospect in baseball following the 2014 season. Speaking to the team’s prospects, he was still only ranked 4th in the list of the organization’s prospects. 19th among all 30 teams, but 4th on this team. Unreal.

Drafted as a catcher, Schwarber is hitting .320 with 13 HR and a 1.017 OPS at AA Tennessee.

* * *

NL Central Leaders

AVG
Jhonny Peralta (STL) .316
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) .307
Matt Holliday (STL) .303
Joey Votto (CIN) .299
Brandon Phillips (CIN) .296
ERA
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 1.71
A.J. Burnett (PIT) 1.89
Michael Wacha (STL) 2.45
Jason Hammel (CHC) 2.81
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 2.85

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 42 21 W4
Pittsburgh Pirates 36 27 6.0 W5
Chicago Cubs 34 27 7.0 W2
Cincinnati Reds 28 35 14.0 L3
Milwaukee Brewers 24 41 19.0 L3

* * *

Schedule

34-29 Twins Gibson (4-4, 3.24)
42-21 CARDINALS Wacha (8-2, 2.45)
12:45 PM CT
28-34 White Sox Quintana (3-6, 4.00)
36-27 PIRATES Morton (4-0, 2.05)
6:05 PM CT
28-35 REDS Lorenzen (1-2, 4.01)
34-30 Tigers Ryan (1-0, 2.08)
6:08 PM CT
29-33 Indians Bauer (5-3, 3.53)
34-27 CUBS Arrieta (6-4, 3.16)
7:05 PM CT
35-25 Royals Young (5-2, 2.25)
24-41 BREWERS Garza (4-7, 4.80)
7:10 PM CT

Draft Recap and More

The Chicago Cubs selected this friendly-looking fellow with the 9th pick in the 2015 MLB Draft.

The Chicago Cubs selected this friendly-looking fellow with the 9th pick in the 2015 MLB Draft.

The MLB Draft got underway last night with the Chicago Cubs (again) having the top pick in the division, this time selecting outfielder Ian Happ with the #9 pick.

Happ, from an awful University of Cincinnati team (15-41), had a career .338 average in college to go along with a .463 on base percentage. This past season saw Happ hit .369 with 18 doubles, 14 homers, and 12 stolen bases. He’s a switch-hitter with average power and speed and the versatility to be a multi-position player.

Next up from the division was the Cincinnati Reds, who selected catcher Tyler Stephenson 11th overall.

Out of Kennesaw Mountain High School (Georgia), the 6’4″ Stephenson hit .425 with 8 HR in 65 at bats this spring. He was the highest rated catcher in the draft. He’s signed a letter of commitment to Georgia Tech, but is likely to sign with the Reds.

With the 15th overall pick, the Milwaukee Brewers selected outfielder Trent Clark.

Clark hit .552 with 3 HR and 11 SB during his senior year at Richland High School in Texas. Milwaukee plans to use the left-handed hitting Clark in center field. He has a scholarship to remain near home and attend Texas Tech.

University of Arizona shortstop Kevin Newman went 19th overall to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Newman hit .370 with 19 doubles, 2 homers and 22 steals as a junior at Arizona.

Rounding out the NL Central’s top picks was Nick Plummer, the #23 pick for the St. Louis Cardinals.

A center fielder from Brother Rice High School in Michigan, the Plummer pick is the first time the Cards have selected a high school position player in the 1st round since taking Pete Kozma in 2007. (Shelby Miller, a pitcher, was a high school selection in 2009.)

He hit .520 with 22 doubles, 5 triples and 32 stolen bases this year, with a 32/10 BB/SO ratio. He had signed a letter of commitment to University of Kentucky.

The draft continues today.

Now on to last night’s games.

* * *

Kicking things off, Jimmy Nelson and the Brewers shut down the red-hot Pirates, 2-0, in a rain-soaked game.

Nelson went 6 shutout innings, striking out 7 while allowing 4 hits and walking 3. He improved to 3-6 on the season and dropped his ERA to a respectable 4.05, particularly by Brewers’ standards.

A perfect 9th inning and 11th save for Francisco Rodriguez, who could find himself the subject of trade talks in the coming months.

A rough night for Starling Marte, who went 0-for-4 with a strikeout, double play grounder, and error in the field. In his last 9 games, Marte is hitting .114/.205/.200 for a .405 OPS.

Andrew McCutchen got the night off, resting his bothersome left knee.

Down in the minors, top pitching prospect Jameson Taillon threw 47 pitches (4 innings) in extended spring training, rehabbing from last April’s Tommy John surgery.

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

* * *

The Cardinals’ game ended right after it began, giving up 5 runs in the 1st and another 5 in the 4th en route to an 11-3 loss against the Colorado Rockies.

John Lackey fell to 4-4, allowing 10 runs (8 earned) on 12 hits over 4 innings of work. Wow.

The big play of the game for Cardinals fans was this 2nd inning fly ball that led to Matt Holliday suffering a quad injury. Matt Adams is already most likely lost for the season with a quad tear, so Holliday might make two Cardinals to be lost to that injury. I didn’t see the loss of Adams as particularly huge, given that he hasn’t performed well anyhow and isn’t exactly a perennial All-Star. When he’s on, he’s good, but he’s not a Hall of Famer or anything. This loss, though, could deal a pretty big blow to their lineup.

We’ll update the blog when word comes down.

Matt Carpenter went 0-for-3 with an error as his average dropped to .300. He’s hitting .143 for the month of June.

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

Lance Lynn, who left Sunday’s game early with cramping in his right forearm, downplayed the incident, stating it was no big deal and something that happens to him from time to time.

* * *

The Reds were 6-4 winners over the Philadelphia Phillies.

Zack Cozart went 3-for-4 with a homer (8th) and double.

Making his first career start as Red, Ivan De Jesus Junior went 2-for-4 and belted his first big-league homer. He had no taters in 185 AAA at-bats this season and none in 73 previous MLB at-bats.

And the Reds finally solved Cole Hamels, beating the Phillies for the first time in 14 occasions when Hamels was their starting pitcher.

Game Highlights (MLB.com)

* * *

NL Central Leaders

AVG
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) .332
Jhonny Peralta (STL) .316
Brandon Phillips (CIN) .309
Kolten Wong (STL) .307
Matt Holliday (STL) .303
ERA
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 1.73
A.J. Burnett (PIT) 2.11
Michael Wacha (STL) 2.18
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 2.64
Jason Hammel (CHC) 2.76

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 38 20 L1
Chicago Cubs 30 25 6.5 W2
Pittsburgh Pirates 31 26 6.5 L1
Cincinnati Reds 25 31 12.0 W2
Milwaukee Brewers 21 37 17.0 W1

* * *

Schedule

21-37 BREWERS Jungmann (NR)
31-26 PIRATES Liriano (3-4, 3.24)
6:05 PM CT
30-25 CUBS Lester (4-4, 3.86)
30-28 Tigers Sanchez (3-7, 5.69)
6:08 PM CT
22-37 Phillies Harang (4-6, 2.45)
25-31 REDS DeSclafani (4-4, 3.60)
6:10 PM CT
38-20 CARDINALS Wacha (8-1, 2.18)
26-30 Rockies De La Rosa (2-2, 6.15)
7:40 PM CT

Hendricks Dominant in Cubs Win

Kyle Hendricks picked up his 1st win of the year in an impressive shutout.

Kyle Hendricks picked up his 1st win of the year in an impressive shutout.

He doesn’t throw 100 mph and he doesn’t throw a knee-buckling curve. But Kyle Hendricks is controlled and steady.

The Chicago Cubs had some hope that, despite not having the kind of “stuff” that blows away scouts, he had the makeup of a quality starting pitcher and maybe some sort of intangible “it”.

After a rough start to the 2015 season, Hendricks finally had a shining moment last night against the San Diego Padres, putting up a game score of 84 with a 5-hit, no-walk shutout, striking out 7. Hendricks’ ERA plummeted to 4.14 while picking up his first win of the season, throwing 108 pitches in the process.

A couple of the rookies got it done at the plate, with Kris Bryant (5th) and Addison Russell (3rd) going deep in the 1st and 7th innings, respectively, to account for every run in the 3-0 win.

* * *

Jacob deGrom ruined what could have been a special comeback game for Jaime Garcia, blanking the St. Louis Cardinals in a 5-0 win for the New York Mets.

Garcia – now expected to be the permanent replacement for Adam Wainwright‘s vacated spot in the starting rotation – went 7 strong innings, allowing a pair of runs on 5 hits. He did struggle with his command a bit, walking 5.

But deGrom went 8 shutout innings allowing just a single hit and no walks, striking out 11. At one stretch, he retired 23 consecutive batters. Truly dominant stuff.

The top 5 men in the Cardinals lineup each struck out twice while Kolten Wong and Matt Carpenter combined for the only two times a man reached base.

* * *

The highlight from the Milwaukee Brewers‘ 10-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves was reliever Will Smith getting tossed.

That should tell you something.

Matt Garza took the loss, falling to 2-6 on the season with a 5.71 ERA after allowing 4 runs in 6.1 innings of work.

* * *

There was a nice article at the Post-Gazette with some comments from Pittsburgh Pirates‘ middle infielders Neil Walker and Jordy Mercer on the use of defensive shifts. As I stated earlier this week when the Cards’ John Lackey did a little flip out about a ball being hit where the shortstop would have been had the team not been playing an extreme shift to the right side of the infield, for every one team you get beat by the shift, there are a couple of teams where the shift saved you. The numbers don’t lie – batting average on balls put into play keeps dropping, and the advanced scouting and more widely adopted use of shifts is the reason. In fact, giving the numbers so far this season, teams are on pace to employ the shift 7.5 times more often than they did just 4 seasons ago. Read the article here.

* * *

NL Central Leaders

RBI
Ryan Braun (MIL) 29
Kris Bryant (CHC) 27
Starling Marte (PIT) 27
Matt Carpenter (STL) 24
6-way tie 23
Wins
Michael Wacha (STL) 6
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 5
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 4
Jon Lester (CHC) 4
Carlos Martinez (STL) 4

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 27 14 L1
Chicago Cubs 23 17 3.5 W2
Cincinnati Reds 18 22 8.5 L5
Pittsburgh Pirates 18 22 8.5 L2
Milwaukee Brewers 15 27 12.5 L2

* * *

Schedule

24-18 Mets Syndergaard (1-1, 3.18)
18-22 PIRATES Cole (5-2, 2.40)
6:05 PM CT
18-22 REDS Leake (2-2, 3.62)
17-23 Indians Carrasco (4-4, 4.98)
6:10 PM CT
15-27 BREWERS Peralta, W (1-5, 4.32)
20-20 Braves Wood, A (2-2, 3.83)
6:35 PM CT
27-14 CARDINALS Lynn (3-3, 2.96)
26-14 Mets Young, Cr (3-0, 0.94)
7:10 PM CT
23-17 CUBS Lester (4-2, 3.70)
19-21 Diamondbacks Collmenter (3-5, 5.36)
8:40 PM CT

Cards Slump Continues, Fall in 14 to Mets

Eric Campbell slid in ahead of the throw home as the New York Mets handed the St. Louis Cardinals a 14-inning loss.

Eric Campbell slid in ahead of the throw home as the New York Mets handed the St. Louis Cardinals a 14-inning loss.

For 8 innings, the St. Louis Cardinals were shut down by Matt Harvey and the New York Mets.

Harvey went 8 shutout innings, allowing 6 hits and a walk to go along with 9 strikeouts.

Thankfully for the Cards, John Lackey had done pretty well himself – 7 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 0 BB, 6 SO.

And so the door was left open for them to tie the game up in the top of the 9th.

With one out, Matt Adams singled and was replaced by pinch-runner Pete Kozma. The move paid off when Koz moved to third on Yadier Molina‘s base hit into right and then scored on Jason Heyward‘s sac fly to right, tying the game up.

From there it was all up to the bullpens.

In the bottom of the 9th, the Mets had Curtis Granderson on 2nd with one out – couldn’t score him.

In the top of the 11th, the Cardinals had Jhonny Peralta on 2nd with two out – couldn’t score him.

In the top of the 14th, the Cardinals had Heyward on 2nd with one out – couldn’t score him.

The game finally ended in the bottom of the 14th when the Cardinals’ Sam Tuivailala walked the first two men he faced, one of whom scored when pinch-hitter John Mayberry hit a walk-off, bases-loaded single off of Trevor Rosenthal.

With five infielders, Mayberry hit a ball to Peralta’s right from shortstop. Peralta dove to knock the ball down, recovered, and threw home but it was too late as Eric Campbell scored well ahead of the throw.

The two teams combined for 32 strikeouts in 27.1 innings of pitching, allowing 3 runs.

So are all the injuries catching up to the Cardinals? Or it just a matter of facing tougher teams as of late? They’ve now lost 6 of their last 9.

Randal Grichuk (5 strikeouts) and Matt Carpenter (3 strikeouts) were each 0-for-6.

Lackey, by the way, did not want to speak to the media post-game and appeared very upset about the one run he allowed – an RBI base hit by Lucas Duda to the left side of second base with the Cards playing three infielders on the right side and one of the left with Carpenter holding a runner on third.

There have been numerous studies that show that the data leading to more shifts has been largely successful, but when it fails (as it did in that particular at bat) it’s more magnified because of the peculiarity of the situation. I think this sort of thing will become increasingly normal, more acceptable and less cause for a hissy-fit from a pitcher like Lackey or the anti-shift tirade from the Pirates’ A.J. Burnett a couple of years ago. For every one time the shift burns you, there are a couple more times where it has saved you. It’s been working. Everybody relax.

* * *

I did a double take when I received my notification that the Milwaukee Brewers had beaten the Detroit Tigers, 3-2. How can this be?

Carlos Gomez went 2-for-5 with a homer (4th) in the first plate appearance of the game and RBI single to break a 2-2 tie in the top of the 7th.

Martin Maldonado snapped an 0-for-19 stretch.

Khris Davis was 0-for-4 and grounded into a double play.

* * *

The Chicago Cubs optioned lefty reliever Phil Coke, moved fellow lefty Travis Wood to the bullpen, and recalled a third lefty – Tsuyoshi Wada – to join the rotation.

In 16 appearances, Coke had a 6.30 ERA this season, allowing 17 of the 45 batters he faced to reach base for a 1.700 WHIP.

Wood is carrying a 5.45 ERA to go with a 1.263 WHIP in 8 appearances, including 7 starts.

The 34-year old Wada went 4-4 with a 3.25 ERA in 13 starts for the Cubs last season. While rehabbing from a groin injury, he went 1-3 with a 2.86 ERA in 6 starts.

The Cubs feel more confident with other left-handed relief options in Zac Rosscup (16 G, 1.02 WHIP) and James Russell (7 G, 1.25 WHIP).

In other Cubs news, their 3-headed catcher experiment officially ended just a few moments ago as Welington Castillo was traded to the Seattle Mariners for relief pitcher Yoervis Medina.

Castillo was expected to be the odd man out from the beginning and the Cubs had been seeking trade partners since Spring Training. When none were found, they opened the season with Castillo, Miguel Montero and David Ross. Castillo was hitting .163 in 43 AB this year, although he did seem to square up the ball pretty well on some of the outs that I saw.

In 12 appearances this season, the right-handed Medina had a horrid 1.500 WHIP. His ERA was just 3.00, but for relief pitchers (who can enter games mid-inning and therefore create artificially low ERAs), that WHIP is a real killer. 18 of 54 batters faced had reached base. The 26-year old has a career 9.2 K/9 in 141 relief appearances to go along with a 1.336 WHIP and 2.82 ERA.

* * *

NL Central Leaders

AVG
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) .344
Matt Holliday (STL) .320
Matt Carpenter (STL) .314
Brandon Phillips (CIN) .310
Kolten Wong (STL) .304
ERA
A.J. Burnett (PIT) 1.38
Michael Wacha (STL) 2.06
Gerrit Cole (PIT) 2.40
Jake Arrieta (CHC) 2.77
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 2.93

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 25 13 L1
Chicago Cubs 21 16 3.5 L1
Cincinnati Reds 18 20 7.0 L3
Pittsburgh Pirates 18 20 7.0 W1
Milwaukee Brewers 14 25 11.5 W1

* * *

Schedule

21-17 Twins Nolasco (3-1, 6.38)
18-20 PIRATES Liriano, F (1-3, 2.96)
6:05 PM CT
14-25 BREWERS Nelson (1-4, 4.22)
23-16 Tigers Sanchez, An (3-4, 4.76)
6:08 PM CT
25-13 CARDINALS Wacha (5-0, 2.06)
23-16 Mets Niese (3-3, 2.49)
6:10 PM CT
18-20 REDS Cueto (3-3, 2.93)
24-14 Royals Ventura (2-3, 5.36)
7:10 PM CT
21-16 CUBS Hammel (3-1, 3.11)
19-20 Padres Shields (5-0, 3.91)
9:10 PM CT

Cards Shut Down by Kluber, Indians

We usually use a player from the NL Central as our featured image, but DAMN! Can't ignore last night's performance by Cleveland Indians' starting pitcher Corey Kluber.

We usually use a player from the NL Central as our featured image, but DAMN! Can’t ignore last night’s performance by Cleveland Indians’ starting pitcher Corey Kluber.

Corey Kluber did this to the St. Louis Cardinals last night, erasing his 0-5 start to the season: 8 shutout innings with 1 hit allowed, no walks and 18 strikeouts.

18!!!

Kluber, the defending AL Cy Young winner, joined Bob Feller as the only Cleveland pitchers to strike out 18 men in a game. That’s good company.

John Lackey (L 2-2) allowed 2 runs in 5.1 innings, which seems like a small miracle considering he allowed 5 hits and walked 5 as well. The Indians went 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position.

Jhonny Peralta had the sole Cardinal hit – a single with two out in the 7th.

Mark Reynolds and Peter Bourjos each struck out in all three plate appearances.

Dominant stuff.

Matt Holliday took a 94-mph Kluber fastball to the left elbow in the 1st inning and had to be pulled from the game. A scan revealed a “deep contusion” and he’ll likely be out at least a few days. With Jon Jay already nursing an injury (left thumb bruise) and Randal Grichuk‘s back injury keeping him off the team, the Cards’ outfield situation is pretty grim right now.

* * *

A walk-off walk for Chris Coghlan and the Comeback Cubs as they take their 3rd straight game against the visiting New York Mets.

Jason Hammel held his own against Matt Harvey, leaving the Chicago Cubs trailing 1-0 headed into the bottom of the 8th. Addison Russell singled with one out, moved to second on a wild pitch, then scored on a base hit by Dexter Fowler to tie it up.

In the bottom of the 9th, Anthony Rizzo led off with a hard single into right. Starlin Castro roped one through the left side for another hit, moving pinch-runner Matt Szczur to 3rd. After Miguel Montero was intentionally walked, reliever Jeurys Familia entered the game. He struck out Jorge Soler, who swung at some pitches that he really shouldn’t have. But then Coghlan stepped up with the bases loaded and left the bat on his shoulders on a 3-1 pitch that wasn’t close.

Hammel went 8 innings, allowing 1 run on 5 hits and a walk, striking out 6. Check him out on the division’s WHIP leader boards below.

A rough night for Soler, who couldn’t possibly look more miserable about playing in weather below 50 degrees. The entire field will be full of guys in short sleeves and there’s Soler with a parka on. He might have signed up for the wrong team. His plate appearances tonight: 4-6-3 double play, strike out, 4-6-3 double play, strike out with the bases loaded.

* * *

Jeff Francoeur can still throw the ball and his arm helped save the Philadelphia Phillies in a 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Jordy Mercer‘s fly ball into right field was caught in foul territory by Francouer for the 2nd out. Steve Lombardozzi then attempted to tag up from 3rd but was thrown out at the plate by a good 5 feet, giving Francouer his 123rd career outfield assist. That’s 3rd best among active outfielders behind only Carlos Beltran (135) and Torii Hunter (125). For reference, the career leader is “The Grey Eagle”, Tris Speaker, who had 449.

Cole Hamels was impressive against Pittsburgh, going 7 innings for the win while allowing 2 runs on 5 hits and a walk, striking out 9.

Andrew McCutchen is still only hitting .231 this season, but he had a 2-RBI single last night and is hitting .293 with 6 extra-base hits in his last 14 games.

Sean Rodriguez, who my wife finds exceptionally handsome for a hirsute man, struck out twice and also grounded into a double play.

The loss ended the Bucs’ four-game winning streak.

Some exciting news for Pirates prospects as the #2 pick of the 2010 draft, starting pitcher Jameson Taillon, is slated to throw his first inning of work since undergoing Tommy John surgery last April.

Also recovering is Charlie Morton, scheduled to start in the minor today in his rehab from hip surgery. Morton is among the front-runners to replace Vance Worley in the bullpen.

* * *

Raul Iglesias made his second career start an impressive win, firing 5+ innings of no-hit ball to lead the Cincinnati Reds to a 5-1 win over the Atlanta Braves.

Iglesias finished with 8 innings of work, allowing 1 run on 2 hits and 3 walks, striking out 5.

Zack Cozart returned to the Cincy lineup and had a double and sac fly. He also made this pretty sweet play in the field. The shortstop is hitting .321 this season.

On the other side of the middle infielders, Kristopher Negron is hitting just .111 after an 0-for-2 day – he filled in for Brandon Phillips and his injured toe at second.

* * *

The Milwaukee Brewers tried to come back but couldn’t overcome the 3 runs they allowed in the 1st inning, falling to the Chicago White Sox 4-2.

The Journal Sentinel has a nice short article on Elian Herrera. Herrera signed as an amateur free agent in 2003 and didn’t see action in the big leagues until 2012 when he was already 27 years old. Read the full article here.

Herrera has been filling in at third base while Aramis Ramirez sits out with back problems. Rami, who has missed the last six games, is expected to return to the lineup Friday.

* * *

NL Central Leaders

OBP
Matt Holliday (STL) .466
Anthony Rizzo (CHC) .463
Kris Bryant (CHC) .411
Joey Votto (CIN) .408
Matt Carpenter (STL) .391
WHIP
Johnny Cueto (CIN) 0.877
Mike Leake (CIN) 0.966
Jason Hammel (CHC) 0.993
Francisco Liriano (PIT) 1.007
Michael Wacha (STL) 1.034

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 23 10 L1
Chicago Cubs 18 15 5.0 W3
Cincinnati Reds 17 17 6.5 W2
Pittsburgh Pirates 17 17 6.5 L1
Milwaukee Brewers 12 23 12.0 L2

* * *

Schedule

23-10 CARDINALS Wacha (5-0, 2.09)
12-20 Indians Bauer (2-1, 4.19)
11:10 AM CT
17-17 PIRATES Worley (2-2, 4.63)
12-23 Phillies Harang (3-3, 2.38)
12:05 PM CT
20-14 Mets Niese (3-2, 1.95)
18-15 CUBS Wood, T (2-2, 4.96)
1:20 PM CT
17-17 Giants Lincecum (3-2, 2.00)
17-17 REDS Cueto (3-3, 2.98)
6:10 PM CT

Wainwright Suffers Achilles Injury

Adam Wainwright

Adam Wainwright

Saturday afternoon in Milwaukee. Top of the 5th inning. 1-2 count.

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright was at the plate and hit a pop up to Adam Lind at first base.

At first glance, it appeared the ball would drift foul. So Wainwright stood in the batter’s box, looking up to watch the ball soaring into the air.

Noticing the ball was coming back towards play, with Milwaukee Brewers‘ first baseman Adam Lind positioning himself underneath it, Wainwright motioned to jog towards first base.

Only that first step never really happened.

Wainwright lurched forward, trying to force himself down the line.

But whatever damage was going to occur had already been done.

It appears to be an Achilles injury, which is a long and difficult path back.

4 shutout innings in the books to go along with 4 strikeouts, no walks and a 1.44 ERA on the 2015 season.

And that’s how we might be remembering Adam Wainwright until next season, because this could very well be it for the 33-year old veteran leader of the pitching staff.

You’re going to hear a lot about how this is the end of the Cardinals’ season, but I’m not buying it.

Yes, it’s obviously a huge blow. John Lackey, 36, is the only other veteran left in the starting rotation. I don’t see him stepping up to be the new leader; he’s a relative newcomer to the franchise.

But it’s not as though Lance Lynn, 28, isn’t capable of being that veteran face of the staff. He’s in his 5th year in the Bigs, all spent with the Cardinals, and owns a 50-30 lifetime record with a 3.47 ERA and 8.8 strikeouts per 9 innings.

The Cards came into the season with a surplus of pitching in case this sort of thing came up, as it so often does for a team during the course of a 162 game season.

Don’t worry about the Cardinals. They’ll be fine. They’re still going to be favorites to win the division. They always seem to find a way.

2015 will still likely be a successful season.

It just won’t be the same without Wainwright.

* * *

Internally available candidates who have been mentioned to replace Wainwright in the rotation:

* Marco Gonzales – He almost made the team out of spring training and has started well in AAA but was recently placed on the 7-day DL with a sore pectoral. Possibly the Cards tread water with this spot in the rotation for a turn or two until Gonzales can get the call up.
* Carlos Villanueva – The relief pitcher has often worked in a “swing” role before.
* Tim Cooney – Doing so-so in AAA this year, but questions remain about the lefties ability to get righties out at the big league level. The peripherals don’t look so great.
* Tyler Lyons – The lefty made 12 ineffective starts for the Birds last year, had a bad spring and is getting tagged at AAA.
* Zach Petrick – 25-year old right-hander with a bloated ERA (8.66) at AAA but some decent peripherals (12/2 K/BB ration in 17 innings).
* Jaime Garcia – Had a nice spring in trying to work his way back to the bigs, but injuries will likely keep him out another couple of months.

Waino’s turn in the rotation is due up Thursday, so look for one of those first three names to take his spot until Gonzales and Garcia have recovered from injuries they are dealing with.

I have a strange feeling we’ll see the Cards pull off a trade that brings in a stud to replace Wainwright. They’ll have an opportunity to scout Cole Hamels tonight, in fact, going up against the lefty and the Philadelphia Phillies at home.

The bright spot, if you believe in those sorts of things, is that Wainwright missed out on the 2011 season with Tommy John surgery. That was the most recent World Series win for the franchise.

Also don’t forget that they already have some young kids contributing in a huge way, namely Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha. It’s not as though Wainwright himself was the sole reason the Cards lead the National League with a 2.24 team ERA.

* * *

National League Ranks

Batting Pitching
St. Louis 9th 1st
Chicago 3rd 7th
Pittsburgh 7th 2nd
Cincinnati 11th 12th
Milwaukee 14th 15th

* * *

Schedule

4-15 MILWAUKEE Nelson (1-1, 1.35)
8-10 CINCINNATI Marquis (1-1, 7.20)
6:10 PM CT
11-8 PITTSBURGH Worley (2-1, 4.00)
10-7 CHICAGO Hammel (1-1, 5.19)
7:05 PM CT
7-12 Philadelphia Hamels (0-2, 3.75)
12-5 ST. LOUIS Lackey (1-0, 4.34)
7:15 PM CT

* * *

Standings

W L GB Strk
St. Louis Cardinals 12 5 L1
Chicago Cubs 10 7 2.0 W2
Pittsburgh Pirates 11 8 2.0 W5
Cincinnati Reds 8 10 4.5 L3
Milwaukee Brewers 4 15 9.0 W1