A Perfect Storm in Cincinnati

The Cardinals really screwed the pooch in Cincinnati.  After sweeping the Pirates at home and taking 3 out of 4 against the Brewers in Milwaukee, the Cardinals came into Cincinnati flying high.  They managed to overcome a mystifying start against a soft tossing lefty with nothing special to offer in Monday’s game in the late innings.   The rest of the series was a really big bag of nothing.  Ineffective pitching on Tuesday, little to no offense on Wednesday and Thursday.  Toss that up with some defensive miscues in both the infield and the outfield, and some pretty bad BABIP luck and you get a Suck Salad.

Much was made about Mike Matheny‘s decision to pinch hit Mark Ellis, Peter Bourjos, and Tommy Pham against Aroldis Chapman in the 9th inning of Wednesday’s game.  Mark Ellis was used, according to reports, because he was 3-3 against Chapman in his career.  I have often complained about Matheny’s use of these batter v pitcher match ups to put together his lineup and to make decisions about pinch hitters.  There is no evidence that these small sample size match ups (many times they involve ABs years in the past) are in any way predictive.  They don’t provide any more value to predict how a hitter would fair against a particular pitcher than a simple coin toss would provide.  This article at Fangraphs from 2011 discusses their lack of predictive value.  As it happened, Ellis failed in both his attempts, on Wednesday and Thursday’s games against Chapman, to get a hit or get on base.

In addition, Matheny pinch hit Peter Bourjos for Yadier Molina, a move that angered some fans.  The explanation later given was that Matheny felt Bourjos’ “bat speed” would match up well with Chapman’s 100+ mph fastball.  Now I am the biggest Peter Bourjos honk there is, but I didn’t think that was a good match up at all.  Hitting the 100+ mph fastball is less about bat speed, and more about timing.  Timing is achieved and maintained by repetition.  You get proper timing through getting a lot of ABs.  So logically, the last person you would want trying to hit a 100+ mph fastball is a guy like Bourjos, who spends the majority of his time on the bench, pulling splinters out of his backside.  Bourjos had had a whopping 1 AB since Sunday when he came in to pinch hit for Molina on Wednesday night.  I didn’t have an issue with PHing for Molina, who hasn’t hit well since his return from the DL, but Bourjos was simply a bad choice.  The guy who should have PH for Molina was Jhonny Peralta; a right handed batter who was just on the bench that game for a rest.

As for the use of Tommy Pham to hit against Chapman, that was just idiotic.  Seriously, seriously, stupid.  Not to mention completely unfair to Pham.

Nevertheless, as bad as those decisions were, I don’t think any of them made a significant difference in the outcome of the game.  The likelihood of any Cardinal player getting a hit against Chapman was pretty low.  While Matheny certainly made bad decisions in both those games, the ultimate decider of the outcome was lack of offense sooner in the game.

Defensive miscues by Kolten Wong, Oscar Taveras and Jon Jay during this series also hurt the team’s chances.  Terrible BABIP luck in the form of aggressive defense by the Reds also took its toll.

The Cardinals begin a weekend series at Busch against the last place Colorado Rockies.  It is imperative for the Cardinals’ chances at the Division for them to get their act together now and win these games.  The Pirates are nipping at the Cardinals’ heels, and more bumbling and stumbling cannot happen.  Offense and defense must come through.

Matheny’s bad decisions are unfortunately here to stay.  I think we know that all too well.

 

Thank you for reading.

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1 Comment

  1. bw52

     /  September 12, 2014

    Jay`s miscue in CF was inexcuseable.Matt Adams and his .218 RISP continues to kill the Cards.Yes he pops a HR every now and then but he simply fails in too many clutch situationsHolliday continues to be a GIDP machine.Bourjos has a good series versus Milwaukee then rides the pines in Cincy in favor of the feeble banjo bat,rag arm CF Jon Jay.
    Jon Jay might hit .310 but he probably won`t even score 60 runs.Taveras shows signs of waking up and Grichuk looks like a new hitter since his recall.The Reds series was terribly frustrating because Cards looked clueless,heartless and inept.The pitching has held up more often than the offense which was MIA in Cincy mostly.Another thing to think about for 2015…..Outfield defense……..Somebody better teach whoever plays OF to throw and throw effectively to the cutoff man since none of the current starters could throw out a slug on the bases or at homeplate.It`s bad enough having statue Holliday,clueless Jay and rookie Taveras patrolling the OF while the opposition runs rampant and score easily on short flies .
    Sorry about the rambling.Still ticked off about this team and its halfass attitude and lack of heart.

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