Part of our duties with the wonderful United Cardinal Bloggers group include periodically helping out with the Bird’s Eye View newsletter, an email update we send out to preview each series with the precision and wobbly wit we’re all known for/will be known for once we take the world by storm. What follows is the first StanGraphs entry, and it may include more information about Jason Tyner than you would have initially expected. If you want to subscribe (you totally do), just let us know. Do it. DO IT!
Bird’s Eye View: May 2-May 5, 2013 AD
You know what feels good? Like, um, really good? Taking two out of three from the Reds. Sure, we’re still in the toddler stages of the 2013 season, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t relish victories against Brandon Phillips when they happen. The Cardinals will now set their sights on the Milwaukee Brewers after briefly being permitted to play a few games at home for once. Jaime Garcia was totally pumped about it.
How We Got Here
The Cardinals enter their series with the Brewers, who we’re told don’t actually brew anything at all, with a comforting record of 16-11 despite having multiple bullpen members with an ERA approaching (or exceeding) an even dozen, Pete Kozma playing shortstop, and names like Allen Craig and David Freese flashing Jason Tyner-level power. Jason Tyner existed, and we won’t let you forget it. Technically he still exists, just not within the baseball universe that happens to be the only habitable environment we concern ourselves with.
The Brewers stand proudly at 14-12 (and 9-6 at home) thanks to a whole lot of streaking, and we don’t mean the kind that Jason Tyner might do if he were to take some unfortunate pitcher deep in a storied comeback attempt. The Brewers began the season 2-8 before rattling off nine straight wins to surge above .500, and they’ve gone 3-3 since. They’re very much a part of the NL Central race even if they don’t project to figure as prominently in the proceedings as the Cardinals and Reds do. Let’s look at this thing game-by-game, sparing no gory details and making no more Jason Tyner references.*
There really isn’t a great explanation for just how successful Jake Westbrook has been this season, as he has walked as many as he’s fanned and owns a 3.64 FIP and 4.57 x FIP. Despite his relative mediocrity, Westbrook has the league’s finest ERA (0.98) and a fairly ridiculous ground ball rate. Wily Peralta’s first five starts in his second major league season have been pretty ugly thanks to a positively Westbrookian strikeout rate, though he does throw hard (his fastball has been averaging nearly 94 mph in ’13) and share a given name with the legendary Wily Mo Pena. This would be a nice jumping off point for the Cardinal offense to get going.
The recently departed (but not dead, so don’t take it that way) Kyle Lohse and recently anointed king Shelby Miller have already squared off once this season, and it was a real barn burner. I don’t even know what that means. Lohse was very solid in his previous start against the Cardinals, going seven innings while striking out a pair, walking no one, and allowing two runs on six hits. Despite a successful homecoming, Lohse was bettered by the Shelbster; the youngster allowed just one hit across seven innings while striking out eight and matching Lohse’s zero walks. What a monster. The whiff-prone Brewers could be in for another long evening if Miller’s stuff is on.
There was a time not so long ago when Yovani Gallardo appeared to be an ace in the making, and instead he’s probably settled in as a solid two starter. Gallardo’s personal problems haven’t derailed him—he’s actually been better since his DUI arrest—but he isn’t the intimidating force he so recently appeared to be. As for Adam Wainwright, he’s making that five-year extension look like a bargain so far in 2013. Wainwright has been worth 2.1 WAR so far thanks to an insane 1.29 FIP and 2.03 ERA. Did I mention he’s struck out 43 and walked just three in 44 1/3 IP? Because I totally should have.
Game Four, 5/5/13: Jaime Garcia looks to overcome road struggles, Dan McLaughlin’s unbridled love of Marco Estrada (1:10 PM CST).
The Fox Sports Midwest crew sure does like to rave about Marco Estrada’s ascension to Decent Starting Pitcher, but we’re having none of it. Garcia may be in Milwaukee and not St. Louis (we know this because, um, geography), but he’s a solid bet to end up on the right side of the ledger here. Garcia has been outstanding so far this season, so outstanding that one might even be inclined to believe he has a real left shoulder.
*Jason Tyner’s career line: .275/.314/.323 with exactly one home run in 1,467 PA. It should also be noted that he managed to go deep only thrice as a minor leaguer in 3,905 PA. Jason Tyner probably couldn’t clear the fences in MLB: The Show.
Stuff You Might As Well Know
Per WAR, Matt Carpenter is the most valuable offensive Cardinals thus far! He’s logged a full win above replacement thanks to a healthy mix of doubles, walks, and solid defensive work.
It kind of sucks that Matt Adams is on the disabled list; I was totally getting used to the whole “homering all the time” thing and I’ll be happy when we can see that hulking mass swing the bat once again. It shouldn’t be too much longer.
Jake Westbrook technically has a 9.1% walk rate as a hitter. Not kidding. Yeah, it’s just 11 PA, but it’s still something I’m going to keep an eye on.
Edward Mujica is working on a fancy 100% strand rate. If you’re on base when he’s in a game, apparently you aren’t scoring.
Conversely, if you get to face Mitch Boggs, Joe Kelly, or the recently-demoted Mark Rzepczynski, you’re totally scoring. Like over and over again.
Meet the Author
Whatever it is you just read was written by Brian Vaughan, editor and author at StanGraphs.com. You can tweet at him at @vaughanbasepct, yell at him via posting comments at StanGraphs, or have lunch with him by paying for it.