It's very early. But the Cardinals staff has looked shaky to say the least. Miles Mikolas has not quite returned to form, Flaherty has been solid, Hudson still looks a little timid, Wacha looked like a walk machine, and Waino righted the ship for anyone who cares to believe in him still.
By starters, here are the numbers for each so far:
1-1, 6.19 ERA over 16 innings in 3 games
3.86 ERA over 9.1 innings in 2 games started
1.54 ERA over 11.2 innings in 2 games started
0-1, 2.79 ERA over 9.2 innings in 2 games started
1-0, 4.50 ERA over 10 innings in 2 games started
My two biggest takeaways here are:
1) We can't seem to get our starters out of the sixth or seventh inning.
Mikolas is averaging about 5.1 innings per start, going six innings in his latest start giving up 3 runs en route too a victory over the Dodgers. He gave up five runs over five innings to Milwaukee in his first start, and three runs over 5 innings to Pittsburgh. Not quite what you hope for out of your "Ace".
Flaherty started off the year with a 4.1 inning outing against Milwaukee giving up four runs in that game. He then five flat in his second start with no earned runs, giving the Cardinals a good chance but running his pitch count sky high early with six strikeouts and two walks.
Wacha has maybe, dare I say, looked the best all around in his body of work by the numbers, but he flirted with disaster if you remember in his start against San Diego. What is stunning here is that Wacha has struck out 7 in each start, and added eight walks against San Diego, but he still managed to get into the 6th in that game.
Hudson has looked timid to me by eye test, but that doesn't mean I think he has been bad. His stuff still looks good to me, and the numbers don't necessarily disagree. Hudson has three earned runs on the year, in a short start to open the year against Milwaukee, but looked nice out of the pen and then again in the starters role against the Dodgers, but he has struggled to make it out of even in the fifth inning early on. I truly believe the rotation is where he is best, so I want to see him get more innings there.
Waino might be the guy I'm rooting for the most this season, so I will admit my bias. But I don't think I'm alone in this hope. The early results are.... well just that, early. There's no way to form any coherent thought on who he is still, because he was flat out bad in Pittsburgh, giving up four earned runs with four walks in that start in only four innings, but he bounced back well against Sand Diego, giving up one run over six strong while striking out nine and walking no one. So I think it is safe to say that the jury is still out here, but maybe he's still got enough to be a good or above average fifth man in the rotation?
2) We still don't need Keuchel or Kimbrel.
While the Cardinals are only carrying one lefty on the roster at the moment - Andrew Miller who currently has an 8.31 ERA in 4.1 innings - it does not make a lot of sense to me for the Cardinals to make a stab at Keuchel. Maybe I'm just too pessimistic about his talent. I still believe in Waino after all, and Keuchel is a better bet. I can admit that. But Keuchel will demand more money, will take longer to turn around, and frankly fills a hole that in my opinion doesn't truly exist.
We have a very good lefty in Gomber who is sitting in Triple-A currently getting innings there. We have Leone and Brebbia who don't have bad numbers against lefties - Leone with a 0.00 ERA in 3.2 innings against lefties, Brebbia with a 0.00 ERA against lefties in 2.1 innings pitched. But this doesn't mean those last two can't fall apart.
With Miller seemingly unreliable as of right now, it couldn't hurt to bring in another veteran lefty to fill out the bullpen. And as you see above, Keuchel offers you a mid-three's ERA, and the ability to throw a higher volume of innings while bringing a veteran presence to the locker room. I would still rather see Gomber come back up. If that happens and we still need a lefty, then it may be a no brainer to sign Keuchel.
The Cardinal - who have been unwillingly to part with money on the free agent market - seem like one of the last teams vying to get Keuchel, especially since relegating him to a bullpen job would not be high on his list of desires for a new team. Although there hasn't really been a market for him at his asking price either, so he may have no room for negotiation.
Kimbrel would be another option to shore up the bullpen and continue looking for ways to improve, but at some of the asking prices that have been floated around, it's hard for me to reason why that kind of a signing makes any sense. We all saw him in the postseason last year.
As people so often point out with Kimbrel, he has been a 30-50 saves guy consistently over the course of his career, and couldn't hurt our bullpen. While I don't disagree with that, I again simply think it comes down to money, and we don't NEED Kimbrel that bad yet. Even if some fans might want him. Small contingent.
The Cardinals announced today that they have signed Matt Carpenter to an extension that could keep him a Cardinal through 2022.
I can't hate this move as a Cardinal fan, and as a fan of who Matt Carpenter has been the last few years, including his monster second half last year. I did get somewhat nervous this afternoon, thinking about the importance of this season for Marcell Ozuna, and seeing how many Cardinals were getting contract extensions. The idea that their 3 p.m. presser would be about an Ozuna extension terrified me greatly.
But again, Carpenter has been one of the faces of this team, a mainstay almost since he came to the big leagues, and I am happy to see him get this extension.
Objectively, Carp hitting .214 with one home run and 3 RBIs sounds terrible after last year, but with Carpenter looking to be safely locked into the leadoff spot again, it would make sense some of those categories would digress. He has also scored 7 times this year, with an OBP of .320, slugging .381, for a .701 OPS. Lots of numbers.
Point here again is probably that it is just too early.