On Deck: The Cardinals So Far
“This can’t be right. Holliday’s hitting .358 and is second on the team with 10 RBI.”
And that is true; I can’t argue that. But of Holliday’s 19 hits, only two so far have been for extra bases. Holliday is typically slotted into the third spot, which is reserved for your team’s best hitter. And Matt’s certainly hitting well, but the simple truth is that so far, he isn’t slugging, which is a concern. His isolated slugging so far is .075, which is fine if you’re a middle infielder or a speedy outfielder. But it’s well below his career average of .214, and his average is bound to regress, as his BABIP is an unsustainable .439. Holliday is just one of five players to hit 20 home runs, 30 doubles, and drive in 75 runs in nine consecutive seasons (along with Albert Pujols, Stan Musial, Miguel Cabrera, and Manny Ramirez), but this streak is in jeopardy of ending this year at the pace he’s going.
That’s not to say he’s bound to be a singles hitter the rest of the way. His ground-ball rate is much higher than it usually is, and his fly-ball rate is much lower; these two are bound to average out. He is hitting line drives 26.2% of the time (career 19.3%), which is always a good sign. Like I said, it’s still very early, so this will probably average out a bit as the season goes on, but it is something to keep an eye on.
So too, has his power disappeared. Once a viable offensive threat, Molina’s slugging has dropped every year from a career-high .501 in 2012 to .373 so far this year. Once a viable candidate to hit sixth or even fifth in the lineup, Mike Matheny’s dropped Molina down to seventh, where he has appeared to be more comfortable in a limited sample size (.739 OPS in ten games hitting seventh, .633 in three games hitting sixth). His isolated slugging is down to .078, below his career average of .118, and his line drive rate is also down. Defensively, he’s still the best in the game, but you have to wonder if the immense workload he’s carried over the course of the last decade is finally taking its irreversible toll, or if the last season and a half has just been a bit of a speed bump.
Okay, I’ll be honest, I didn’t see this happen live Saturday. I was attending the wedding of a dear friend, and I may have had a few too many in the span of a few hours. Watching the replay the next morning, though, I couldn’t help but have a sinking feeling in my stomach. Finally, after having an MRI done, they confirmed our worst fears: Waino is dunzo for 2015.
For now, the team is optimistic he’ll make a full return in 2016, as the expected recovery time is anywhere from 9-12 months. Knowing Wainwright’s work ethic, I’d guess he’ll be back before May next year. The question remains whether he’ll be as effective as he has been before the injury, as Phillies fans can attest that this isn’t always the case (hello, Ryan Howard).
The question for this season, though, is: who takes his place? It was announced tonight that Tim Cooney, who was slated to start for Memphis, was scratched from his start. Presuming he wasn’t injured, he will be added to the 40-man roster while Adam is transferred from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day. How long he stays up may depend on the return of Marcos Gonzales, who’s currently on the disabled list at Memphis with a shoulder injury. Other candidates should Cooney falter include Tyler Lyons, John Gast, and Zach Petrick. Jaime Garcia is a darkhorse as well, but given his history of shoulder issues, I would legitimately be surprised if he returns to throw another pitch for the Cardinals.
A bit of minor trivia, but a pair of Cardinals made their major league debuts recently, and one of them was rather historic.
With his appearance on Friday night, Mitch Harris became the first graduate of a service academy to play in the major leagues since 1921. Harris’ story got a bit of national attention in spring training when he appeared to have a legitimate shot of making the team. Mitch graduated from the Naval Academy in 2008 and was actually drafted by the Braves in 2007, and then by the Cardinals in 2008. He served for almost five years before his term ended, and he joined the Cardinals’ organization late in 2013. Harris made his debut Saturday and pitched 1.1 scoreless innings.
On the other end of the battery, catcher Cody Stanley was called up to provide some backup after Yadier Molina exited the game early on Friday after taking a foul off the leg. Stanley made his debut Sunday and hit a single in a pinch-hitting appearance, eventually scoring a run.
Welcome to the majors, gentlemen. Here’s to a long and successful career for each of you.
The Cardinals host Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Chicago in an 11-game home stand.