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Entries in St. Louis Cardinals (38)

Wednesday
Dec052012

Randy Choate is quite a Card

Who do lefties hate more: Grover Norquist or Randy Choate?

Lefty relief specialist Randy Choate is on his way to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Check out his 2012 splits and you’ll see why it is a huge pick-up for the Cardinals ‘pen.

SplitGPAABRH2B3BHRBBSOSO/BBBAOBPSLGOPS
vs RHB as LHP 38 52 40 3 13 1 0 0 9 8 0.89 .325 .471 .350 .821
vs LHB as LHP 72 116 101 13 16 3 0 1 9 30 3.33 .158 .243 .218 .461


Provided by Baseball-Reference.comView Original Table  Generated 12/5/2012.

Choate appeared in 80 games and only allowed 29 hits, only five for extra-bases.

 

Choate threw 649 pitches, 417 were sinkers, 205 were sliders, and only six were fastballs.

Here's what Choate's sinker looked like against lefties

The one homer that Choate allowed was to Miguel Montero on August 1, on a 3-2 sinker, that was more stinker than sinker

The seventh pitch of that at bat was right in Montero's wheel house.

Of course, it's unfair to highlight Choate's one mistake, but when you are a machine against lefties it is the unusual that is more interesting than the usual.

This should prove to be a good pick-up for the Cards giving them another lefty to compliment Marc Rzepczynski and Choate is much easier to spell and pronounce.
 

 

Wednesday
Oct242012

Cain is Able: Gets it done on the Hill and at the Dish

The San Fransisco Giants completed a three game run against the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals to punch their ticket to the World Series, and they did it on the back of their pitching staff. Zito and Vogelsong spun two gems to force a game seven, and Matt Cain took over the rest. 

Let's do an inning by inning breakdown of how Cain stiffled the Cards.

 

1st INNING

Cain struck out Jon Jay swinging with a nasty 2-seamer at the letters. He gave up a bloop single to Beltran, but managed to strand him in scoring position with two weak fly balls.

 

2nd INNING

The second was a little shakier for Cain, as he allowed runners to get to second and third with two outs before getting Lohse to lineout on a great leaping catch by Brandon Crawford. Cain also showed off his skill at the plate in the bottom half, as he knocked a hanging slider back up the middle for an RBI single to put the Giants up 2-0.

 

3rd INNING

After allowing a leadoff single to Jay, Cain settled in and got three straight outs to retire the side. To this point in the game, Cain had  only struck out two batters, inducing five fly balls and only two ground balls while walking one. Let's take a look at his pitch location through the first three innings.

Cain's Pitch Locations through 3 innings of NCLS Game 7

Coupling this with the contact rate of hitters, it is easy to see that his command of his pitches was excellent.

 

Contact rate versus Cain through 3 innings of NLCS game 7As you can see, the spots that Cain was hitting most frequently were a virtual dead zone for Cardinals hitters through the first half of his outing. Even though Cain wasn't striking out hitters at a high rate, he maintained good control of all of his pitches and continued to induce outs.

 

4th INNING

Cain gave up a leadoff single before retiring three straight via fly out, strikeout, and ground out respectively. At this point, the game had gotten completely out of hand, with the Giants leading 7-0, it was Cain's job to get outs. When this happens, a pitcher can begin to focus on pounding the strikezone, attacking hitters, and pitching to contact. 

 

5th INNING

Cain retired the side in order, forcing a ground out, a lineout, and a fly out. One important thing to notice during this outing is the amount of line drive outs to this point in the game: three; any one of those could have landed for a hit early and completely changed the dynamic of the game, but every pitcher knows how to appreciate a hard hit ball right at a fielder.

 

6th INNING

After hitting the first batter and allowing yet another line drive out at the second baseman, Cain gave up a seeing-eye single through the left side of the infield. He settled down to punch out David Freese for his last batter of the day.

Cain's pitch location from the 4th to the 6th inning

As you can see, Cain's location shifted more towards the middle of the plate. Usually this is asking for trouble for a pitcher, but as mentioned previously, Cain had been given a big lead, and his excellent compliment of pitches led to a very successful outing and a trip to the World Series. This will be the Giants' second trip in the past three years, and they will ride the success of their starting pitchers as far as it will take them.

 

Friday
Oct192012

Zito Faces Long Odds vs. Cards' Lefty Killing Lineup

Two years ago, as the San Francisco Giants captured a World Series title, Barry Zito was baseball's equivalent of a healthy scratch. The lefty became a $20 million cheerleader after manager Bruce Bochy left him off the playoff roster. Tonight, however, Zito is tasked with saving the Giants' season in Game 5 of the NLCS. Considering Zito's major platoon split and the Cardinals' lefty-killing lineup, chances are St. Louis will crack open the bubbly.

Zito has been stellar against left-handed hitters this season, holding them to a .299 slugging percentage. That's far below the .378 average for lefty starters against lefty hitters. But righties are a different story:

Zito's slugging percentage by pitch location vs. righty hitters in 2012

Righties are slugging .468 against Zito, about 50 points above the MLB average for lefty starters against righty batters. The only qualified lefty starters with a higher opponent slugging percentage against righties are Randy Wolf, Joe Saunders, Bruce Chen, Derek Holland, J.A. Happ and Clayton Richard.

So, Zito gets smoked by righty hitters. What's even worse for the Giants is the Cardinals' lefty-thumping prowess. St. Louis' righty hitters are slugging .477 against lefty pitchers this season, ranking behind just the Milwaukee Brewers (.482) among all clubs. Allen Craig (.630 slugging percentage vs. lefties), Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina (.613 each) and Carlos Beltran (.500) have inflicted the most pain on southpaws.

Good luck, Barry. You'll need it.

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