One thing that stood out in the Cardinals’ extra innings win yesterday was the performance of starting pitcher Adam Wainwright. He clearly didn’t have his best stuff, and lasted only 5.2 innings, his shortest outing of the season. Recall, in his previous start on May 12th in Milwaukee, he made it through 6. Both of those starts weren’t typical for the Cardinals’ ace.
This got me thinking about the bullpen. Any time the starters can’t go deep into games, it puts additional stress on the pen, forcing them to get nine or more outs, night after night. We all know how things turn out when the relievers are overworked.
So, now that the Cards have gone through the rotation nine times, I decided to take a closer look at the starters’ innings pitched. Here they are, listed with the number of innings in each of their starts:
Adam Wainwright 8, 7, 7.2, 7, 9, 6.1, 7, 6, 5.2
Kyle Lohse 5, 7, 5.1, 7, 4, 6, 6, 4, 7
Todd Wellemeyer 5, 7, 6, 7, 6, 6, 5, 6, 7
Braden Looper 6, 5.2, 5, 3, 7, 6, 8.1, 6, 6
Joel Pineiro 3.2, 6.1, 7, 7, 3, 6.1, 5
Brad Thompson 6.2, 4
[Note: I excluded Thompson’s innings in relief.]
That yields the following inning totals and averages per start:
Wainwright 63.2, 7.07
Lohse 51.1, 5.70
Wellemeyer 55, 6.11
Looper 53, 5.89
Pineiro 38.1, 5.48
Thompson 10.2, 5.33
In 45 games to this point, the starters pitched 272 innings with an ERA of 3.90. I was curious to find out how they stacked up against the rest of the league. The Cardinals lead the NL in innings pitched by a starter, but they’ve also played more games than any other team as well.
So if we look at just the average number of innings per start, as a staff, the Cardinals sit at 6.04. Here are the numbers from the rest of the league:
St. Louis 6.04
San Diego 5.90
New York 5.83
San Francisco 5.55
Los Angeles 5.40
To my surprise, the Cardinals ranked at the top of the league. I watch the games every day, and I guess it’s easy to remember all of the shorter outings. I know the Cards’ starters began the year hot, but seemed to have come back down to Earth lately. When I think of the different starting staffs around the league, I don’t associate the Cardinals’ with the better ones.
While we may have been anxiously awaiting the mending pitchers when the season began, the current staff is making it tough to think about the others. It will be interesting to see how they’ll hold up over the long haul.