Continuing the pleasant early trend of excellent starting pitching, Todd Wellemeyer recovered from a bad opening start with 7 innings of 1 run ball, enabling the Cardinals to take a 2-1 decision in the opener against Arizona.
This marks the fifth quality start in a row, which, naturally enough, led to the Cardinals fifth win in a row.
Albert Pujols and Brian Barden provided all the scoring with solo home runs in the third and eighth innings. D-Back starter Doug Davis was just as tough as Wellemeyer, scattering seven hits over eight innings. He made two mistakes. Wellemeyer made one, and wriggled out of a couple of other tight corners.
St Louis, San Diego, and Toronto currently share the best record in baseball at 6-2. You would have won a lot of money if you bet those three teams would have the best record in baseball at this point.
It's pretty obvious a major reason the Cardinals are off to a fast start is the starting pitching. Let's take a look at the relievers; are they holding up their end of the bargain?
From the first week, here's the usage grid for the first week.
Of course, if that were at all legible you'd see what I mean.
Couple of notes. What you're looking at is the inning the pitcher entered and how many outs they recorded. For instance, McClellan on 6 April entered in the seventh inning and retired one batter, then pitched the eighth.
Most of the high leverage innings so far have been thrown by McClellan and Franklin, the horses from last year's bullpen. Thompson has the lion's share of the innings (5 of the 18 bullpen innings through Sunday), but all of those have been in games the Cardinals won in a blowout, or lost in a relative blowout. Reyes seems to have worked himself into leverage situations. Miller hasn't been used since 8 April (and that includes last night).
The bullpen stats, which I don't post here, show an ERA of over 4.00 for the year; but that number is really driven by Motte's bad outing on Opening Day, and the fact Thompson has surrendered 2 runs in each of his last 2 appearances. I like Brad Thompson, but early returns indicate he's the worst pitcher on the staff; LaRussa is using him exactly as he should (long man/mop up man).
Anyway, I thought this would be an interesting thing to track throughout the year. Of course, if the starters continue to throw like Wellemeyer did last night, this will be a very boring exercise.