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Looking at the Cardinal Starters

Adam Wainwright has pitched as well as expected.
Adam Wainwright has pitched as well as expected.
Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The Cardinals rotation has moved through three cycles as of yesterday, and there has been mixed results. Adam Wainwright has been his usual self outside of a few extra walks. Michael Wacha has kept his runs down and is striking out almost a hitter an inning. Lance Lynn has been giving up runs, but hasn’t taken a loss. Joe Kelly has been exceptional until his injury on Wednesday. Shelby Miller has struggled to prevent runs and has been hurt by the long ball again.

What do the numbers show?

Lynn is getting run support again, while Miller hasn’t. The team is averaging 6.00 runs per game when Lynn is the starter; Wainwright is second at 4.00. Wacha (3.67), Kelly (3.33) and Miller (2.67) round out the rotation. This will probably change frequently over the next few weeks as the sample size is pretty low and fluctuations will happen more drastically.

Based off the average innings per game, the bullpen is going to tire fast; this should be a concern for the team as the bullpen has had some rough periods. Wainwright is averaging 7.00 innings per start; that’s where the team will want all starters to be, since that will limit the exposure of relief pitchers. Wacha has been good for 6.33 innings per start; it’s not bad considering he’s in his first full season in the Majors. Lynn is 3rd at 6.00 per start; the team would probably hope that Lynn could get another inning on average at this point of his career. Miller has averaged 5.70 innings, but that has been due to 2 outings that were not good. Kelly is at the bottom with 5.03, but this is skewed due to Wednesday’s start that was shorted to 4 innings; Kelly was pitching effectively until his injury and probably had at least another 3 innings in him.

2 starters are striking out more than a hitter per inning: Lance Lynn (11.00 K/9) and Adam Wainwright (10.29). This is typical for both starters, as they tend to have healthy strikeout totals. Michael Wacha is just below them with 8.53 K/9; this is lower than last year, but it’s early in the season and hitters could be adjusting to Wacha since there is more of a scouting report on him this year. Miller’s K/9 is surprising as he’s gotten quite a few strikeouts in his rookie season; he’s sitting at 7.28. Kelly typically doesn’t get many strikeouts, at least compared to the other 4 in the rotation; he’s striking out 5.29 per 9 innings.

Walks have been one of the areas that have been surprising this season for Miller; the pitcher’s control has been erratic so far and he’s walking 4.68 batters per 9 innings. This has contributed to the team high 9 earned runs. The rest of the rotation is below 3.00 BB/9, with Wacha leading the way at 1.42.

Another concern with Miller has been his high home run total; as already mentioned, Miller has had a history giving up the long ball. This season, he’s allowing 2.60 per 9 innings. He has more homers allowed (5) than the rest of the rotation combined (4). The closest starter to him is Lynn, who’s allowing 1.00 homers per 9 innings. Kelly hasn’t allowed a homer yet.

This will be the first cycle of the season that a starter will miss, since Kelly has been put on the 15-day DL with a strain hamstring. The Cardinals will either look at promoting Tyler Lyons or shifting Carlos Martinez out of the bullpen; the team has until Monday to decide on which move they’ll make.