The Cardinals lost to the Dodgers 3-0 on Monday night–trimming their National League Championship Series lead to just two games to one. The bats remained silent, the defense (Jon Jay‘s in particular) had some glaring miscues, and there was a rally-killing mental lapse by Daniel Descalso on the base-paths in the 5th inning.
However, I will not harp on any of these because I have already read enough about them, and I am sure you have as well. Thus, I have decided to focus on the one major positive from Monday night–Adam Wainwright‘s fantastic outing on the mound. What goes down as a loss in the box score was actually an ace-like performance from Wainwright and the the third straight quality start by Cardinals in the NLCS.
The final line for Wainwright in Game 3 looks like this: 7.0 innings pitched, 6 hits allowed, 2 earned runs, and 5 strikeouts. Yet, Wainwright deserved much better than this–particularly in the “hits allowed” and “earned run” categories–and the reasoning for this was already mentioned in my opening paragraph.
Breaking It Down:
I had noticed a trend in his pitching style this season, so I decided to manually break down every single pitch that he threw in the game to see if the data backed up my theory. By my count, Wainwright threw 33 curveballs, 30 cutters, 27 fastballs, and only one changeup.
As most of you already know, I use BrooksBaseball.net for much of my pitching data, but this time, I wanted to chart his pitching manually to check the accuracy of the site since I have had people come to me with doubts in the past. Predictably, we only had one disparity–I had one less cutter than they did–a pitch I classified as a fastball. Upon further review, they were likely correct which gives me confidence to continue to use their data in the future.
Now, back to my theory. Before last night’s game I was convinced that Wainwright rarely threw pitches that ended up in the strike zone, and if they did, they were likely on the corners. Well, after charting his pitches and looking at the data, this theory was shown to be true based on last night’s start. Here are the numbers:
As you can see, much of Wainwright’s pitching (84.6%) last night occurred either on the corners or on pitches out of the strike zone completely. This is crazy to think about considering he has recorded only 36 walks in 37 starts (regular season and postseason) in 2013.
My absolute favorite pitch sequence by Wainwright was his strikeout of Mark Ellis in the first inning, and you can see it detailed here:
As you can see, Wainwright struck out a batter that strikes out in less than 14% of his plate appearances during his 11-year career on six pitches–with only one of them being in the zone and even this one was squarely on the inside corner.
This sequence, along with the numbers in my table above, are a testament to just how nasty Wainwright’s stuff actually is out there on the mound. His curveball was dropping on average 6.42 inches last night. His fastball (4-seamer and 2-seamer) averaged 4.45 inches of tailing action. Lastly, his cutter (his second favorite pitch) had a perfect amount of late movement–breaking 1.61 inches away from righties and inside to lefties.
Wainwright is really fun to watch. He is a master craftsman when he is on the mound. Hitting is already difficult, yet Waino makes it even tougher on hitters with the location and movement of each one of his pitches. To the fans that were only able to check the box score from last night’s game, it may appear that Wainwright got roughed up a little bit–allowing six hits over seven innings and taking the loss. However, I hope that this post was able to clarify things a little bit. He was simply fantastic.
Finally, disregarding the poor defense and the base-running mistakes, if the Cardinals want to move past the Dodgers and compete for their 12th World Series title, the bats must wake up! I realize that the Dodgers have arguably 2-3 aces (Kershaw, Greinke, Ryu) on their staff, but averaging a mere 1.33 runs per game just does not get the job done–even with the fact that runs are scarce in the playoffs.
Let’s go Cards!
Until next time…
For more updates, follow me on Twitter: @stlCupofJoe
- Revisiting the deal that made Adam Wainwright a Cardinal (retrosimba.com)
- Cardinals suffer letdown in LA (stltoday.com)
- Dodgers vs Cardinals: A look at player development (cardinalsfarm.com)