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April 21, 2009
  
Upcoming Series: St. Louis Cardinals Pitchers
by: Alex Nelson on Apr 21, 2009 7:02 AM | Filed under: Articles

Hey! The Mets won a series! And I called it! Everybody’s (relatively) happy!

Actually, the happiness is a little bittersweet, because it’s growing increasingly apparent that the Mets’ troubles with hitting in scoring position isn’t going away. Even though they won their series with the Brewers, they scored only eight runs, and the Brewers scored just as many. The victories are nice, but they sure didn’t look dominant at any point during the series. Next up, the Mets (6-6) hit the road to play the St. Louis Cardinals (8-5). The Cards are tied with the Cubbies atop the NL Central, thanks to the league’s third-best offense so far and its sixth-best pitching staff. It’s still early, but the Cards have looked a little surprising early on.

Oliver Perez (1-1, 7.84) has the opener for the Mets. He’ll be followed by John Maine (0-1, 7.20), and Livan Hernandez (1-0, 4.63). The Cards will be countering with Todd Wellemeyer (1-1, 4.50) on Tuesday, Joel Pinero (2-0, 5.40) on Wednesday, and Kyle Lohse (2-0, 2.57) on Thursday.

Game 1: Todd Wellemeyer, RHP

What’s the Story? Wellemeyer put up a season that sort of slipped under the radar last year, going 13-9 with a very respectable 3.71 ERA. After spending several seasons as a mediocre middle reliever with the Cubs, Marlins, and Royals, the Cards decided to try him as a starter in the second half of 2007, and it’s worked out shockingly well. Whether the success is sustainable is anyone’s guess. His strikeout rate is okay but not good and can’t afford to slip much. The walk rate is very out-of-step with his career as a reliever. He doesn’t get a lot of groundballs. There are certainly some warning signs, but if he continues to keep the walks down, he’s got a good chance. Wellemeyer’s got a live arm: a low-to-mid-90’s fastball with lots of movement, a good slider, and a fair changeup.

Last Year: The Mets faced Wellemeyer once, on July 1st. They hit him very hard, knocking 12 hits for six runs over five innings of work. He had a lot of trouble getting his breaking stuff over and repeating his delivery, so the Mets hitters were just sitting fastball.

What to Expect: When Wellemeyer’s able to utilize his offspeed stuff to complement his mid-90s fastball, he can be a dangerous pitcher. But when he can’t throw the slider for strikes, hitters can look fastball. The fastball’s a good pitch, with both velocity and movement, but major league hitters can still catch up to it when they know it’s coming. Mets hitters need to be patient early on, figure out where his command stands, and then adjust their gameplan accordingly.

Game 2: Joel Pineiro, RHP

What’s the Story? Joel Pineiro enjoyed his first full season in St. Louis. And by “enjoyed” I mean went 7-7 with a 5.15 ERA, even losing his job as a regular in the starting rotation in August. At one point, way back when he was in Seattle, I was optimistic about Pineiro’s chances to be a very good starting pitcher, but that was a good five years ago. Since then, he’s gone 37-47 with a 5.34 ERA. Pineiro doesn’t have a blazing fastball–it hovers around 90–but has a pretty good slider, an okay curve, and a poor changeup.

Last Year: The Mets saw Pineiro twice, both times in July. He lasted five innings in the first outing, four in the second, and he wasn’t particularly effective in either of them. Over the nine innings he gave up a combined nine runs on 21 hits 13 of them singles. He walked only two and struck out six.

What to Expect: Pineiro’s got one thing going for him: outstanding control. He won’t walk many, and he doesn’t like pitching outside the strike zone, especially when he’s not ahead in the count. That does mean that he’ll be sending a lot of mediocre fastballs right down the middle of the plate, so hitters should be aggressive to take advantage. He’ll throw more changeups to lefties, but that doesn’t make much of a difference–righties hit him equally hard in 2008 (and historically harder throughout his career).

Game 3: Kyle Lohse, RHP

What’s the Story? Ah, hindsight is 20/20. A lot of teams had the opportunity to sign Lohse before 2008. He came out of the free agency gate making hefty contract demands but found himself unemployed as spring training demand. He took a one-year, $4.25 million deal, and it was one of the biggest bargains in baseball as Lohse went 15-6 with a 3.78 ERA over 200 innings. In the past, Lohse had always been maddeningly inconsistent for the Twins and Reds, looking like an ace some nights and a replacement-level starter on others. He has a low-90s fastball, two solid breaking balls–a slider and a curve–and an above average changeup.

Last Year: Lohse made two very different starts against the Mets last season. In the first, he was splendid, tossing seven innings of one-run (unearned) ball, walking two and striking out four. The second time, he had his worst start of the season. He went five innings, allowing seven runs on 11 hits. He only walked one, but also only struck out two and gave up three homeruns.

What to Expect: Lohse is once again off to a strong start. Like the first two pitchers the Mets will face, Lohse doesn’t put any runners on via the base on balls. His fastball has some natural sink to it, so he’ll get an above average number of groundballs, too. As for his breaking stuff, righties will see plenty of sliders, while he’ll try to backdoor the curveball against lefties. Lohse’s success on Thursday will depend on how well he hits his corners; if he catches too much of the plate, you could see a repeat of his second 2008 appearance against the Mets.

Overall

I really don’t have a good feeling about this series. The Mets aren’t hitting very well, they have three questionable guys throwing, and the Cardinals seem to be hitting the ball well right now. In fact, the Cardinals have the pitcher with the better ERA going all three days.

I’m thinking the bad Ollie is due on Tuesday, but John Maine will outpitch Pineiro who the Mets have had some success against in the past. In the rubber match, I like Lohse and the Cards.


11 Responses to “Upcoming Series: St. Louis Cardinals Pitchers”

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  1. Comment posted by pj on April 21, 2009 at 7:19 am (#958323)

    Alex, I like it better when you predict the Mets to take 2 of 3. Facts be damned!

    paging Good Ollie, paging Good Ollie!

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  3. Comment posted by Alex Nelson on April 21, 2009 at 8:36 am (#958327)

    Oh, all right. Here’s my pj-approved revisions:

    I really don’t have a good feeling about this series. Things would seem stacked against them: the Mets aren’t hitting very well, they have three questionable guys throwing, and the Cardinals seem to be hitting the ball well right now. In fact, the Cardinals have the pitcher with the better ERA going all three days.

    But facts be damned! I’m thinking the bad good Ollie is due on Tuesday, but and John Maine will outpitch Pineiro who the Mets have had some success against in the past. In the rubber match, I like Lohse and the Cards but fully expect them to get trashed as Livan Hernandez throws a three-hit shutout. Sweep!

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  5. Comment posted by Dep on April 21, 2009 at 9:23 am (#958350)

    hahahahahhaha

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  7. Comment posted by pj on April 21, 2009 at 9:45 am (#958378)

    we’re goin sweepin’

    sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep!

    this should make these features easier to write in the future.

  8. Comment posted by Danny on April 21, 2009 at 9:46 am (#958380)

    LOL Alex

    How sweep it is!

    (We’re going to win 2 of 3)

  9. Comment posted by 4thHorseman on April 21, 2009 at 1:59 pm (#958702)

    I like your analysis Alex. Very well thought out. I have to agree with you. I don’t see the mets winning this series. The mets starters are strugling right now and the Cardinals can hit.

  10. Comment posted by TheBigStapler on April 21, 2009 at 3:45 pm (#958836)

    I like Perez a lot against the Cardinals tonight. The Cardinals are struggling dramatically against left-handed pitchers and Perez is particularly effective in that role.

    Cardinals (2009):
    vs LHP: .256/.335/.389
    vs RHP: .311/.397/.538

    Oliver Perez (Career)
    vs LHB: 3.24 K/BB, .230/.316/.377
    vs RHB: 1.70 K/BB, .243/.345/.419

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  12. Comment posted by pj on April 22, 2009 at 5:24 am (#959926)

    poops

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  14. Comment posted by Simons on April 22, 2009 at 7:22 am (#959931)

    We know whose fault that was, you turtle fu€£er

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  16. Comment posted by pj on April 22, 2009 at 10:14 am (#960031)

    daniel murphy?

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  18. Comment posted by pj on April 24, 2009 at 7:17 am (#962097)

    poop cubed

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