St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook: Week of March 26 – April 1

photo: Greg Holland (Russell Lansford/USA TODAY Sports Images)

Cardinals ink their closer

In something of a surprise move to St. Louis Cardinals fans, an announcement came just prior to the first pitch in the opening game of the season that the Redbirds had signed free agent relief pitcher Greg Holland.  The one year deal is worth $14 million plus incentives.  It became official on Saturday and the right hander was optioned to the Palm Beach Cardinals to prepare to join the team, no sooner than 10 days.

Greg Holland (Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images)

The 32-year old comes to the Cardinals on the heels of the hamstring injury to Luke Gregerson, who was placed on the 10 day disabled list and whose return to the team is roughly mid-to-late April.  Holland played for the Colorado Rockies in 2017, after missing all of 2016 with Tommy John surgery.  The right-hander was named NL Comeback Player of the Year last season and recorded an NL best (tied) 41 saves with an ERA of 3.31 in 57 1/3 innings pitched.  Holland had a better first half of the season, where he saved 28 games, while only recording 13 saves in the second half.

Prior to joining Colorado, Holland pitched six seasons with the Kansas City Royals.  His career ERA is 2.60 and his K/9 rate is 11.9.

The Cardinals gave up their second-round pick, #59 overall, in the 2018 draft to sign Holland, who earlier turned down the $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Rockies.  Under the new CBA, the Cardinals will not be able to make a second qualifying offer to Holland, who will become a free agent at the end of the season.

Spring Training game recaps

Monday, March 26 – Cardinals 5 at Blue Jays 3

In the first of two final spring games, the Cardinals defeated the Blue Jays in Olympic Stadium in Montreal.  Michael Wacha got a final tune-up by pitching four scoreless innings, allowing three hits, fanning six and walking one.  Matt Bowman and Brett Cecil followed with a scoreless inning each.  Mike Mayers allowed two runs in his inning pitched.  Mayers was charged with a blown save, but also received the win.  Tyler Lyons gave up the third and final Jays run in his one inning following Mayers.  Dominic Leone pitched a scoreless ninth and earned his fourth spring save.

The Redbirds offense began via a fifth inning solo home run off the bat of Marcell Ozuna.  Jedd Gyorko added an RBI single.  In the eighth, Patrick Wisdom plated a run on a double, Francisco Pena hit an RBI single, and Max Schrock drove in a run on a triple.  Wisdom went 2-for-3; prospect Schrock was 2-for-2.

Randy Arozarena stole second and third base, and Gyorko stole second.

Tuesday, March 27 – Cardinals 0 at Blue Jays 1

In the second of the two-game spring series, the Cardinals lost in a walkoff to the Jays.  It was scoreless until two outs in the bottom of the ninth, when Vladimir Guerrero Jr’s home run ended the contest.  The long ball was hit off Jack Flaherty.  Flaherty entered the game in the seventh inning, following three scoreless innings of pitching from starter Luke Weaver, and three scoreless innings from Miles Mikolas.

The Cardinals offense managed five hits total.  Tommy Pham and Yadier Molina each went 2-for-2, with the catcher collecting the only extra base hit, a double. Ozuna contributed a single.

Patrick Wisdom stole his second base of the spring.

Wednesday, March 28 – No game

Regular Season Game Recaps

Thursday, March 29 – Cardinals 4 at Mets 9

Jose Martinez (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

In the first game of the 2018 regular season, the Cardinals lost to the Mets at Citi Field in New York.    Carlos Martinez had a poor start, pitching 4 1/3 innings and giving up five runs, four earned, on four hits.  The right hander struck out five and walked six.  Reliever Matt Bowman entered in the fifth, but was only able to record one out, as he surrendered three additional runs before being replaced by Brett Cecil, who got the final out of the inning.  Mike Mayers and Jordan Hicks added a scoreless inning each. Sam Tuivailala pitched the eighth inning and relinquished an additional Mets run.   Martinez got the loss.

Jose Martinez went 3-for-4, including a solo home run in the sixth inning.  Also hitting the long ball was Yadier Molina, who hit a two run shot in the second.  All four Cardinals runs were driven in by the pair.

Martinez committed a throwing error, his first of the season.

Friday, March 30 – Off day

Saturday, March 31 – Cardinals 2 at Mets 6

The second game of the series followed an off day Friday.  The Cardinals were defeated by the Mets by a score of 6-2.  Jose Martinez again contributed to the offense in a big way, going 2-for-3 and driving in the first of two Redbirds runs on a single in the fourth inning.  The second and final run came on a solo home run by Matt Carpenter in the eighth.  Molina was 2-for-4.

Starter Michael Wacha, like Martinez in the opener, did not finish the fifth inning.  Wacha pitched 4 2/3 innings, giving up four runs on five hits while fanning two and walking two.  Wacha took the loss, his first of the season.   Bud Norris followed with 1 1/3 scoreless innings of relief.  Ryan Sherriff began the seventh, gave up one run, and was replaced with one out by Sam Tuivailala.  Tuivailala got the final two outs of the seventh, and began the eighth, giving up two singles and recording one out.  Tyler Lyons gave up a double to score a run charged to Tuivailala, then finished the eighth inning.

Tommy Pham had an outfield assist.

Sunday, April 1 – Cardinals 5 at Mets 1

Paul DeJong (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

The Cardinals prevented a Mets sweep with a victory on Sunday.  Starter Luke Weaver pitched five tough innings, giving up one run on five hits.  The young right hander struck out three and walked three.    Matt Bowman sailed through two scoreless innings of relief.  Jordan Hicks pitched a scoreless eighth, while Dominic Leone followed with a scoreless ninth.  In his 2018 debut, Weaver was the winning pitcher.

Marcell Ozuna and Paul DeJong were the offensive stars.  Ozuna went 3-for-5 with two RBI.  DeJong hit the long ball, twice, in his first career multi-home run game.  Both were with the bases empty – in the second and eighth innings. Molina also contributed a solo shot in the fourth, his second home run of the series.  Tommy Pham was 2-for-3 with two runs scored.

Pham stole his first base of the season, as did Jedd Gyorko.  Weaver picked a runner off first base.

Big Picture

Starting pitching was the issue in the Mets series, with neither Martinez nor Wacha making it through the fifth inning.  Weaver finished the fifth, but the outing was a grind for the young right hander, who wasn’t as sharp as he had been throughout the spring.  Though there were a few tough outings for some relievers, the bullpen was not an issue.  The offense picked up in the last game of the series, but mostly came from the same hitters throughout after strikeouts were a big problem in Games 1 and 2.  Leadoff hitter Dexter Fowler has yet to record a hit in 13 at-bats.

The Cardinals finished the week 1-2 and are ahead of only the winless Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central standings.  With only three games into the season, the standings are of course, meaningless at this time. Next, the Cardinals meet the Brewers for a three-game series.  The Brewers swept the Padres in a three-game set to start their season on the right foot.

NL Central Standings

W L % GB
Milwaukee 3 0 1.000
Pittsburgh 3 0 1.000
Chicago Cubs 2 2 0.500 1.5
St. Louis 1 2 0.333 2
Cincinnati 0 3 0.000 3

Who’s Hot

Yadier Molina (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

Over the first two games (does not contain recent Sunday game results):

Jose Martinez has an OPS of 1.893.  He has one HR and three RBI.

Yadier Molina has an OPS of 1.357.  He has one HR and two RBI.

Matt Carpenter has an OPS of 1.000.  He has one HR, one double, and one RBI.

Bud Norris has an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 1.50.

Jordan Hicks has an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 1.00.

Who’s Not

Over the first two games (does not contain recent Sunday games):

Dexter Fowler has an OPS of 0.00.  He is hitless in 13 ABs.

Kolten Wong has an OPS of .143.

Carlos Martinez has an ERA of 8.31 and a WHIP of 2.31.

Matt Bowman has an ERA of 81.00 and a WHIP of 12.00

Ryan Sherriff has an ERA of 27.00 and a WHIP of 6.00.

A Look at Cardinals Lineups

The lineups over the first two games (does not contain recent Sunday game):

The leadoff hitter has been Dexter Fowler.
The number two hitter has been Tommy Pham.
The number three hitter has been Matt Carpenter.
The cleanup hitter has been Marcell Ozuna.
The fifth hitter has been Jose Martinez.
The sixth hitter has been Yadier Molina.
The seventh hitter has been Paul DeJong.
The eighth hitter has been Kolten Wong.

On Sunday, Jedd Gyorko batted eighth and played third base, with Carpenter moving to second.

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.

Transactions

3/28 The Cardinals placed RHP Adam Wainwright on the 10 day disabled list retroactive to March 26, 2018.  Left hamstring strain.

3/28 The Cardinals placed RHP Alex Reyes on the 10 day disabled list retroactive to March 26, 2018. Right elbow.

3/28 The Cardinals placed RHP Luke Gregerson on the 10 day disabled list retroactive to March 26, 2018.  Left hamstring strain.

3/28 The Cardinals designated RHP Josh Lucas and 2B Breyvic Valera for assignment.

3/28 The Cardinals optioned RHP John Brebbia to the Memphis Redbirds.

3/28 The Cardinals selected the contract of C Francisco Pena from the Memphis Redbirds.

3/28 The Cardinals selected the contract of RHP Jordan Hicks from the Springfield Cardinals.

3/28 The Cardinals recalled RHP Jack Flaherty from the Memphis Redbirds.

3/31 The Cardinals placed LHP Brett Cecil on the 10 day disabled list.  Left shoulder strain.

3/31 The Cardinals transferred RHP Alex Reyes from the 10 day disabled list to the 60 day disabled list.  Right elbow.

3/31 The Cardinals signed free agent RHP Greg Holland.

3/31 The Cardinals optioned RHP Greg Holland to the Palm Beach Cardinals.

3/31 The Cardinals traded RHP Josh Lucas to the Oakland Athletics for RHP Casey Meisner.

3/31 The Cardinals recalled LHP Ryan Sherriff from the Memphis Redbirds.

4/1 The Cardinals traded 2B Breyvic Valera to the Los Angeles Dodgers for CF Johan Mieses.

Injury Report

Adam Wainwright (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

RHP Adam Wainwright (left hamstring strain) was placed on the 10 day DL retroactive to 3/26.  Wainwright is expected to miss two starts and then rejoin the rotation.

LHP Luke Gregerson (left hamstring strain) was placed on the 10 day DL retroactive to 3/26.  Gregerson is expected to return to the roster sometime in late April, but will likely require a minor league rehab stint first.

RHP Alex Reyes (right elbow) was placed on the 10 day DL retroactive to 3/26.  On 3/31, Reyes was transferred to the 60 day DL to open a roster spot for newly signed RHP Greg Holland.  Reyes cannot return to the active roster before late May.

LHP Brett Cecil (left shoulder strain) was placed on the 10 day DL.  No timetable has been set for Cecil’s return to the roster, though the injury is said to not be serious.

Looking Ahead

Following the series against the Mets in New York, the Cardinals travel to Milwaukee for three games against the Brewers.  Miles Mikolas is scheduled for the Monday start.  Jack Flaherty will make the start on Tuesday and Carlos Martinez on Wednesday.

The Redbirds return home to St. Louis on Thursday for Opening Day at Busch Stadium against the Arizona Diamondbacks.  This will be a three game series, with no game scheduled for Friday.  Starting pitchers will likely be Michael Wacha, Luke Weaver and Miles Mikolas.

The Brewers come to St. Louis on Monday, April 9 for a three game series.  Following, the Cardinals go the Cincinnati for a weekend series against the Reds.

The Cardinals’ regular season schedule can be found here.

Blast from the Past

This week’s history segment features the 1988 St. Louis Cardinals.  The 1988 season was the franchise’s 107th season and the 97th in the National League.

The 1988 Cardinals went 76-86 and finished the season fifth in the National League East, 25 games back of the New York Mets.  The manager was Whitey Herzog and the GM was Dal Maxvill.  The owner was Gussie Busch.

The Opening Day lineup against the Cincinnati Reds was Vince Coleman (LF), Ozzie Smith (SS), Tom Herr (2B), Bob Horner (1B), Willie McGee (CF), Terry Pendleton (3B), Tony Pena (C), Jim Lindeman (RF), and Joe Magrane (SP).

The longest losing streak was eight games, from July 4-15.  The longest winning streak was seven games, from September 5-11.  The highest winning margin was a 10-4 victory over the Reds on August 19.  The worst loss was a 21-2 drubbing by the Giants on July 9.  Splits were 41-40 at home and 35-46 on the road.

The top starting pitcher was Magrane, with a record of 5-9 and an ERA of 2.18, best in the NL.  The top offensive performer was Tom Brunansky, who hit .245/.345/.428, with 22 home runs and 79 RBI after being acquired in trade with the Minnesota Twins for Herr.

Ozzie Smith won a Gold Glove.

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