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Grantland Goes Deep On Cardinals Pitching

Jonah Keri of Grantland had an extensive look at the Cardinals and why pitchers continue to thrive 3 years after pitching guru Dave Duncan left the team.

Read the whole article HERE.

Three observations that were interesting? Why not.

1) Players are greedy… so take advantage:

“Major league hitters, like all human beings, are motivated by incentives, so when they come to the plate with runners in scoring position, they’re flooded with team incentives (a chance to put runs on the board and help produce a win), individual incentives (a chance to feel the rush of driving in a run), and financial incentives (even amid the advanced stats movement, RBIs still = $$$). Logically, then, the natural tendency in this case is for a hitter to swing the bat. The numbers confirm it: According to ESPN’s TruMedia system, hitters have swung away on the first pitch with runners in scoring position 31.6 percent of the time this year, compared to swinging at 26.8 percent of first pitches in non-RISP situations. If the first pitch is a fastball, that gap becomes even more pronounced, at 34.6 percent versus 27.9 percent.”

2) Pitch to the numbers, not the scouting:

“We spend a good deal of time and a great deal of effort preparing for each and every hitter,” Wainwright said. “That goes from the starting lineup all the way to the guys coming in off the bench. We know exactly what their approach is, what they’re trying to do, what they’re trying to accomplish. There are times where we’ll just stay with our strengths. But the numbers in certain situations don’t lie, and it’d be silly not to pitch to them.”

3) The bullpen coach is much more important than we thought:

“If you’ve got a reliever out in the bullpen getting ready to come in the game, he’s going to have questions,” Duncan said. “Is this guy going to swing at the first pitch? Can he hit the inside fastball? The breaking ball? The bullpen coach needs to know all of these things. He has to be as prepared as I am, as the starting pitcher is, as the catcher is. He has to be as aware of the opposition as all of us are when it comes to giving information to pitchers. I think that’s something that a lot of teams miss out on, that they don’t do. It’s a big advantage, when you use the bullpen coach that way.”

Ok, if you’ve made it to this point in the post, just go read the whole damn thing. Jonah’s a good baseball writer and you love the Cardinals. So it’s worth 5 minutes.

Photo: The Atlantic