Bernie’s Redbird Review: Notes On Albert Pujols, Nolan Gorman, Jordan Walker, Jordan Hicks + The Bullpen

THE REDBIRD REVIEW

The Cardinals (20-17) and Mets will finish their four-game streak at 12:10 p.m. today at Citi Field. The Mets have won two of their first three games.

Now that we’ve got the breaking news out of the way, let’s go…

Cardinals vs. winning teams: Wednesday’s 4-11 loss left the cards with an 8-9 record this season against opponents over .500. Not good. And the Mets (25-14) are one of the reasons the Cardinals have won four of their six games. If the Cards lose Thursday’s series finale, they’ll be 2-5 against the Mets this season. This is the final regular-season game between the teams in 2022.

road worries: The Cardinals are 4-5 in their last nine games away from Busch Stadium. A loss to the Mets today would leave the Redbirds with a 10-10 road ledger for the season.

Is Jason Hicks a Starting Pitcher? Sorry, but I can’t join those who purr about his work as a starting pitcher. I know it will take time for Hicks to fully transition from reliever to starter and I also understand the importance of patience. I even wrote that we should give Hicks time. OK. But shouldn’t he be better?

Hicks wasn’t effective in Wednesday’s start against the Mets, needing 82 pitches to go through four wild innings, including two hits, two earned runs, three walks, two hit batters and one wild pitch. Hicks couldn’t keep his form; Its cumbersome mechanics left it all over the place when it was delivered and landed. Only 39 of its 82 pitches were strikes.

In six starts this season, Hicks has a 4.98 ERA in 21.1 innings. He has allowed 15 hits and 13 walks. Among MLB starting pitchers who pitched 21 innings this season, Hicks’ strikingly high 13.8 percent walk rate ranks 134th out of 136. The lack of control has the onbase percentage against him 0.351 shrunk; that ranks 124th among the 136 starters.

On the plus side, Hicks has a high groundball rate as a starter (52.7%) and has fought his way out of jams by limiting hitters to a .200 average with runners in scoring position.

Hicks works at such a slow and painfully boring tempo, I’m not sure why he doesn’t up the tempo to get into a rhythm.

TJ McFarland, a year later: It was a miserable Wednesday for the St. Louis bullpen. Rookie Jake Walsh was pelted for four earned runs without retiring a mead. But left TJ McFarland is clearly the biggest problem in the bullpen. With the Cardinals only two runs behind (6-4), the Mets put the cards down by beating McFarland by five runs late in the eighth game. The disaster left him with a 9.00 ERA on the season and opponents are batting .373 with a 1.078 OPS against him.

Last season for the Cardinals McFarland allowed 11 earned carries in 38.2 innings for a 2.56 ERA. He has already given up more earned runs (13) this season, but in just 13 innings.

McFarland’s groundball rate for the Cardinals last year was 62.3 percent; it has fallen to 45.7% this season. Compared to last season, the hit rate against McFarland has increased by 12 points to 58 percent.

Equally alarming is McFarland’s performance against LH batters. This should be his forte, but so far this year lefties are 10-19 against McFarland (.526 average) and have a whopping 1.361 OPS. In 2021, LH batters went just 8 for 48 against McFarland (.167) and had a .496 OPS.

Speed ​​on McFarland’s Sinker has dropped this season. Last year, LH batters hit just .128 against his sinker; This season, they’ve penalized the field for nine hits in 13 at-bats (.692), including a three-pointer and a homer. Last season, McFarland neutralized RH batters with his switch (.143 average), but this season they’ve hit the switch for four hits – including two homers in a double – in nine at-bats.

Last offseason, the Cardinals made the decision to sign McFarland to a one-year contract that will see him earn $2.5 million in 2022. He will be 33 next month.

On the trail of Albert Pujols: Congratulations to The Machine on his two-hit night against Max Scherzer, taking his career total to 3,314 hits. There’s some confusion as to where Pujols ranks among the all-time hit leaders… depending on which historical record you choose, he’s either 12th or 10th. Elias lists him as 10th, so we can go with that. It really doesn’t matter because even quoting baseball’s reference list, Pujols only needs six more hits to surpass Eddie Collins and Paul Molitor to move up to 10th in MLB history.

May 18, 2022; New York City, New York, United States; St. Louis Cardinals-designated hitter Albert Pujols (5) hits a single in the fourth inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Another milestone to keep an eye on: total bases. Right now, Pujols ranks fourth in MLB history with 6,063 total bases, but needs just 18 more bases to move past Willie Mays and behind Henry Aaron (6,856) and Stan Musial (6,134) for third all-time .

Pujols made his 15th start of the season at Citi Field last night. And in the 15 starts, Pujols has hit .283 with a .400 onbase percentage, .457 slug, .857 OPS, two doubles, two homers and eight RBI.

This season, Pujols is 4 for 31 against RH Pitching (.129) but has drawn seven walks. He was in a 1-for-20 drought against RH until he lofted two singles against Scherzer. The first singles drove home two runs to put the Cardinals in a 2-2 tie. And after the second single, Pujols stole a base for the first time this season and has 117 steals for his career. The younger Pujols had three seasons with more than 14 stolen bases: 16 steals in 2005 and 2009 and 14 steals in 2010.

Dylan Carlson, climbing out: While Carlson’s totals for the season are disappointing (.649 OPS), it’s best to note his current trend. Carlson had three hits Wednesday, including a double against the Mets. For the month of May it beats .305 with .858 OPS. And in his last 13 games, Carlson is batting .327, coming on base at a 35.3% rate and batting .551. That adds up to .904 OPS in his last 51 record appearances.

The outfield of St. Louis has some catching up to do offensively. At the start of Thursday’s game, Cardinal outfielders averaged .229, .286 OBP, and .348 slug. Among outfield groups, their .634 OPS collective ranks 11th in the NL and 21st in the majors. That’s no surprise given Tyler O’Neill’s .552 OPS and Harrison Bader’s .625 OPS.

Nolan Arenado: The third baseman gave the Cardinals a chance for a comeback win by hitting a two-run homer to cut the NYM lead to 6-4. Among National League hitters, Arenado ranks second in RBI (31), second in homers with nine, second in WAR (2.3), fourth in slugging (.597), and fifth in OPS (.962) .

Cooling? Rookie Juan Yepez is 0 for 8 in the New York Series so far. In his last six games, Yepez is 3 to 22 (.136) with .375 OPS. But he ran three times and punched three times during this mini-distance. Yepez is in the starting lineup on Thursday and plays at left field.

Corey Dickerson, still fighting: The designated hitter and outfielder with LH wings went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts Wednesday — and is 1-for-7 with four strikeouts in the current series. He’s batting .185 for the season with .455 OPS. Among MLB hitters with at least 70 plate appearances this year, Dickerson’s anemic slugging percentage (.215) ranks 274th out of 278. He is 5 to 31 (.161) since April 29, has only played one pitch all season and has a low hard hit rate of 22.6 percent.

The phenomenon that is Jordan Walker: Young Walker turns 20 in three days, and he’s celebrating early by putting on a power show for Class A Springfield. In his last nine games, Walker hits .333 with a .722 slug, 1.118 OPS, five doubles, three homers, five walks and 10 RBI. I have no idea why he’s playing third base when he could get experience as a left fielder. For the season, Walker bats .312 with an OBP of .415 and a batting percentage of .500. And all this at the age of 19 in a league where the average age of position players is 24.3.

Mandatory Nolan Gorman Update: He had three hits for Triple A Memphis last night and is batting .400 and hitting .800 with three homers and a 29.6% strikeout rate in his last six games…In his last 12 games, Nolan is batting .319 with a .617 slug four homers and 1,002 OPS with a strikeout rate of 30.7%. The strikeout rate continues to drop and the performance remains impressive. Gorman has shot all 8.8 shots in 34 games in Memphis.

Minor matters: Paul DeJong went 0-4 for Memphis on Wednesday and is 2-21 (.095) since being demoted by the big club. DeJong is unsuccessful in four of his five games for Memphis… Outfielder Lars Nootbaar returned for Memphis last night after losing time through injury. He went 1 for 3 with a walk and a double against Gwinnett. Nootbar has been out since May 6… Future St. Louis starting shortstop Masyn Winn, 20, hits .333 with a .402 OBP, .559 slug and 13 steals in 29 games for High Class A Peoria.

And finally: Pujols is back in the lineup today, playing first base for the Cardinals against Mets RHP Chris Bassitt. Paul Goldschmidt starts down at DH and Brendan Donovan starts at shortstop. Bassitt has a 2.34 ERA in seven starts this season, including a 1.85 ERA in his last four starts. The Mets are 5-2 when Bassitt starts this season. Dakota Hudson, who starts for the Cardinals, has a 3.06 ERA in seven starts but comes in with an over-walk rate of 11.4%. The cards are 4-3 in Dak’s starts.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the game…

-Bernie

Bernie invites you to listen to his quirky and analytical sports talk show on 590-AM The Fan, KFNS. It airs Monday through Thursday from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Friday from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. You can listen to it via online streaming or download the Bernie Show podcast from 590thefan.com – the 590 app works great and is available in your favorite app store.

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Please email your Ask Bernie questions to BernScoops@gmail.com

All statistics used herein are from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, Stathead, Bill James Online, Fielding Bible, Baseball Savant, and Brooks Baseball Net unless otherwise noted.

Bernie Miklasz

Bernie Miklasz

For the past 35 years, Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened and connected with generations of sports fans in St. Louis.

While best known for his voice as a senior sports columnist at Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington DC

Bernie, his wife Kirsten, and their cats live in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.

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