THE REDBIRD REVIEW

Nolan Gorman had a stressful (for him) and alarming (for us) performance in June. Swing and a miss. Swing and a miss. Swing and a miss. Poor dude. Get this man into July to start over, and hope the Cardinals won’t have to set up a reunion, with Gorman joining Jordan Walker down in Triple A for some Memphis blues.

As left-swinging power hitters go, Gorman was channeling Joey Gallo. Or maybe Adam Dunn without the homers. I’m not trying to be mean, but Gorman had the kind of month we used to see from overmatched pitchers in the pre-DH days. They’d grab a bat, take their swings at the plate, and go sit down.

Among major-league hitters that had at least 100 plate appearances in June, Gorman had the lowest batting average at .141 and the highest strikeout rate at 38.2 percent. Bunt, maybe? Just kidding. I’m a Gorman fan, but this was tough to watch.

Tuesday night in Pittsburgh, Gorman went deep, blasting a grand-slam home run that gave the Cardinals a 6-0 victory. The Redbirds hitched a ride on that guided missile for a 7-4 win. Gorman later added a single. It was encouraging to see the third-year slugger leave June behind and blast his way into July.

Yeah, it’s only one game. But it had to be good for Gorman’s confidence after his monstrous June swoon.

In a column I wrote for you earlier today, I mentioned that Gorman’s grand-slam homer went airborne on a 1-2 pitch. It was a welcome if unexpected wallop considering his helplessness on so many two-strike counts this season.

I wanted to learn more about this so I put on my lab coat (not really) to do some research. I took a look at how Gorman does depending on the count during an at-bat.

These numbers are for the entire season:

Gorman has done well when ahead on the count or with even counts. His profile on these counts includes a .518 slugging percentage and 13 homers in 164 at-bats. That’s a home run every 12.6 ABs. Gorman also had the good sense to draw walks when pitchers tried to find the strike zone, coming up with a .354 OBP when ahead or even in the count. He did strike out on 27.4 percent of his at-bats in these scenarios, but that’s fine considering his power-ball winnings when ahead or even in the count.

As you undoubtedly guessed, it’s much different story this season when Gorman gets behind in the count. When the pitchers get the jump on Gorman and put him on the defensive, he’s batting .112 with four homers, a .243 slugging percentage and 66 strikeouts in 107 at-bats. Mercy.

The most terrible predicament for Gorman is the dreaded 0-2 count. Big trouble. Whiff. Over the cliff. He’s 2 for 37 (.054) with one homer. And 27 of those 37 at-bats ended with a strikeout. Gorman’s .054 batting average on 0-2 pitches is the worst among Cardinal regulars this year.

(Sidebar: Gorman has faced 97 pitches on 0-2 counts this season. That’s a lot, yes. But the Cardinal who finds himself in the most 0-2 jams is Paul Goldschmidt, with 124. And Goldy is 6 for 43 (.140) with 21 strikeouts when down 0-2.)

Gorman is having a difficult time against four-seam fastballs this season. And those dastardly pitchers know this. They punch Gorman with a lot of four-seam fastballs when they have him leaning on the ropes. On two-strike counts this season he’s 5 for 56 (.089) with 37 strikeouts when challenged with a four-seamer.

Gorman on 1-2 pitches: 8 for 56 (.143) with two homers. And 70 percent of his at-bats that end on 1-2 pitch have come on strikeouts.

Gorman on all two-strike counts this season: 21 for 169 (.124 average) with a .243 slug, six homers, and 111 strikeouts. That means he gets knocked out 65.6 percent of the time when left vulnerable by a two-strike count.

I guess the conclusions are rather obvious here.

Get ahead in the count; Gorman has hit 76.4 percent of his home runs this season in ahead-or-even scenarios. Don’t slip and fall into so many 1-2 or 0-2 traps. Put up more resistance. Foul off more pitches. Connect and put more balls in play.

This season Gorman is 21 for 58 (.362) with six homers and a .707 slug percentage when he puts the ball in play on any two-strike count. But he doesn’t do it enough because of his 40 percent whiff-swing rate and 111 strikeouts when facing a two-strike pitch. And Gorman creates his own problems by chasing too many two-strike pitches out of the zone, striking out 65 times on non-strikes.

Improved plate discipline can go a long way in helping Gorman avoid being defeated by Gorman.

(All data used in this column were sourced from Statcast.)

Thanks for reading …

And have a safe and joyful 4th of July!

–Bernie

Bernie Miklasz

Bernie Miklasz

For the last 36 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.

While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.

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