Let’s talk about Quality Starts.
In Monday’s 4-0 loss at San Francisco, St. Louis starter Jordan Montgomery delivered the Cardinals’ fourth quality start of the season, and he owns three of them. It didn’t matter. The Cards hitters couldn’t scratch out a single run against Giants right-hander Alex Cobb. He dominated them with ridiculous ease.
And that got me thinking about something.
What about the other side of the Quality Start equation?
What about the starting pitchers that have faced the Cardinals this season?
How many quality starts have they turned in?
Answer: 11 opposing-team starters have recorded a quality start against the Redbirds in just 23 games. The 11 starters collectively pitched 70 innings against St. Louis and gave up 12 runs for a 1.54 ERA. That’s … bad. And it underlines the inconsistency of the St. Louis offense. The Cardinals lost 7 of the 11 quality-start games pitched against them.
And they’re a minus 7 in the quality-start differential.
Opponents have 11, the Cardinals have four.
In quality starts the Cardinals are losing at both ends of the spectrum early this season.
On the pitching side: only three teams have produced fewer quality starts than St. Louis this season.
On the hitting side: only three teams — Oakland, Colorado and Minnesota — have been victimized more often by an opponent’s quality start.
And we wonder why the Cards are wallowing at 9-14? Sure, St. Louis hitters have faced some good starting pitchers this season, but too often they’ve failed to put up much resistance. Frankly, it’s embarrassing.
Here’s another statistic that may frustrate you:
Last season last St. Louis opponents had 22 quality starts in 162 games for a QS percentage of 13.5%
This season St. Louis opponents have a quality-start percentage of 47.8%.
Seriously? Here we are only 23 games into the 2023 season … and opponent pitchers already are halfway to last season’s quality-start total against STL?
Monday night in San Francisco, Alex Cobb pitched a six-hit, complete-game shutout. He kept his pitches down and conjured a 70.4 percent ground-ball rate which led to 17 ground-ball outs. The Cardinals took 19 called strikes and had one walk. With men on base the Cardinals were 1 for 9 with a walk. They were hitless in six at-bats with runners in scoring position.
The Cardinals were befuddled by Cobb, who averaged a mere 12.1 pitchers per inning. Ridiculous. Cardinal hitters followed up on a seven-run Sunday at Seattle by taking their least competitive at-bats of the season in the series opener at San Francisco.
This isn’t new. After cudgeling Arizona pitching four 14 runs last Wednesday, the Cardinals have scored 13 total runs over the four-game aftermath.
The Cardinals have been held to three runs or fewer in 10 of their 23 games. And when it happens, they’re 1-9. They’ve managed to score two runs or fewer seven times, and they’re 0-7 in those games.
With all of the justifiable criticism of the team’s starting pitching, the St. Louis hitters are getting off easy.
Insert your own Jeff Albert snark here.
I’ll be back with another Redbird Review this afternoon.
Thanks for reading …
Bernie invites you to listen to his sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS-AM. It airs Monday through Thursday from 3-6 p.m. and Friday from 4-6 p.m. You can listen by streaming online or by downloading the show podcast at 590thefan.com or the 590 app.
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All stats used in my baseball columns are sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, Baseball Savant, Bill James Online and Baseball Prospectus.
For the last 35 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. 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.