Throughout the off-season the St. Louis Cardinals created one of the biggest storylines with the re-signing of free agent left fielder Matt Holliday. This signing received, and deservingly so, much attention because of the effect that Holliday’s bat should have on the way pitchers throw to Albert Pujols. However through all of the noise that this offense has created, the red bird pitching is flying under the radar.
To the casual fan it may look as though the Cardinals pitching is nothing special. They lost starter Joel Pineiro to the Angels after a 15 win, 200-inning, and a sub 3.5 ERA campaign in 2009. To replace him, they added Brad Penny who had a shaky 2009. Furthermore, to replace future hall-of-fame pitcher John Smoltz the opted to go with rookie Jamie Garcia who prior to 2010 has pitched a total of 16 major league innings. Beyond this the Cardinals bullpen is reliable but lacks any superstar talent.
Will 2010 be a rebuilding year for Cardinals pitching? Is this a year where the offence needs to carry the team were it needs to go? Think again! Without question this staff is one of the best two in the National league. The talent that they lost this year is irrelevant in the scope of what this staff is capable of. It is possible, but too early to tell that the pitching might be even better than last season. Ace Chris Carpenter is coming off of his best season in years and Adam Wainwright is the best number two in all of baseball. There is every reason to believe that Brad Penny’s best days are still in front of him, despite being 32. Kyle Lohse and Jamie Garcia certainly are not front rotation guys, but are dependable most of the time.
The bullpen as mentioned is not great. Lucky for them, they don’t need to be! Ryan Franklin is a 40+ save closer on this team. Kyle McClellan and Jason Motte are enough to get the ball to Franklin in the ninth… when the starters don’t do it.
Also, let us not forget that Dave Duncan is still their Pitching Coach. Duncan is regarded by many at the best in the business. His resume speaks for itself.
The Cardinals are off to a 10-5 start at the time of writing. Look for them to continue dominating the competition on both sides of the baseball. Led by their big power bats and backed-up by great pitching, the 2009 Cardinals may just be the early season favorites to win the National League pennant- sorry Philly Phanatics. This pitching staff will earn the attention that they deserve.