Can Rookie Wacha save the “dead” Cardinals?

The Cardinals lost much more than a game last night; they may have lost the 2013 World Series.

MLB: Kansas City Royals at St. Louis CardinalsSure, these guys are professionals and teams bounce back, but how much is too much to lose in a single game?

Carlos Beltran made a valiant effort to steal a Grand Slam, but it will likely mean that he is done already in the World Series he waited for so long.

“This team has been on a mission to get me to this point, and I really appreciate that. They really want me to win a World Series, to have an opportunity to play in a World Series. It really means a lot. It means they care.”

Anyone who has ever had a rib injury, whether the ribs are broken, fractured, or bruised, knows how debilitating it can be.

Try to swing a bat, throw a baseball, run more than 50 feet, or just get a good night’s sleep with an aching rib cage.  Just breathing is painful and don’t even think about coughing, or laughing.

The team lost its veteran leader, .296, 24/84, switch-hitter, bats in a 1-4 slot.

The Cardinals will try, bravely, to make this a “Win it for Beltran” motivator to win the Series;

how deep can they dig to find the footing to more forward?

There’s a range of words to use to describe what happened to the Cardinals last night:

  • They choked.
  • They were rattled.
  • They were unnerved
  • They shit the bed.
  • They tore their ass in church.
  • They jumped the shark.

But, perhaps they simply embarrassed and humiliated themselves before a vast audience and—worse—their peers.

Although Tazawa and Uehara’s sense of honor would not allow them to speak it publicly, they are likely thinking that the Cardinals “lost face.”   

“’Lose face’ began life in English as a translation of the Chinese phrase ‘tiu lien’. That phrase may also be expressed in English as ‘to suffer public disgrace’, that is, to be unable to show one’s face in public.” [http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/lose-face.html]

Yes, we can consider the Fenway-Friendly Factor and visiting teams are befuddled by the structural oddities of the venerable ballpark.  The “Pinball Palace” can flummox fielders and send them into awkward contortions, like trying to stop a line drive from caroming back past them and toward the left side of the infield, where their SS may scramble to corral the peripatetic ball.

But, it was not the physical wall, it was the emotional wall of energy that got the Cardinals “All Shook Up.”  The Green Monster did not affect SS Kozma;

it was a Monster of the Mind.

“Kozma has good range and a solid arm. He can make plays from the hole well. Kozma has good first-step quickness and an ability to make the difficult plays, as well as the routine ones. He made only nine errors this season. “ raves MLB.com’s Bernie Pleskoff .

“He’s not a whiz, laterally or with the glove…” says Fangraphs, who gave him a WAR of 0.6; compare to Drew’s 1.7.  [http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/2013-positional-power-rankings-shortstop/]

Bleacher Report ranked him #5 in the Top Ten MLB SSs: “Kozma’s UZR of 6.3 is the third-best among qualifying shortstops in the majors, while his dWAR of 0.8 (three-way tie for ninth) and DRS of four (four-way tie for seventh) are just above-average.” [http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1694005-ranking-mlbs-10-best-defensive-shortstops/page/8]

The BR places him behind 4, J.J. Hardy, 3. Troy Tulowitzki, 2. Pedro Florimon and 1. Andrelton Simmons.

Kozma made 9 errors all season and 2 in Game One; that’s about as many as he committed, on average, in 18 regular season games.

The kid has a Silver glove, but he will not be confused with the pure gold of Ozzie Smith.

Why do the Cards “carry” a weak hitter [.217], who drags his WAR down to 0.6?  Some say that the organization is stubborn about admitting that they made a mistake when they used their highest draft pick since 2000 to select Kozma in in the first round (18th overall) of the June, 2007 First-Year Player Draft.

Yes, the Cardinals reliable ace, Adam Wainwright, did not bring his “A-game” to the mound last night and his Cy Young Award level 2013 season would suggest that he will come back strong in his next start, but he too seemed “rattled”—how often does he call for a pop-up and then back off?

St. Louis Manager, Mike Matheny, sent his Ace out to face Boston’s #1 slot starter and, like the guy with his best poker hand all night,  who keeps raising the pot, he was frustrated to lose the hand.  When you “take your best shot” and lose, it has to make you lose your confidence and worry.

The term “must win” is abused widely and I have stubbornly eschewed using it, but, if the Cardinals lose Game Two—even without embarrassing or humiliating themselves—can even what Mark “The Lire” McGwire called “The best fans in baseball,” and all the red dye and food coloring and banal Budweiser beer in Missouri prop up the Cardinals enough to come back and win this World Series?

“The Cardinals will never stop insisting that they’re the shining example of all that remains good and pure in America’s Pastime…” [http://keepingscore.blogs.time.com/2013/10/23/a-haters-guide-to-the-2013-world-series/]

In a previous pre-Series article we suggested that Michael Wacha was a key to this Series:

With the red-hot Michael Wacha as the 5th man, the Cards are at a definite advantage in depth.”

“Cards’ manager Mike Matheny may continue to substitute red-and-white hot Micheal Wacha for Shelby Miller in the 1-4 rotation and

this would be a major factor in the Sox chances of winning the World Series.”

We rated Wacha second only to Cardinal Ace Wainwright:

By our scoring system Wacha, currently rates as the #2 starter with his 1,240 points and the “winner” shifts when he or Miller are the #4 starter.”

We compared Wacha to Peavy:

Control   K-rating     Efficiency   vsPower

 WACHA

82

                 71

               90

                56

 

PEAVY

64

                85

               76

               57

WACHA [299] vs. PEAVY [282]

Although MLB.com ranked Wacha #5 in the rotation depth chart, Manager Matheny must consider him his #2 behind Wainwright, since, despite the fact that all the Card starters are rested and ready, he will send Wacha to the bump to save the team today.

Probables:

STL: Wacha (4-1, 2.78)

BOS: Lackey (10-13, 3.52)

The Baseball Cube scoring method that we used in our article would predict this outcome:

 

Control   K-rating     Efficiency   vsPower

LACKEY

65

               58

                59

               57

Control   K-rating     Efficiency   vsPower

 WACHA

82

                 71

               90

                56

 

TOTALS:

Wacha 299 vs. Lackey 229

Our combined stats do not alter the balance:

M. Wacha                [1,240] + 299 =         1,539

J. Lackey                 [1,250] + 239 =          1,489

Well, we told you to “Watch Wacha!”

http://bosoxinjection.com/2013/10/22/ws-starters-rated/

 

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Topics: 2013 World Series, Boston Red Sox, Michael Wacha, St. Louis Cardinals

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