This letter is somewhat bittersweet. The last two seasons, you have quietly been the most consistent starter in an occasionally stellar, but often tumultuous Cardinals rotation. You’ve kept the Redbirds in games they had to win. You’ve eaten up innings when the bullpen needed rest. You earned team-leading stats, and an Opening Day start.
And, you did it all without fanfare and without much praise.
Now, though, you’re set to move on. The Cardinals, having pitching coming out their ears, so to speak, have given you the chance to earn the money you’re worth, though likely not in St. Louis.
I, for one, am sad to see you go.
I mean, who else could pull off such a successful Tony La Russa impression?
And this year, the baby blue was nice, but the cane and top hat pulled it all together.
You have a sense of humor that isn’t often on display. But, through the dog days of summer, that is a valuable asset, and an element of the 2012 pitching staff I’ll miss next season.
There’s also the fact that, in 33 regular-season games this year, you pitched less than six full innings no more than six times — four of which came in the same rough month. You pitched more innings than any other Cardinal pitcher, and posted a rotation-leading 2.86 ERA — the only starter with a season ERA below three. The consistency is what stands out, partially because that’s the thing that was missing for much of the 2012 season in other places in the lineup.
It started early — and against the Reds, no less! Seven innings of work, four hits, no runs, six strikeouts.
Baseball’s pretty easy when everything works like it should!
There were days in May that were a struggle. But that wasn’t just you. The entire team saw a downswing … to say the least.
Despite the injury merry-go-round crippling much of the lineup, June was a good month for you. This game against the Indians was just one example. This reminds me, though. I had a bone to pick with your rookie manager after this one! Seven and two thirds innings, a three hit shutout, two outs and a runner on first? Personally, I’d have liked to see you have another go at the Indians! You had all your pitches working for you, and seemed to be in complete control.Why not give you the chance to close it out, or at least finish the inning?
But I digress.
In the month of August, you posted a 1.42 ERA. That’s a fantastic mark. And even though two of those five starts were no-decisions, you were still 3-0 on the month.
Speaking of no-decisions, if your teammates had been able to help you out a tad more, you could easily have led the team in wins for the second straight year, and likely had a strong case for the Cy Young Award. I mean, 14 no-decisions on the year? That’s just crazy talk.
Sometimes, you had to help your own cause, like every good pitcher does. On a team known for failing at bunting, you were able to advance the runners with some success. But, who needs to bunt when you can knock a bouncing RBI double off the third base line to give yourself a 2-0 lead over the Astros?
Of course, there’s that Wild Card game. (“Wild” is incredibly accurate, no?) Amidst bizarre circumstances, you never let the game get out of control — an M.O. worth talking about!
As for the rest of the playoffs, things didn’t quite go according to plan in late October. Not even for you. But, the end of this year doesn’t define this team. Neither does it define your value to a team.
I know baseball is a business. We hear that so much these days. And yet, I hate the part of the business meeting when everyone realizes someone is going to get left out … or, in this case, simply move on.
See, players become important to fans. And you became important to us.
Best of luck, Kyle, from us here at AMF and more of us throughout Cardinal Nation. Wherever this Free Agency season lands you, may you continue to succeed with quiet confidence, making everyone around you better for it.
Tara is a St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball and a contributor to Around the Horn. Follow her on Twitter @tarawellman.