To state the completely obvious, there’s a problem lately when Jake Westbrook pitches.
Yesterday’s buzzkill of a game squashed the high of Thursday’s extra-inning comeback walk-off win over the Pirates and Kolten Wong’s major league debut as Westbrook gave up seven runs and the Cards managed only two hits in the 7-0 loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
It was just another bad outing in a string of bad performances from Westbrook.
In three outings this month (only two starts, since he pitched in relief of Shelby Miller’s two-pitch outing on Aug. 7) he’s given up 20 earned runs (21 total) in 16 1/3 innings pitched on 25 hits with 12 walks. He’s faced the Reds, Dodgers and Cubs in those three outings, and they’re hitting .368/.463/.471 off him. In searching for some sort of silver lining, he’s only given one home run. At least he’s had 22 ground-outs, which obviously are what a sinker-ball pitcher needs to succeed. Of course, it’s the non-outs that cause all the trouble.
Because it’s not that those last two items are really any kind of bright spot.
And things aren’t much brighter looking at his overall stats either, as Jenifer Langosch writes:
Since coming off the disabled list in mid-June, Westbrook is 5-7 with an ERA of 5.86. He had a 1.62 ERA — lowest in the National League at the time — when he began his DL stint in mid-May. But elbow discomfort is not to be blamed for this recent stretch, as Westbrook confirmed after Friday’s outing that his arm feels fine.
Such a relief that his arm feels fine …
What about the psyche of Cardinals fans who have to watch him pitch?
And when we as fans can realize there are certainly other, and better, options available to start — especially for a team that’s, you know, competing to win the division — what’s it going to take for Mike Matheny to realize it as well? There are 41 games left, including this afternoon’s. Time, yes, but how wise to keep trotting a struggling pitcher out there every fifth game — particularly when Michael Wacha, for example, is in the bullpen?
Although maybe, hopefully (please please please), Matheny does in fact realize this. Here’s more from Jenifer Langosch:
The question the Cardinals have to mull over now is whether keeping Westbrook in the rotation continues to give them the best chance to win. Matheny would not confirm that Westbrook would not make his next start as scheduled, saying, “we’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”
Considering Westbrook said he felt fine yesterday, I’m sure he’ll say he feels fine today … so hopefully that’s just manager-speak for “yes, a change really is going to come.”
We can hope so, at least.
This afternoon, in contrast to Westbrook, it’s the guy who’s been the stopper during his three outings this month — Joe Kelly. He was roughed up a bit by the Cubs last Sunday, allowing four earned runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings, yet the Cards prevailed in the game and won (just like they have in all three of his August starts). Taking the mound for the Cubs is Travis Wood, who did not face the Cards last weekend but has three times this season and St. Louis has prevailed twice.
Game time is 3:05 p.m. Central Time on FOX.
Christine Coleman is the lead writer for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates.