Spring training games don’t count, but spring performances are what determine the final St. Louis Cardinals roster that will take the field on Opening Day in Cincinnati March 31. And some spring pitching performances have been awfully unpleasant.
Now it’s true that pitchers sometimes work on specific pitches and take risks they wouldn’t otherwise do when the games count — Adam Wainwright focused just on his curveball in Sunday’s game against the Mets, for example. But is it time to get concerned about the bullpen — or at least some components of it?
Looking at all 30 MLB teams this spring, the Cardinals team ERA through yesterday is 6.27 — tied for last in baseball with the Texas Rangers. Cardinals pitchers have given up 105 earned runs (108 runs total) in 150 2/3 spring innings.
Break that down to starters vs. relievers and the picture changes considerably. The ERA for Cards starters is 3.63, which is fourth-best in the National League and ninth-best in MLB. And for the relievers, it’s 7.66 — not surprisingly last, but more than a full run worse than the team directly ahead of them, the Rangers at 6.18, and two runs worse than the NL team ahead of them, the Padres at 5.42.
Since we need a little good news after that, let’s look at those who are excelling — beginning with closer Trevor Rosenthal. Nothing to worry about with him. After being slowed by a strained groin in late February that kept him from appearing in a game until March 8, he’s now pitched five total innings and allowed one earned run on a homer while striking out five and walking three for an ERA of 1.80. No saves, but no save opportunities yet either.
Having nearly identical stats — same number of games, innings, earned run on a homer, ERA and strikeouts — although with two saves in two opportunities is Kevin Siegrist. No worries there.
Randy Choate has pitched 5 2/3 innings over six games and allowed just two hits while striking out six and walking two. Hard to improve on an ERA of 0.00.