The Cardinals and Mets enter the mid-week series atop their respective divisions. The Cardinals come in especially hot, sweeping the Reds over the weekend and having won eight of their last 10. They have allowed the third least runs in the National League, and their pitchers feature prominently in the following stats preview. To lead off, though, we start with a key cog of their lineup from the last decade and a half.
Yadi’s Hot Start: Yadier Molina has had a blistering start to the season, with six home runs and a .321 TAv, despite a .259 BABIP and a current walk rate that would be a career low (3.9%). While the low BABIP might make it seem like Molina is not just getting lucky, he has been fortunate in the quality of pitching he has faced. The .807 OPS for his opposing pitchers is the second highest among batters with at least 35 plate appearances, suggesting he may be due for some regression. This may be especially true in the power department, as Molina’s current 26% HR/FB rate would be double his career high and his FB% is right in line with career norms.
Weaver’s Repertoire: Luke Weaver is scheduled to start the opener for the Cardinals, and he enters having a strong start to the year. His velocity is up on all his pitches (93.5 to 94 mph on his fastball from 2017 to 2018), and he has followed the league wide trend on curveball usage, trading fastballs for hooks (6% increase in CB usage thus far). The curve is getting over an inch more downward movement too, which offers further support for increased usage. The traditional results have been mediocre (4.22 ERA), but his FIP is 2.84. His last start was not pretty (six earned runs in four innings), but look for Weaver and his curve to bounce back Tuesday night, as the peripherals are solid.
Holland’s Hiccups: Greg Holland’s start to his Cardinals career has been less than ideal. He has walked eight batters through just four and a third innings, and has a FIP over ten. His fastball velocity is averaging career lows (93.2 mph), following a downward trend over the last few seasons. While that velocity is still certainly capable of getting major league hitters out, the walk numbers are concerning. His last two outings have been scoreless with only one walk, though, so watch to see if his bounce back continues against the Mets, who are sixth in the league in walks as a team (87).
The Good: St. Louis hitters are second in combined VORP (58.4). The Mets are fifth (50.5).
The Bad: Dominic Leone has allowed home runs on one-third of his fly balls so far.
The Ugly: Paul DeJong is striking out at a 40% rate in his first 78 plate appearances.
Asdrubal Cabrera’s TAv is a torrid .365, with nearly half of his hits going for extra bases. His strikeouts are down, but so are his walks. His BABIP is also .375, so he may cool off from his otherworldly first few weeks.
Photo credit: Jeff Curry – USA Today Sports