Lance Lynn has come out of the gate hot in only his 2nd year in the bigs with 6 quality starts in his first 9 attempts. Lynn has faltered a bit lately, with his last 3 starts being his weakest efforts, though two of them were quality starts none were more than 6 innings, and he gave up 3 or more runs in each of them. This could signal something of a return to earth for the 25 year old who has been almost too good to be true for the Cards so far. Lynn’s 34 & ⅔ innings from last year don’t make the greatest set of benchmarks, but he’s struck out 52 batters so far in 56 & ⅔ innings, which is good for over 8 per 9, which is only a little bit lower than his rate from last year, and he’s walked 19 batters so far, good for a about 3 per 9. Lynn is doing pretty well with his overall stat line, giving up very few homers, and getting just better than 50% ground balls with 17% of balls in play going for line drives. Unless his dominant start is as much a product of the league’s unfamiliarity with him, he’s clearly got the stuff, and the makeup to be a successful pitcher in the majors.
Jake Westbrook has looked... great in the early going, he has looked a bit more hittable through May, but has still been relatively reliable over his starts this month (last night’s 6 run dumpster fire excluded). He has managed to keep his walk rate quite reasonable having walked only 16 batters in 56 innings, while his strikeout rate is at a 10 year high at 6.1 per 9. He has above all else been able to avoid the long ball, having given up only 3 homers in his 9 starts. Having always been a groundball pitcher, and this year is no exception, he’s garnered over 60% ground balls and has limited line drives to only 13% of balls in play. This all bodes well for Westy, who despite a down year last year, and a track record of being less than exceptional, could certainly be looking to repeat something like his ‘08 performance. Westbrook is looking good in a lot of regards, and there’s very little reason for me to believe that he’s absolutely going to fall off. Of course as he’s not a strikeout pitcher he can get into trouble giving up a lot of contact, but conservatively it looks like Westbrook is going to turn in a solid if unspectacular year, probably a bit better than league average when all is said and done.
Adam Wainwright looked to be struggling to shake off the rust after a year on the shelf but has flashed a bit of brilliance periodically, including his complete game shutout of the Padres in his most recent start. His strikeout rate is good at 8.4 per 9 though his walk rate is up (marginally) at 2.9 per 9 and he’s giving up a little more than a homer per 9 which, is atypical of Waino to say the least. He’s getting ground balls more than ever before, but not by a huge margin, and his Line drive percentage (18% of all balls in play) is pretty much in line with his career line. Coming back from Tommy John surgery isn’t an easy road for most pitchers, so it’s to be expected that Waino has some rough starts while he re-adjusts to pitching in the majors. Overall he looks to be turning the corner with that shiny new elbow ligament, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a few hiccups here and there. Waino is better than his ERA indicates so far, but he’s not quite back up to All-star/Cy Young level yet.
Jaime Garcia is solid, if unspectacular, but has actually looked quite steady so far. He has amassed 6 quality starts in his 9 attempts, and has only given up more than 3 runs twice so far. Garcia has been an effective innings eater for St. Louis so far, and that’s not an unappealing quality for the back of your rotation. in 58 & ⅓ innings so far he has struck out 43 and walked 15, so while he’s not walking anybody, he isn’t striking them out either. He is the owner of a rather ugly 1.406 WHIP so far, and has managed to stay out of more trouble than most who are letting batters so readily take to the base paths by only giving up 1 homer so far. His BABIP is an absolutely disgusting .361, and while last year it was .324, a 40 point jump is quite a bit, especially given that he’s more effectively limiting line drives (only 16% of balls in play) than over the past 2 years. Garcia might be a victim of some less than stellar luck to this point, and could look to see his WHIP drop a bit as that BABIP corrects itself. Garcia may despite a diminished strikeout rate be able to provide better value to the Cards this season if he is able to keep his line drive and flyball rates at or near their current levels.