Cards vs. Mets: A defining series

The New York Mets head into St. Louis Tuesday night for a three game series against the Cardinals.  Two teams sitting at the top of their respective divisions will meet for the second time in 2018. This matchup will determine where the Cardinals currently stand when it comes to the hierarchy of National League contenders.

Winners of 8 of their last 10 games, the Cardinals climbed up the MLB power rankings. Power has been the key to the movement, they have 30 home runs, tied for most in the National League and second most in the majors. Yadier Molina and Paul Dejong’s power surges along with Jose Martinez’s emergence as the 3-hole hitter that the birds on the bat have been looking for since the departure of Albert Pujols.

While the Cardinals sit at the top of the Central Division, most of their wins have come against the dumpster fire that is the Cincinnati Reds.  They head into the matchup with the New York Mets looking to win their first series against a team with a winning record. The Mets will enter this series with a chance to make another statement against a proverbial contender. New York entered the 2018 season with mid-level expectations sitting in a division with everyone’s favorite regular season team, the Washington Nationals.  The Met’s have come out firing the first month of the season starting the season 14- 6, also winning their opening weekend series against St. Louis.  New York’s addition of Adrian Gonzalez and Todd Frazier has brought consistency to the lineup as well as veteran presences.  Outfield Brandon Nimmo’s sudden emergence has also brought an unexpected spark to the lineup. The pitching staff has stayed healthy early on, the signing of veteran lefty Jason Vargas has also given them depth to handle the breakdown of the Dark Knight Matt Harvey.

The Cardinals may have caught a small break with Met’s pushing back Zack Wheeler to start this series after a rainout cause him to miss his start against Atlanta. The righty will seek his first career win against the Cardinals, as he’s 0-2 with a 4.76 ERA in two starts. The rainout means the Cardinals will not see one of the two phenom’s the Met’s rotation sports as Jacob Degrom has been moved out of this series.  After Wheeler, the Mets will send out  lefty Steven Matz, who took the loss in his first start of the season against Cardinals giving up three runs over four innings on April 1st in New York.  They will conclude the series against Noah Syndergaard who has 39 K’s in 27 1/3 innings, but his inefficiency has left him “disappointed and frustrated with how I’ve been throwing.” He is 1-2 with a 3.79 ERA in his career vs. St. Louis.

Rotational stability is up in the air at the moment for the Cardinals as Adam Wainwright was sent to the 10-day DL for the second time in 2018.  Luke Weaver will take the mound in game one of the series. Weaver suffered his 1st loss last time out, when he allowed 6 runs in 4 innings to the Cubs. He earned his 1st win of the season against the Mets earlier this month. After Weaver, the Cardinals have left it uncertain for the final two games of the series. Micheal Wacha and Carlos Martinez would make sense, as they both would be on normal rest. Matheny though, has already shown that he is willing to tweak the rotation. With an inner division series in Pittsburgh coming up after the weekend, he could look to give Martinez an extra day off to pitch the opener in Pittsburgh.

The Cardinals will head into this series with a chance to make an early season statement to the rest of the league.  They will have a chance to show the league that they are a legit contender.  It will be important that they contain the middle of the order especially Asdrubal Cabrera, the switching hitter has been a lightning rod for the Mets lineup all season.  The Met’s have had a problem giving up home runs early in the season giving up 1.15 homers per game in 2018 which has them ranked 23rd in the league. The Met’s seem to have a problem with home runs, which is perfect for a Cardinal team that ranks 2nd in the league in home runs per game.

The Cardinals are set up to win this series. They should win this series. Playoff teams win these series at home, let’s see what they are made of.

Don’t Blame Bryan Price

The Cincinnati Reds fired Manager Bryan Price in the midst of an MLB worst 3-15 start to the 2018 season. The final straw for Reds management may have been the back to back shutouts at the hands of division rival Milwaukee at home. The Reds are going to throw numbers out that “justify” the firing of Price at the end of the day they are using him to scapegoat what was always going to be a bad season.

Price leaves the Reds with a career record of 279-387, a winning percentage of just under 42%.  During his tenure as manager Price watched as the Reds began a rebuild of epic proportion.   Realizing that they had begun a fall of contention in 2014 the Reds began trading off long time pieces of the organization.  Names like Todd Frazier, Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips, Mike Leake, Mat Latos, Aroldis Chapman and Johnny Cueto were moved to try and rebuild an unimpressive farm system. As the big names left the fan base began to join them. The 2017 team ranked 26th in attendance, they currently ranked 20th in the league in 2018.  This number will continue to decrease as the losing continues.

The Red’s front office has found a way to appease an angry fanbase by moving on from a manager that was never set up to win.  By moving him they can deflect the blame of horrible moves made. For example, of the 4 players picked up in the Aroldis Chapman trade, 3 are no longer in the organization, while the 4th, pitcher Rookie Davis, has a torn Labrum.  The Todd Frazier trade netted them current starting shortstop Jose Peraza whom has shown no ability to hit at the major league level.  The only remanence of the Johnny Cueto trade, Pitcher Brandon Finnegan, has spent more time on the DL then the lineup card.  The Red’s chose to clean house in an attempt to follow the trends of the Chicago Cubs and the Houston Astros. They have seen the success of these franchises by choosing to “tank”.  The problem with the tanking method is that eventually it becomes a problem with your fans. The Reds have begun to realize that when you are a historic franchise you do not always have the time to wait out a rebuild.

On record alone the firing of Bryan Price was justified, but it has become a trend for teams to move on from a manager just to make a move.  Price has been a strong leader for a team of young players.  He will move on and find a job most likely as a pitching coach for a major league team, but the sting of a potential turn around over the next three years for the franchise will sting.  The Reds have built their farm system up to 9th in the MLB.  Potential franchise players, infielder Nick Senzel and pitching phenom Hunter Greene are working their way to the show soon to join Joey Votto and hopefully a healthy Eugenio Suarez.

When you look at who is to blame for the start of the season for the Reds, don’t let the front office fool you into thinking it was Bryan Prices fault.  Management was never planning for him to win.  He was never going to be succesful in Cincinnati.

Grizzlies Pitching Depth for 2018

The Gateway Grizzlies added two pitchers to their spring training roster to add more depth to veteran Manager Phil Warren’s pitching staff.  LHP Keelan Smithers and RHP Kevin Simmons will join the team as they head into spring training.

Keelan Smithers, 23, an imposing figure at 6′ 5″ 230lbs. Smithers spent his college years in the Ivy League as a member of the Princeton Tigers.  The big lefty made 34 appearances, 29 starts, garnering 7 wins with a 5.84 ERA over his four year tenure.

Kevin Simmons, 24, played his college ball at Wallace Community College (Dothan, Alabama).  2014 16th round draft pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks spent two years in their system going 3-5 with a 3.95 ERA. Simmons brings Frontier League experience pitching for the Joliet Slammers during the 2016 season.  In 34 appearances out of the bullpen Simmons went 1-2 with a 4.91 ERA.

Smithers and Simmons will join a pitching staff looking to improve on a 5.11 team ERA during the 2017 season .

The Grizzlies will begin their spring training schedule Tuesday April 1st against the Southern Illinois Miners in Marion.

For the Grizzlies full schedule go to Gatewaygrizzlies.com.

Role Definition: Luke Gregerson

Luke Gregerson was activated by the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday.  He will now take his role in the redbird bullpen.  But what is that role?

John Mozeliak signed the 9 year veteran to a 2-year, $11-million contract in the offseason in hopes to add a reliable arm to a bullpen that had some uncertainty.  Mozeliak then shocked Cardinal nation by saying that he saw the Cardinals going into the 2018 season with Gregerson as the teams closer. While Gregerson has been an effective reliever during his tenure he had not seen much time as a full time closer, his most time spent as a closer was in 2015 with the Astros where he recorded 31 of his 66 career saves. His signing was not the impact the fanbase was looking for in the offseason. As the season drew near Gregerson’s closer role still set, an unfortunate hamstring strain caused management to call an audible in their bullpen play.  Feeling as if the injury caused a need in the back end, the Cardinals brought in 2017 NL saves leader Greg Holland as well as gave opportunities to other relievers.

With the signing of Holland, the emergence of rookie Jordan Hicks and and the steadiness of early season “Closer” Bud Norris, Gregerson’s role doesn’t seem clear. Gregerson is going to have to take on a role that most wouldn’t be accustomed to in traditional baseball circles. He must be the guy Mike Matheny goes to against tough lefties in middle inning situations.  Injuries to 2017 free agent signee Brett Cecil and young lefty Ryan Sheriff have left the Cardinals with a uncertain options in their bullpen.  Tyler Lyons currently is the only left handed pitcher in the Cardinals bullpen and frankly he has not be effective in that role. Lefties are currently hitting over .300 against Lyons.  While the Cardinals wait for another left handed pitcher to step up they have to find a way to handle current left handed bats.  Gregerson has the ability to get those outs as well as not put Lyons in a situation to lose confidence or have him be the left handed version of Matt Bowman.

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Cardinals fans will want to see a power arm like Jordan Hicks take on powerful left handed hitters, but it will be important for Matheny to fight the urge to use the young fireballer in those situations.  While Hicks has the stuff to handle any hitter he currently is still learning his new role in the pen. Keep his confidence high while he develops into what could be a cornerstone piece in the Cardinals pitching staff for years to come.

During Gregerson’s most successful season as a closer in 2015  he held left handed hitters to a .233 BA, while slugging .325 and only allowing 1 home run.  Gregerson during that time was exposed to batters much more. Gregerson’s effectiveness against lefties will be depended on his slider movement. He has the ability to fool left handed batters with the movement he brings from an awkward angle. His 3 different sliders feature movement from all different angles.  Each one can be effective against left handed hitters.

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The Cardinals will be faced with another situation where they have to ease a player into a role. While he can be a featured player at the end of games, Gregerson right now has to fill a need for his ball club.  The clubs biggest hole is a left handed reliever, while technically he doesn’t fill that role, he does have the numbers against some of the premier left handed hitters that the Cardinals will be facing during the season.

Anthony Rizzo 0 for 4

Joey Votto 0 for 5

Corey Dickerson  1 for 4, no homeruns

Carlos Gonzalez 2 for 11

Brandon Belt 0 for 9

Charlie Blackmon 1 for 5

Jay Bruce 0 for 4

It will be hard for Mike Matheny to get away from the classic lefty vs. lefty matchup but with the lack of choices that he has it is time to try put a veteran in this role.  Gregerson showed that he still has the ability in high leverage situations during the World Baseball Classic closing for a team of All- Stars.  The 2017 MLB season may not have reflected that ability, but now he moves to a much more pitcher friendly National League park.  While Cardinals fans wait for their other left handed relievers to recover this role could be the most beneficial role that Luke Gregerson can play. Mozilak and Matheny may have seen him as a stable force at the end of games but baseball is about day by day adjustments. This is the right move for the team and for the success of the pitcher.

 

 

 

NBA Playoff Picks- Western Conference

The NBA season stinks.  We all know it, but the playoffs is a different level of intensity.  We actually see the best players in the world play at their highest level.  With the playoffs starting Saturday night let’s make our picks.

Western Conference

(1)Houston Rockets vs. (8)Minnesota Timberwolves

The Wolves find themselves in the playoffs for the first time since the 2004 season. The Rockets come in as heavy favorites coming off of a historic season.  Mike D’Antoni’s up tempo style has been massively effective with the addition of Chris Paul.  Veterans like PJ Tucker and Eric Gordon have provided grittiness to a style that historically has been looked at as a more of a finesse approach.

The Wolves have to have  Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns carry the load on both ends of the court.  The defense as a whole must step up big time to have any chance to pull off an upset in this series. The Timberwolves have allowed 108.4 points per 100 possessions, 23rd in the league and smack in the neighborhood of such defensive juggernauts as the Grizzlies and Knicks.  Jimmy Butler is good enough to contain James Harden during this series but Jeff Teague matching up with Chris Paul is a nightmare to Minnesota fans. The Wolves would be wise to have Wiggins matchup with Paul and use his length to try and disrupt Paul.  But honestly I am reaching to think that the Wolves will make a series of this. Rockets have the players to matchup Towns and Butler.

Rockets in 5

(2)Golden State Warriors vs. (7)San Antonio Spurs

This series two years ago would be a headliner of the first round, but with the injuries to marquee names Steph Curry and Kawhi Leonard this series feels more like a warmup for the Warriors.  The Spurs will need an MVP like effort to carry the Spurs to a victory in this series.  This is the least intimidating Spurs team in the last two decades.  Tony Parker and Manu are not half they players they used to be so the Spurs are relying so much on their young unproven players.

The Warriors are no longer the overall favorites in the west, I think Durant, Thompson, Green and company come out with a chip on their shoulder. Durant will face different combinations of Danny Green, Kyle Anderson and Rudy Gay, and he should find ways to exploit anyone San Antonio has to offer.  The Spurs will put up a fight after they go down 2-0 but they just don’t have the firepower to match the Warriors even without Steph.

Warriors in 4

(3) Portland Trailblazers vs. (6) New Orleans Pelicans

By far the most fun series to watch.  Damion Lillard and Anthony Davis are about to claim their spot in the NBA elite, the winner of this series will take the first step in that direction.

The Pelicans addition of Nikola Mirotic has given them a stretch four that has opened up the middle for Anthony Davis to work. If Jrue Holiday and Rajon Rondo can at least limit Lillard and McCollum, they can make this an extremely difficult match-up for Portland. The Pelicans will need leadership from Rondo in this series as he is the only one with real playoff experience. Rondo has flashed signs of early Celtics Rondo this season, if that guy shows up the Pelicans can pull of the upset.

The Blazers are going into this series as one of the surprises of the West.  While they were a projected playoff team no one could have seen them as high as the 3 seed coming into 2018.  Portland’s improvement has come mainly on the defensive end, jumping from 15th in team defense in 2016-2017 all the way to 7th in 2017-2018. The key for Portland will be to contain Anthony Davis.  Stopping Anthony Davis is really not an option for Portland but if Josef Nurkic can make Davis work on both ends it can make a huge impact on the game.

Pelicans lack depth behind the starting 5 and I can’t see anyone on this team that will be able to hold down the terrific Blazer’s guard play.  This series will be tight but I think the home team will take it.

Blazers in 6

(4)Oklahoma City Thunder vs. (5) Utah Jazz

The Jazz had a chance to win the number 3 seed on the final day of the season, but were unable to beat a determined Trailblazers team. The Jazz now have to face the biggest wildcard team of the playoffs the star driven Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Jazz enter this series with one thing in mind.  Stop Russell Westbrook! Mid-season addition Jae Crowder will play a huge role in that but not by being one one with Westbrook.  If the Jazz utilize Crowder on Paul George and limit his impact, that will leave Westbrook to carry the load.  We all know that may be how he wants it but has historically not lead to victories. Rudy Gobert will also be tasked with keeping the former MVP out of the paint or at least punishing him when he drives.  If Gobert can be defensively strong while still supplying a secondary option to rookie sensation Donovan Mitchell the Jazz will be in good shape.

The Oklahoma City Thunder will have to have its two stars play at a high level to win this game.  If George and Westbrook can play their games this series could be over in four, but the defense of the Jazz could smother them and force third option Carmelo Anthony into the mix.  Anthony will have an immense amount of pressure on him entering this series.  His legacy is on the line in this series, he will have to be more then he has been this season.

This series is a case of great individual stars meeting a much more team concept. I tend to take team over player unless Lebron James is the player.

Jazz in 7

 

 

 

 

This Bud’s a Closer

Greg Holland made his debut for the Cardinals walking 4 over 1/3 of an inning eventually earning the loss.  The Cardinals signed Holland for the pressure situations during the season but to expect him to come in and make an impact right away is unfair to him and unfair to the fanbase.  The Cardinals have an answer for the closing role but Mike Matheny for some reason wants to fight it and force Greg Holland into the role.  That answer is former Cardinal killer Bud Norris.

Bud Norris converted to the bullpen full time last year while with the Los Angeles Angels. Norris began the season as the Angels closer and found some immediate success. Norris’s 2017 strikeouts per nine spiked dramatically, going from just under eight to well above ten strikeouts per nine innings, mostly due to his developing cutter. Before suffering the knee problems Norris was very comparable to Holland in nearly every statistic according to fangraphs.

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While Norris was finding his niche in the bullpen Greg Holland was also finding success as closer for the Colorado Rockies.  But similarly to Norris an injury caused second half trouble for Holland. While Holland finished the 2017 season tied with Kenley Janson for  the most saves in the National League there was still some issues with arm fatigue. Holland throughout the year was showing signs of velocity loss in his fast ball which scared off many potential suitors during the offseason.  Cardinals management signed Holland to a 1 year $14million contract because they felt they saw a need that would put them over the top in the NL Central, but they cannot force Holland into the role with a couple of Palm Beach appearances.  Holland needs time to get comfortable both on the mound and with his new team.  That does not mean that Cardinals have to lose.  Use Holland in situations that are stressful but do not set him up to fail until he is at full strength.

Bud Norris has been great over the first two weeks of the season getting a hold and a save in two of the four Cardinal wins.  He has shown the ability to handle high leverage situations early and has a veteran presence on the mound.  I understand that Greg Holland is the closer the fanbase wants and he will eventually be the guy they want, but he needs time to work on his mechanics.  He is not a fireball closer like Aroldis Chapman or Wade Davis.  Holland’s game is about movement and location similar to an aging Mariano Rivera.

The signing of Holland made sense on multiple levels for the Redbirds but again this has turned into a case of Mike Matheny making a bad decision with the bullpen.  Relievers live a life of ups and downs, confidence is a huge part of the game.  Putting Holland in a tough situation to start the year is the exact situation that needs to be avoided.  Ease him into the role early in the season.  I am not saying he should get special treatment but his ego had to take a pretty big shot taking this long to sign with a team.  Matheny and new pitching coach Mike Maddux have a tough task ahead of them trying to fit new bullpen pieces into the puzzle.  They have to let the new arms develop there role.

Bud Norris isn’t a flashy name he probably isn’t even the guy for the job in the long run, but right now with a bullpen of uncertainty he is the only one that has been certain. The Cardinals have a team ready to win right now and he gives them the best chance to finish off games.  Don’t look at this as a game with defined roles based off of projections.  Look at the guy that right now gives you the best chance to win.  His name is Devin “Bud” Norris and he should be the closer.

NBA Draft Preview

The 2018 NBA Regular Season is coming to an end next week.  As the race for championship continues the battle for the bottom is s till very interesting. Let’s begin our mock draft

Phoenix Suns select Deandre Ayton, Center, Arizona

Deandre Ayton tenure at Arizona was not one the university will not be one of that many will remember for positive reasons.  Fact is that Ayton is the clear #1 selection for a Suns team that is in full rebuild mode.  Devin Booker and Josh Jackson give them some light at the end of an extremely dark tunnel but with the addition of a player like Ayton that tunnel may have an emergency generator that keeps the lights on for at least the extent of a rookie contract.  The Suns last attempt drafting a big man was not successful, former Maryland big man Alex Len has not developed into an impact player that they hoped when they used their 5th overall pick on him in 2013.  Ayton though is considered to be that blue chip prospect that can help this team back to relevance.  This is a no brainer at #1, the only way to screw it up is to not do what everyone thinks you should do.

 Memphis Grizzlies select Luka Doncic, Guard, Real Madrid

Luka Doncic enters the 2018 NBA draft as one of the most respected Euroleague resumes. Doncic also led Slovenia to last summer’s Eurobasket title. Doncic is comfortable in the lead guard position but will most likely need to learn to play a wing role along side Mike Conley. The Grizzlies have to find a direction for the franchise as they begin to see the decline of Marc Gasol, a young talented import is the answer, he can be the next star in a Grizzlies uniform.  The Grizzlie will probably still stink next year but at least they will get nice media coverage with this pick.

Dallas Mavericks select Marvin Bagley, Forward, Duke University

The Dallas Mavericks are one of the two teams that have been openly tanking to help their draft position.  They find themselves picking number three on draft day and will score themselves a marquee forward to build their franchise around. Marvin Bagley was one of the most productive college basketball prospects all season long at Duke, utilizing his athletic mismatch to score in the paint and manufacturing easy baskets on the offensive glass at an elite clip.

Atlanta Hawks select Jaren Jackson, Forward, Michigan State

The Hawks stink, but they really stink defensively. The answer for them is Jaren Jackson. His shot blocking numbers (5.5 per-40) are off the charts, and teams are intrigued by has ability to protect the rim and defend in space while also being able to space the floor (39.6% from three). The Hawks have no identity, they are looking to build around point guard Dennis Schroder.  They need to cut bait with everyone over 25 and build their team around the length of Jackson and the continuing development of Taurean Prince. The Hawks are still very far away from being a competitive team.

Orlando Magic select Michael Porter Jr., Forward, Missouri

The Orlando Magic have a couple of nice pieces to build around with Evan Fournier and Nikola Vucevic. The impending free agency of cornerstone Aaron Gordon leaves an opening at the power forward position, the perfect fit will still be available with Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr. Porter Jr’s injury derailed what could have been a fun year for the Tigers in the now basketball strong SEC.   Porter Jr is a scorer with the size of a power forward and the movement of a point guard.  While I could see the Magic taking a shot on Trae Young here, they would be wise to go with MPJ his size and skill will make him an immediate impact.

Sacramento Kings select Trae Young, Guard, Oklahoma

This is a dream for the Sacramento Kings.   A draft full of centers! Hopefully they make the intelligent decision and take the best player n the board for them.  Trae Young is a captivating player that will give the Kings some attention in the California market. Trae Young alongside De’aron Fox may not work out in the long run due to the fact that both players are very ball heavy.  But if I am the Kings and a talent and marketable asset like Young falls into my lap I have to go with it.

Chicago Bulls select Mohammad Bamba, Center, Texas

The Chicago Bulls greatest dream would be for Trae Young to fall to them but that is unlikely. So they will have to go to plan b.  Luckily for the Bulls plan b is Mo Bamba! All-league defensive potential is the center of Bamba’s appeal, and while Texas’s season wound up a disappointment, he’s shown plenty of ability and held steady as a top selection. The Bulls have a built a nice core of young talent lead by 2017 first round pick Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn, and Bobby Portis.  The Robin Lopez stop gap is coming to an end.  Plug in Bamba and let him swat shots all over the arena.  His skills will continue to grow on the offensive end.

Cleveland Cavaliers (from Brooklyn) select Wendell Carter, Forward, Duke

Wendall Carter is a man at 6′ 10″ 260lbs. Carter was as solid as possible for the Blue Devils last season and is ready to make the transition to the NBA.  Carter has the ability to spread the defense with mid range shooting as well as be a stable force in the middle. Pairing Carter with the range of Kevin Love will give that Cavaliers a solid punch in the middle and from the outside. His impressive skill level, passing and on-court feel should help him find an NBA fit, and a different system might unlock more of his skills.

New York Knicks select Mikal Bridges, Guard/Forward, Villanova

The Knicks shocked everyone last season going with Frank Ntilikina with the 8th overall pick in the 2017 draft. Ktilikina showed glimpses of his potential during the season, but it has been the emergence of Trey Burke that has brought the most impact to the Knick during the season.  The Knicks have a strong core with the Unicorn, Enes Kanter, and a few different options at the point.  A great addition will be some 3 and D wing help like Mikal Bridges.  His upside could very easily point him in the top 5 so this could be a steal for the Knicks.

Philadelphia 76ers (from LAL) select Jalen Brunson, Guard, Villanova

I am going to be honest in saying this probably is a long shot, the realistic pick for the Sixers would probably be Lonnie Walker from Miami or Miles Bridges from Michigan State.  Brunson doesn’t have the traditional tools of an NBA top ten pick, his athleticism has been questioned as well as his size. He relies on his considerable craft to compensate for a lack of top-flight quickness and understands how to pick his spots, change speed and direction and score the ball.  Brunson brings a lot of grit as well as considerable leadership to whatever team he plays for.  With the talent the Sixers have put together strong leadership is something that they have to value.

Brunson is a long shot in this spot, the Sixers really need a defensive stopper at the guard positon, Walker from Miami really does make a lot more sense but to see Brunson in Philly would be awesome for everyone.

 

That’s my top ten at this point…things always change this time of year I will continue to update a we get closer to the draft.

 

 

Wainwright or Flaherty? The Debate

Adam Wainwright has been the backbone of the St. Louis Cardinals rotation since he became a full time starter in 2007.  146 wins over his career has earned him the respect of players and fans alike, but as he steps on the mound Thursday for the Cardinals home opener the fan base has been split on whether this is the right decision.

Jack Flaherty has been a top prospect in the Cardinals system for the last few seasons.  Reaching as high as #38 on MLB.com’s prospect rankings.  The former first round pick carried his spring training momentum into the regular season striking out 9 over 5 innings against the vaunted Milwaukee Brewers lineup.  Flaherty had the misfortune of being the odd man out of the rotation with the return of Wainwright.  The question for Flaherty is, What happens next?

Flaherty will continue to make starts in Memphis.  While he has nothing more to prove in the minors sending Flaherty down was the only choice to the Cardinals.  Wainwright may one day be an option for the bullpen but as of now you have to see if he still has anything left in the tank. If he does have the ability to get outs it can be a huge asset to a playoff run with his veteran presence on the mound.  No one will debate that Flaherty was great in Milwaukee, but has not yet earned the confidence to say that he is the answer in the rotation.  2017’s 6+ ERA may be a thing of the past but it still lingers in the mind of Cardinals management.

The reason the move has caused such a backlash from Cardinals Nation is really due to Cardinals management giving mixed signals to its fanbase.  During the offseason John Mozeliak made it clear that the Cardinals were set with their young arms.  They planned to move forward with the young arms rather then spend money on a veteran like Jason Vargas or bringing back long time Cardinal Lance Lynn.  After making such a bold statement in the offseason they seem to contradict themselves by sending down the young arm before you are sure your veteran is ready to go.

The St. Louis fanbase lives for their Cardinals.  They are allowed to question the decisions by management.  But when you look at this situation, this was the only move that made sense.  Adam Wainwright is not going to the bullpen, Jack Flaherty makes no sense moving to the bullpen.  By sending Flaherty down now it also allows him to continue his regular rotation spot.  Flaherty has to stay positive – especially with the injury histories of Michael Wacha and Adam Wainwright – the uncertainty of Luke Weaver and Miles Mikolas there will be a spot for the young hurler to make an impact in the 2018 season.

Jack Flaherty is going to be a good, possibly great starting pitcher on the major league level but he has to be patient and mature during this process.  Go talk to Carson Kelly about how to handle this situation.  Don’t ask Pham.