The Cardinals had very few bright spots over the month of May. One that has gone under the radar was the development of Dakota Hudson. Hudson quietly established himself as the benchmark of consistency while covering for the struggles of other higher touted staff members. It’s time to notice that Hudson is stepping up in a time when the team needs him the most.
Entering May the Cardinals were on a roll but Hudson was seen as a likely candidate to be put on the bus back to Memphis. There wasn’t much of an argument to keep Hudson in the rotation over the first month and a half of the season. In the months of March/April Hudson gave up a slash line of .327/.400/.594. Hudson had become a punching bag for opposing offenses because he was not pitching to his strengths. Hudson was averaging 7.13 K/9 rate going along with a 55.4% ground ball rate. For him to be effective Dakota has to utilize what works for him by limiting hard contact and raising his ground ball percentages.
Hudson has rediscovered what makes him effective in May. Utilizing his sinker has seen his groundball rate raise by 10% in the month while limiting what was essentially his doom. Hudson has given up just one homer in his last seven starts, his ability to keep the ball down limiting the hard contact rate has made him a huge asset to the pitching staff. The reduction in his FIP is the most noticeable statistic showing a decrease from the astronomical 7.52 in March/April to 3.49 in May. Six of seven starts Hudson has went at least six innings giving up over two runs just one time, while giving up just no more than five hits over his last four starts. Finding his strength has meant a reduction in strikeouts per nine to 5.86, but that reduction has allowed him thrive on his strengths.
Lefties are still a problem for the young Cardinals hurler, giving up an wOBA of .420 during the 2019 season. Building off of his most recent start where he was able to hold down a left-handed heavy Reds middle of the order featuring Joey Votto, Derek Dietrich and Jesse Winker. This could be a sign of things to come as he has had a bit of bad luck against lefties with a BABIP of .367. His overall hard hit percentage has decreased by 3% in the month of May, with continued regression in this statistic Hudson can find himself improving his numbers against left handed hitters.
St. Louis is much maligned for not making moves to try and bolster their rotation and/or bullpen. Passing on Closer Craig Kimbrel and Starter Dallas Keuchel has St. Louis fans wondering whether John Mozeliak is really committed to winning in 2019. While Mo has made questionable decisions, his steadfast commitment to stick with developed players has not always been a terrible decision. When others were giving up on Hudson the Cardinals stuck with him and it is paying off with quality start after quality start.