Stephen Piscotty (Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports Images)

A recap of St. Louis Cardinals-related news from the period of April 3 through 9, 2017

Last week’s St. Louis Cardinals news includes another major contract signing and a rough time physically afterward for Stephen Piscotty, while the team is off to a bumpy 2-4 start to the regular season. A new Cardinals history feature debuts.

Piscotty signs six year extension

In a move that was a surprise to many, the St. Louis Cardinals announced on Monday that they completed a deal for a six year contract extension with Stephen Piscotty.  The outfielder is in his second full season in the majors and is not yet eligible for arbitration.  The deal buys out all of Piscotty’s arbitration years, plus at least one year of free agency.  The extension contains an option for 2023, which if exercised would extend the contract to Piscotty’s second free agent year.

http://www.scout.com/player/140971-stephen-piscotty?s=321

The financial value of the contract is $33.75 million for the six guaranteed years.  The $15 million option year could extend the contract’s value to $48.75 million. 

Piscotty joins Allen Craig, Matt Carpenter, and Kolten Wong as Cardinals position players signing multi-year deals before becoming arbitration eligible. Only Jedd Gyorko and Ryan Braun have signed multi-year extensions worth more than Piscotty’s before reaching 1,000 plate appearances.

Piscotty has a slash line of .280/.348/.464, with 29 home runs and 124 RBI in 918 plate appearances with St. Louis.

 

Lynn expresses interest in extension, too

On the heels of the Piscotty announcement, starting pitcher Lance Lynn publicly expressed an interest in a long term deal, one that could make him a Cardinal for life.

Lynn is in the last year of his contract, a three year $22 million dollar deal signed in 2015.  The RHP turns 30 in May, and will enter free agency in the offseason if he doesn’t make a deal to stay.

http://www.scout.com/player/63554-lance-lynn?s=321

Lynn is coming off Tommy John surgery that required him to miss all of last season.  The Cardinals are not likely to consider any extension with Lynn until he has shown he is healthy and effective. Because all of his option years have been exhausted, any extension would likely be at full market value, decreasing the odds of its completion.

 

Game Recaps

Monday, April 3 - Off day

 

Tuesday, April 4 - Cardinals 1, Cubs 2

The Cardinals fell to the Cubs in this second game of the season debut series.  Adam Wainwright got the start, and he pitched five innings, giving up two runs on three hits while fanning six and walking two for an ERA of 3.60.  Matt Bowman pitched a scoreless sixth.  In succession, Brett Cecil, Kevin Siegrist, and Jonathan Broxton each added a scoreless inning.  Wainwright took his first loss of the season.

The game remained scoreless until the fourth, when the Cubs took a 1-0 lead. A Kolten Wong RBI single in the fifth plated the only St. Louis run.  This particular inning featured a trip around the bases for Stephen Piscotty that he will not soon forget.  Reaching base on a hit by pitch to the inside of the right elbow, Piscotty stole second base, and the throw hit him on the left elbow guard.  As a result of errors on the Wong single, Piscotty rushed home and was hit in the helmet ear flap by the throw.  Piscotty was not seriously hurt, but came out of the game, and did not return to the lineup for a couple of days.  Piscotty was safe at home.

 

Wednesday, April 5 – Cardinals vs. Cubs

This game was postponed due to rain in the area.  The game was played Thursday, April 6.

 

Thursday, April 6 - Cardinals 4, Cubs 6

In the final game of the series, the Cardinals again went down in defeat to the Cubs.  St. Louis took a 3-0 lead in the first inning.  A bungled catch by Cubs’ infielder Ben Zobrist on an attempted double play led to the first Cardinals run.  RBI singles by Matt Adams and Matt Carpenter plated two more.  A sac fly by Yadier Molina brought the fourth and final run home in the fifth.  Aledmys Diaz had a good day at the plate, going 2-for-5 with two runs scored.

Lance Lynn made his first start of the season, pitching 5 1/3 innings and surrendering two runs on five hits.  The righty fanned four and walked one.  Matt Bowman replaced Lynn with one out in the sixth and got the final two outs to end the inning.

Brett Cecil began the seventh but had a very bad day, leaving the game having recorded no outs and relinquishing four Cubs’ runs, including a Kyle Schwarber three run home run.  Cecil was charged with the blown save and the loss.  Cecil’s bad day also included the second oddity of the series.  A Cecil third strike pitch hit the dirt and Yadier Molina attempted to block it.  Molina couldn’t find the ball, and with the batter advancing to first, it was discovered too late that the ball had stuck to Molina’s chest protector.  An explanation for this oddity has not been offered.  Both Cecil and Molina denied the use of any foreign substance.

Miguel Socolovich replaced Cecil, got the three outs in the seventh and then returned for the eighth with no additional runs scored.  Sam Tuivailala pitched a scoreless ninth.

 

Friday, April 7 - Cardinals 0, Reds 2

In the first game of a weekend series against the Reds, the Cardinals came up short.  Short as in no offense whatsoever.  There were just two hits, from the 8th place hitter Kolten Wong, and the pitcher, Mike Leake.  Both were singles. The Cardinals offense was stymied by a starting pitcher they had never seen before, and two relievers they had seen. 

Mike Leake pitched a great game for naught with one run on six hits over eight innings.  He struck out six.  Leake even hit the ball.  His teammates, with one exception, did not.  Kevin Siegrist pitched the ninth and surrendered the second Reds’ run.  Leake took the hard luck loss.

No odd plays, just an offense asleep at the wheel.

 

Saturday, April 8 - Cardinals 10, Reds 4

St. Louis’ offense finally woke up, though just for one game, pounding 40-year-old Bronson Arroyo.  Aledmys Diaz, after going 0-for-4 in Friday’s game, came roaring back from his slumber with two long balls.  Diaz hit a solo shot in the first inning to put the Cardinals on the board.  A second run scored in that inning on an RBI double off the bat of Yadier Molina.  

http://www.scout.com/player/187201-aledmys-diaz?s=321

The Cardinals scored four in the fourth, beginning with a Michael Wacha RBI single, and ending with Diaz’ second home run, a three run blast to left.  With the bases loaded in the sixth, pinch hitter Jose Martinez drew a walk to plate the seventh St. Louis run.  Jedd Gyorko followed with an RBI single that scored two.  The tenth and final run came home on a Kolten Wong groundout in the eighth.  Diaz was 3-for-5 with three runs scored.  Gyorko was 2-for-3.

Starter Wacha tossed six strong innings, allowing only one run on three hits. The right-hander struck out six and walked one to earn his first win of the season.  Matt Bowman pitched a scoreless seventh.  Jonathan Broxton began the eighth and surrendered two Reds’ runs on two hits.  Sam Tuivailala pitched the ninth and relinquished the fourth and final Reds’ run.

 

Sunday, April 9 - Cardinals 0, Reds 8

In the rubber game of the series, the Cardinals’ offense once again failed to show up.  Redbirds batters manage six hits this time, but the number of runs was the same as Friday’s game.  The blowout pain was exacerbated by defensive errors, and a subpar performance by the starting pitcher.

Carlos Martinez, brilliant on Opening Day, was lackluster in his second start.  The right hander pitched five innings, giving up five runs on six hits, and sending his ERA from 0.00 to 3.65.  Brett Cecil pitched a scoreless sixth inning.   Miguel Socolovich surrendered a run in the seventh.  Sam Tuivailala pitched a run-free eighth, but Seung-Hwan Oh relinquished one more run in the ninth.  After getting a no decision in his Opening Day start, Martinez earned his first loss of the season.

Of the six Cardinals hits, only one went for extra bases, a double off the bat of Randal Grichuk.  Aledmys Diaz, Matt Carpenter, Matt Adams, Yadier Molina, and Eric Fryer each singled.

The defense committed three errors.  Two were made by 3B Jhonny Peralta on the same play, a fielding and a throwing error.  Randal Grichuk added a fielding miscue in right field.

 

NL Central Standings

The Cardinals went 2-4 on the homestand, losing both series to the Cubs and the Reds.  After the first week, the Cardinals are in 4th place in the NL Central, a half-game out of the cellar.

  W L % GB
Chicago Cubs 4 2 0.667 ---
Cincinnati 4 2 0.667 ---
Pittsburgh 3 2 0.600 0.5
St. Louis 2 4 0.333 2
Milwaukee 2 5 0.286 2.5

 

Who’s Hot

Aledmys Diaz is batting .304 with and OPS of .957, two HRs and four RBI over the first five games.

Mike Leake has an ERA of 1.13 and a WHIP of 0.88.

Michael Wacha has an ERA of 1.50 and a WHIP of 0.67

 

Who’s Not

Jhonny Peralta is batting .182 with an OPS of .364 over the first five games.

Matt Carpenter is batting .118 with an OPS of .356.

Seung-Hwan Oh has an ERA of 16.20 and a WHIP of 1.20.

Brett Cecil has an ERA of 36.00 and a WHIP of 5.00.

Jonathan Broxton has an ERA of 9.00 and a WHIP of 2.00.

 

A Look at Cardinals Lineups

The lineups over the first five games:

The leadoff hitter has been Dexter Fowler.

The number 2 hitter has been Aledmys Diaz.

The number 3 hitter has been Matt Carpenter.

The number 4 hitter has been Jhonny Peralta twice, Yadier Molina, Stephen Piscotty, and Matt Adams.

The number 5 hitter has been Molina three times, Adams, and Peralta.

The number 6 hitter has been Piscotty twice, Molina twice, and Randal Grichuk.

The number 7 hitter has been Jedd Gyorko three times, and Grichuk twice.

The number 8 hitter has been Kolten Wong four times and Grichuk once.

 

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

The Cardinals are among the teams reported to have serious interest in signing 19 year old Cuban outfield prospect Luis Robert.  Robert has not yet been cleared to sign with a major league team.

 

Transactions

The Cardinals sent Tyler Lyons on a rehab assignment to the Memphis Redbirds.

 

Injury Report

LHP Tyler Lyons (right knee surgery) was sent on a rehab assignment to Memphis.  No timetable has been set for Lyons’ return to the active roster. He is scheduled to make his second Triple-A start on Wednesday, April 12, likely again in a piggyback arrangement with Arturo Reyes.

Stephen Piscotty has some knee soreness due to a slide into second base on Friday.  The outfielder was not in the starting lineup in either game on Saturday or Sunday.  This latest injury follows a wild path on the bases in Tuesday’s game in which Piscotty was hit three times, initially by a pitch, then twice more when running the bases.  Piscotty was hit in the head at home plate by a throw, and though he passed concussion protocols, was left out of Thursday’s game.

http://www.scout.com/player/133929-trevor-rosenthal?s=321

Trevor Rosenthal (lat tightness) is nearing a return to the roster.  The RHP threw three bullpen sessions this past week and a simulated inning over the weekend.  Rosenthal will be evaluated by the medical staff on Sunday, and if he checks out, the right-hander will likely return to the roster for the Nationals’ series that begins on Monday.

The most likely player to be sent down to Triple-A is Sam Tuivailala, who had been added to the roster when Rosenthal went on the 10-day DL.

http://www.scout.com/player/179139-luke-weaver?s=321

Memphis has a roster opening after starting pitcher Luke Weaver was placed on the 7-day DL with a hand/finger injury on Sunday. The move was made retroactive to April 7 after Weaver left his Opening Day start after two innings. At this point, the Redbirds have not announced who is taking Weaver’s turn in the rotation. Kurt Heyer and Thomas Lee are among potential candidates if sourced in-house.

Update: Late Monday morning, the Cardinals officially announced the Rosenthal and Tuivailala transactions. Weaver's problem is lower back stiffness, according to Jen Langosch of MLB.com.

https://twitter.com/B_Walton/status/851514029327745024

 

Looking Ahead

The Cardinals take their first road trip of the season, traveling to the Nation’s Capital to take on the Nationals.  Adam Wainwright will get the start on Monday, followed by Lance Lynn on Tuesday, and Mike Leake on Wednesday. 

After a travel day on Thursday, the Cards travel to New York to take on the Yankees in a weekend interleague series.  Michael Wacha will get the Friday start.  Saturday and Sunday’s starter are yet to be announced, but will likely be Carlos Martinez and Wainwright.

The Cardinals return home on Monday the 17th to begin a three game series against the Pirates.  They will then follow with a four game series against the Brewers in Milwaukee.

St. Louis’ regular season schedule can be found here.

 

Blast from the Past

This is a new feature in the weekly Cardinals report, in celebration of 125 years of baseball in St. Louis. Each week, some fun fact or oddity from any chosen year of St. Louis baseball will be featured here.  The choice will be something that strikes the author’s fancy.  This debut installment comes from the 1882 St. Louis Brown Stockings team, and is most appropriate given that April 10 is National Siblings Day.

The Cardinals have had several sets of brothers who were teammates.  The most recent of these pairings were the Benes brothers, Andy and Alan, who played together for St. Louis over four seasons: 1996, 1997, 2000, and 2001.  The 1882 St. Louis team had a pair brothers as well, Bill and Jack Gleason.

1882 St. Louis Browns

(The above photo was shared by Wade Forrester of onthisdayincardinalnation.com. Our thanks to him!)

Jack Gleason was four years older than his brother Bill.  Bill was a shortstop, Jack was a third baseman and an outfielder.  The year 1882 was Bill’s debut season, Jack had been playing with the St. Louis Brown Stockings since 1877, before the team was purchased by Chris von der Ahe in 1881 (the 1882 team is the first team officially recognized; the reasons for that will not be detailed here).

The Gleason brothers were both born in St. Louis, died in St. Louis, and buried in Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis.  Bill died at the age of 73 in 1932; Jack passed away at the age of 90 in 1944.

Who was the better player?   Neither, as statistics available indicate the brothers’ stats were too similar to distinguish them.  If there was sibling rivalry, it isn’t likely it was for a baseball performance reason.

 

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