For much of last season stat-heads pointed to the Cardinals’ amazing .330 batting average with runners in scoring position–the highest mark ever since the stat has been tracked–as unsustainable because it was based as much on good fortune as good hitting.
This season the Cardinals have hit just .243 with runners in scoring position, which has played a big part in St. Louis’ offense going from leading the league in runs last season by more than 10 percent over the second-place team to ranking 13th in runs per game this season.
Because of that dropoff fans and media members have been critical of the coaching staff, which in turn has manager Mike Matheny firing back at the critics. Here’s what Matheny told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch:
You’re putting as much work if not more now than what you did last year when things were going so well. You’ve got people taking cheap shots all the time. You’re human. You wear that. Plus you know that the [players] are not happy with where the guys are right now. If you have coaches who don’t care, then they’re just putting in their time and chalking it up to a number of issues. That’s not what we have.
When an entire team hits .331 with runners in scoring position for an entire season it’s going to make everyone involved look like genius. And when an entire team hits .243 with runners in scoring position it’s going to have the opposite effect. As usual the truth is probably somewhere in between, but if Matheny and the coaching staff were willing to accept the endless praise for last year’s remarkable RISP numbers then it seems like they should also be willing to accept some of the so-called “cheap shots” this time around.
Last Thursday, it was reported that the Twins and Braves had struck a deal involving starter Jaime Garcia. The deal hit a snag, but it’s now official, the Twins announced on Monday. The Twins get Garcia and catcher Anthony Recker, as well as cash considerations. The Braves receive minor league pitcher Huascar Ynoa.
Garcia, 31, has a 4.30 ERA and an 85/41 K/BB ratio over 113 innings this season. He started on Friday against the Dodgers and wound up hitting a grand slam while also tossing seven innings of three-run ball.
Recker, 33, has played in only six games in the majors this season, registering just one single in seven plate appearances. With Triple-A Gwinnett, he batted .223/.301/.381 in 156 trips to the dish.
Ynoa, 19, signed with the Twins for $800,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2014. This year, with the Twins’ rookie ball team in Elizabethton, the right-hander gave up 16 runs (15 earned) on 28 hits and 14 walks with 23 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings. Ynoa was the Twins’ No. 22 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.
Ken Rosenthal reports that the Twins are assuming the remainder of Garcia’s salary (about $4.55 million) and $200,000 of Recker’s $300,000 salary. The Braves are sending $100,000 to the Twins.
Long-time rotation mainstay Tom Koehler was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans on Monday and reliever Hunter Cervenka was recalled, the Marlins announced.
Koehler, 31, made 131 starts out of the Marlins’ rotation over the last five years, but his 12 this season have not been good, so the club hopes he can figure things out with a stint in the minors. He’s carrying a 7.92 ERA with a 44/29 K/BB ratio in 55 2/3 innings. Koehler battled bursitis in his right shoulder in May and June, which may partially explain his struggles.
Cervenka, 27, posted a 4.50 ERA with a 34/21 K/BB ratio in 34 innings of relief with New Orleans. He hasn’t pitched in the majors yet this season, but compiled a 3.53 ERA over 43 1/3 innings in the bigs last year in the Marlins’ bullpen.