JSF Power Rankings: Worst Starters to Shut Down the 2010 Cardinals


One of the main faults that became evident with the 2010 Cardinals was the inconsistent offense. Even with two of the best in the lineup everyday in Pujols and Holliday, the Cardinals managed to score two runs or less 50 times, roughly once every three games.

Of all the lackluster offensive performances they offered up, none stung quite as bad as ones in which a scrub pitcher seemingly morphed into Sandy Koufax for one night. With that in mind, this week’s Power Rankings plucked out the five worst pitchers who were able to shut down the Cardinals offense in 2010.

5.) Kevin Correia, San Diego Padres (SDP 2, STL 1)
On May 26 the eight-year mediocre veteran threw six scoreless innings at Busch Stadium, giving up only five hits and matching that with five strikeouts. Not an overly dominant performance but a little more depressing considering that this season, Correia has managed to give up four or more runs in exactly 50% of his starts and racked up a 5.40 ERA despite playing home games in one of the league’s best pitching parks.

To make matters even worse, his season in San Diego has been summarized by the phrase that a starter never wants to hear – after 26 starts, he has been “relegated to the bullpen”. Not even his game against the Cardinals could save him.

4.) Daniel McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates (PIT 5, STL 2)
If nothing else, watching McCutchen pitch against the Cardinals was “historic”. With his season’s ERA at 6.25 in time spent between the bullpen and rotation, it was a night of career bests on August 25 when he took on the struggling St. Louis lineup.

His start was plopped in the middle of 18 straight relief apperances and, in response, McCutchen threw up the following milestones:

6 Innings Pitched (Tied for season high, one inning short of career high)
3 Hits Allowed (Lowest in any of his 14 career starts)
0 Earned Runs (Lowest in any of his 14 career starts)
5 Strikeouts (Tied for single-game career high)
1 Win (Increased career win total by 33%)
0 Hits Allowed to Albert Pujols (matches Pujols lowest career single-game batting avg.)

Let’s see if anyone can ever handle Pujols better than Danny did.

3.) New York Mets bullpen (NYM 2, STL 1)
In a painful-to-watch 20-inning loss to the Mets, the Cardinals put up 18 consecutive scoreless innings, 19 total.
The first seven were tossed by Johan Santana and the last one was tossed by Mike Pelfrey, both quality starters.
Starting in the 8th and running through the 17th, there were 11 consecutive shutout innings thrown by the following middle relievers: Ryota Igarashi, Pedro Feliciano, Fernando Nieve, Hisanori Takahashi, Jenrry Mejia and Raul Valdes. Thanks in part to LaRussa’s brilliant double switch that removed Holliday from the game and planted a pitcher in the slot behind Pujols, neither had a legit opportunity to wake the offense up.

It wasn’t until the Mets’ most dominant arm in the bullpen, Francisco Rodriguez, entered the game that the Cardinals were able to chalk up a whopping one run.

2.) Jeff Karstens, Pittsburgh Pirates (PIT 2, STL 0; STL 1, PIT 0)
On May 8, Jeff Karstens threw his best start of the year going 6IP, 3H, 0ER against the Cardinals and earning his first victory of the season (one third of his season total). It was early in the season, but as a quick frame of reference, take a peak at his start six days before and his relief appearance four days after his gem against the Birds:

May 2 @LAD – 5IP, 11H, 6ER
May 11 vs CIN – 1.2IP, 5H, 4ER

Let’s just say that proves he wasn’t exactly on a hot streak.

Come July, the Cardinals lineup was salivating at another chance to rock Karstens who was now carrying an ERA of 4.72. Six innings later, he had once again held them scoreless. Fortunately, Chris Carpenter matched his performance and allowed the Cardinals to sneak away with a 1-0 win in 10 innings.

Karstens currently holds a 3-10 record with a 4.88 ERA this season, but let it be known that the man has no fear of the Cardinals lineup.

1.) Bud Norris, Houston Astros
When a below average pitcher shuts down the Cardinals on a repeat basis, we’re proposing that it’s called “getting Norris’d”. Bud Norris’ overall career record in two years is 15-12 with a 4.87 ERA and a WAR of 0.1, aka completely replaceable.

Against the Cardinals, Norris is close to being an ace. In 2009, he racked up two wins in his only two starts against them, allowing a grand total of zero earned runs in the process. In just his second start of the 2010 season, he once again shut them down, this time for five innings where nine of the 15 outs he recored were via strikeout. A month later he threw the longest outing of his career – 8 innings – and let up one single run while winning his fourth straight against the Cardinals. He was like a young Dwight Gooden, except this version had an ERA of 7.52 going into the game.

The Birds finally chinked his armor on July 9 by scoring five runs over his 7 innings but then suffered a third loss to him on August 3.

He might only be a bottom of the rotation pitcher against everyone else, but let’s just say that nobody can “Norris” Tony LaRussa’s team better than Bud.


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