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Friday, July 01, 2022

Surviving ‘the grind’: Cardinals’ plans to weather rigorous schedule ‘reveal a better team’

So, they had experience and Excel sheets.

“Well, one thing that has been similar to 2020 is asking, ‘Who is on the team today?’” pitching coach Mike Maddux said. “We’ve had a lot of changes, and sometimes those changes were out of an available arm because we can’t just keep beating the same guys up time and time and time again. In between there were some injuries and people on the IL for various reasons. It has challenged our depth. But I think it’s become a testament to our depth.”

Maddux works months ahead with the rotation, reverse-engineering it around off days and opponents. The Cardinals engineered the rotation to get Wainwright, Miles Mikolas, Dakota Hudson and Jack Flaherty in line to pitch at Milwaukee on the past road trip.

But, the plans are meant to be rewritten.

“You get one rainout,” Maddux said. “And that’s why you do it in pencil.”

As the Cardinals’ five-game, four-day visit to Wrigley Field neared, the team planned weeks in advance for how pitchers would be used at Triple-A Memphis just to be available, if … well … when needed. Pitch counts were managed, appearances set to avoid overlap, and then when the series arrived the Cardinals made six different pitching transactions. Thompson debuted. Jake Woodford was optioned, recalled, and optioned again in five days.

Tapping into the 40-man roster and beyond for innings has allowed the Cardinals to cover 647 2/3 innings over the past 77 days, 24 more than any other NL team. And they’ve done it with a 3.74 ERA, which ranks top 10 in the majors. That’s allowed them to keep pace with Milwaukee in the division as the Brewers deal with their own quirky schedule; they’ve already played 44 of their 81 road games.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 01, 2022 at 10:46 AM | 0 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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