Saturday, January 28, 2006
Whatever you may think about the Cardinals' rotation, it's got a lot of hopes pinned on it. The burden is pretty evenly distributed across the team, but the rotation, no matter who ends up rounding it out, has to be solid enough to give the Cards a chance to win enough games to capture the NL Central for the third year in a row. In the NL East, the Mets also have their hopes of dethroning the Braves resting, in part, on their starting rotation. The rotations of these two teams share a very similar structure, if not slightly different tasks. Anchoring the rotation for the Redbirds and the Metropolitans, are established right-handed hurlers, aces that rank among the best in the league. Pedro Martinez is older than Chris Carpenter, but both can be counted on for a sub-3.00 ERA, 200+ K, and better than 15 wins. Like true aces, they can wins games for their teams, stealing a few for themselves when the hitters can't get their job done. In the second spot, each team puts out lefties better known for the ability induce grounders than throw the high heat. In his second year with the Cardinals, Mark Mulder hopes to become the Tom Glavine for a new generation. Mulder's off-speed repertoire helped make him an effective pitcher, despite a k/9 rate that dipped to 4.87. Glavine's career k/9 rates varied from season to season, but were pretty consistently below 6.00. He owns a career k/9 of 5.35 to Mulder's 5.80. The remaining spots in each rotation are rounded out with efficient, less-than-exciting starters. Like Suppan, Trachsel has been effective in rounding out the rotation, giving his team some decent starting pitching and the chance to in games. Give me Jeff Suppan over Steve Trachsel. Supe transcended mediocrity a bit last season, and has really taken his game up a notch in the playoffs. Suppan's a few years younger than Trax, too. Marquis and Victor Zambrano fill another spot in each team's rotation. Both guys have potential, but experience some periods of suck-i-tude when they insist on trying to finesse hitters instead of throwing the pitches that have given them success. Finally, each rotation is capped off with something of a question. For the Mets, the question is whether or not to let 27 year old Aaron Heilman start, which he is as of now, or to put him in the pen where he had much success. For the Cards, the question is whether to start the young, talented, and ready for the majors Anthony Reyes or the newly acquired 'project' Sidney Ponson. The resolution to each question could have a significant impact on the success for each team. Over at Mets Geek, they're optimistic that this rotation can unseat the Braves this year. There's little reason not to have a similar optimism that the Cards' rotation can help the team claim the NL Central again.