Tough loss for the Cardinals last night, which, as my father has told me in the past, is why they play the games. On paper, the Cubs should have dominated, especially the pitching matchup. Carlos Zambrano came in with 12 wins, Kip Wells with 12 losses. The ERA spread between the two was over two runs. Yet Wells did all he could to win that game and just about pulled it off.
The Kipster seems to be a different pitcher since his temporary reassignment to the bullpen. I know I said I wouldn’t be doing this terribly often (or very well), but let’s crunch some numbers:
Before the bullpen: 14 games, 76.2 innings pitched, 84 hits, 59 earned runs, 12 home runs, 42 walks, 57 strikeouts, 6.93 ERA, 1.64 WHIP
Bullpen and after: 7 games, 25 innings pitched, 22 hits, 6 earned runs, 0 home runs, 8 walks, 19 strikeouts, 2.16 ERA, 1.20 WHIP
If you take out that disastrous Philadelphia start right after the All-Star Break, it’s even more stunning, as Kip has a 0.75 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP. So that bullpen session apparently clicked for Wells. But what’s been the difference?
Before doing this stat compilation, my guess was that he wasn’t dilly-dallying around, but going right after the hitters, trusting his stuff to move enough to create problems for the hitters. That’s not borne out by the pitches per batter data, though. Before the switch, Wells was at 3.71 pitchers per batter faced. Afterwards, it’s 3.91.
What is the reasoning behind that? You’d think that as P/BF went up, the results would get worse. My guess is that his stuff is creating problems for the hitters, so they are taking more pitches instead of hacking at the first strike they see and putting it into play with not-so-pleasant results.
What else is different between the two stat lines? He’s not walking people, which again makes that increase in P/BF counterintuitive. Bad Kip was walking about a batter every two innings (.55/IP) and his K/BB ratio was only 1.36. Good Kip is walking one batter every three+ innings (.32/IP) and the K ratio is up to 2.38. (BTW, it’s .29/IP and 2.57 without that 4 runs,1 inning Phillies game.)
He has also improved his GB/FB ratio, which is big with this regime, as we all know. Before it was 1.64 GB/FB, which is still a good number, but since then it’s 1.95, so he’s really killing some worms.
All in all, it appears that Wells has really turned a corner. If this keeps up, the Cardinals should approach him about an extension soon. Next year’s rotation has few answers. Adam Wainwright will be in it, of course, and Mark Mulder should be back to take a slot. Mike Maroth could return, but that’s really going to depend on how he does down the stretch. Anthony Reyes has to be in the majors, but if LaRussa is returning, it very well may mean that Reyes has a different uniform on next year. Brad Thompson is earning a look for next year as well. The innings appear to be getting to Looper, and I’m not sure I’d want to see him starting games again next year.
No matter how you slice it, though, Carpenter’s loss leaves a hole in the rotation. This new-look Wells could be the guy to fill it.