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Frogs in the MLB: Cashner and Carpenter fight bad luck, Arrieta tries to keep Phillies in the fight

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Baltimore Orioles Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Jake Arrieta (P/Philadelphia Phillies) -

Arrieta had his longest outing yet on May 11 at home against the Mets. He pitched 7 13 innings, keeping the Mets scoreless, even with 5 hits allowed. He struck out 5 and walked 2. Unfortuately, the Phillies ended up losing the game, but it was a no-decision for Arrieta.

Arrieta lowered his ERA to 2.59 with a WHIP of 1.06. You can see his full stats here. Arrieta will pitch tonight on the road in St. Louis.

Matt Carpenter (1B/St. Louis Cardinals) -

The Cardinals made some changes this week with Carpenter. They moved him down in the lineup, which wasn’t unexpected based on his numbers this season. But it still stings.

Carpenter faced Minnesota at home, the Padres on the road, and Minnesota on the road this week. The changes to the lineup did nothing to help him at the plate, until May 16. In game 2 against the twins, Carpenter hit a single in the top of the 6th, a double in the top of the 7th, and a double-turned-triple-on-an-error in the top of the 9th. He brought in Dexter Fowler with that double in the 7th, giving the Cards a 6-3 lead. They went on to win 7-5.

Carp hit another double at home against the Phillies last night. The Cardinals lost 6-2, but hopefully this lineup change will take some pressure off of Carpenter and allow him to make a few changes before resuming his usual awesomeness this season.

For all you statistics people, our resident FOW mathy-math guy, Parker, has taken a look at Carpenter’s stats and given a little insight into what his numbers might allude to this season. Here are his thoughts:

“At first glance, the 2018 iteration of Matt Carpenter appears not to be an upgrade on previous versions. The Frog-turned-Cardinal infielder is at career lows in on base percentage, slugging, average, and walk rate. For the first time in a few years, Matt Carpenter is batting lower than fifth in the lineup - a symbol of the extent of this current slump. But fear not, Frog faithful - I have reason to believe a turnaround is on the horizon.

A few quick points about Matt Carpenter’s season, with some optimism sprinkled in:

1. Carp has vocalized discontent with his swing change of 2017. Last season, Matt shifted focus to higher launch angles, more fly balls and more power. That came at a cost - 2017 saw the second highest strikeout total and the lowest full-season batting average of his career. This slump to start the season is partially a function of the de-transition out of “slugger mode” back into Carp’s old “plate discipline and contact” ways.

2. Speaking of contact - Matt is still making it. His hard hit rate is the highest of his career. I hate to be the guy who says “oh it’s probably just bad luck” but, there is a luck element. Matt’s expected stats are exactly in line with his career averages, indicating some bad bounces and some spectacular fielding opponents. Over the course of the season, that should even out, suggesting that MC will be back to his old self soon enough.

3. Finally, not to end on a dour note, but I’m going to end on a dour note. There will be some upward regression to the hitter Matt Carpenter has been, but success beyond that will take some adjustment. Carp has seen more fastballs this season, and hit worse against fastballs, than he ever has in his career. There’s a book on Carpenter now, and he’s going to have to catch up with these pitches and stop flailing for weak contact - power doesn’t come from fighting off pitches. Along with that, the scouting report on Carpenter is spot on - he is shifted against 82 percent of the time, and his performance against the shift is 25% worse than no shift. Until Matt shows he can spread the ball around, he’s going to struggle to get the ball down around better positioned defenders.

Given the consistency of his expected statistics, the adjustment of hitting approach, and the knowledge of his fastball issue, Matt Carpenter’s slump is not unexpected, and should not be alarming. The Cardinals will bat him lower in the order, let him figure a few things out, and in due time, one of TCU’s favorite sons should be back to his hitting ways.”

Carpenter currently has 12 runs and 20 hits, with 3 home runs and 14 RBIs on the season. He has an average is up to .164. You can see his full stats here. The Cardinals will play the Phillies at home tonight, with Arrieta scheduled to pitch.

Andrew Cashner (P/Baltimore Orioles) -

Cashner had a decent outing on May 16 at home against the Phillies. He pitched for 5 23 innings, allowing 3 runs on 5 hits, including 1 home run. He struck out 6 while walking 3. Cashner had a great game going until he stayed in for the 6th inning...in the rain. That’s when the Phillies were able to go ahead. Unfortunately, the Orioles lost 4-1, handing Cashner a loss for his record. Also, can we talk about how the Orioles had four hits in the entire game? Once again, Cashner tries to carry the team on his back. And this time, a slippery baseball in the 6th inning kept him from achieving that.

Cashner currently has a 4.83 ERA and a 1.49 WHIP. The Orioles haven’t released the full pitching schedule for the week, so keep an eye out for Cashner on the mound sometime early next week, if they stick with their current rotation schedule. You can see his full stats here.

Brandon Finnegan (P/Cincinnati Reds) -

Finnegan was optioned to Triple-A Louisville on May 10. Hopefully the Reds can tweak a few things and bring him back to the rotation soon.

Finnegan currently has a 7.40 ERA. You can see his full stats here.

Bryan Holaday (C/Miami Marlins) -

Holaday hasn’t been in the lineup since last week, but he returned last night to face the Dodgers. The Marlins played Wednesday night and had a quick turn-around with an early-afternoon game yesterday. Holaday was paired with pitcher Kaleb Smith for the game, and Smith seems to be a good fit for him. Starting catcher JT Realmuto used Thursday as a rest day. Holaday didn’t have any luck againt the Dodgers, but neither did the rest of the Marlins, as they took a 7-0 loss.

Holaday currently has 4 runs and 7 hits, with 3 RBIs and 1 home run. His AVG is .175. You can see his full stats here. Miami will play on the road against Atlanta tonight.