Let’s take a look at the pitching match-up:

On the Phillies side you have Roy Halladay. The man whose been the best pitcher in baseball for the past 10 years.  A man who is an absolute machine. He pumps out more complete games in a year than the number of sick days Wal-Mart employees are given out. This was all in the best division in baseball, and that didn’t seem to matter to him. Now he’s in the NL and doing even better.  May God have mercy on us all.

On the Cardinals side you Kyle Lohse. Mr. Mediocrity. The man whose best year was an ERA+ of 113. After that he was given a contract which overpaid him and could best be described in adjectives that would describe my future: Hopeless. Bleak. Gay As All Hell.

And the lineups. Lohse will be facing the best lineup in the NL. Halladay will be facing one that was just shut down by Kyle  Kendrick. The future I see for this game: a boot stomping into a human face forever.

But, I’ll still watch. That’s the beauty of baseball. One of the best pitchers in baseball vs. a fifth starter sounds ugly but the Cardinals’ odds of winning are the same as any day: 50/50. Every game is a coinflip. Great players have bad days. Terrible players go out there and play the game of their careers. Or things go as you expect, but then the Phillies’ bullpen has a meltdown. Who know, that’s baseball.


Let’s just cut straight to the chase. Brad Penny, the man who even the most optimistic Cardinal fans saw as a decent third starter, just had a fanastic April, posting an ERA of 1.56 and an FIP of 2.74. If he keeps this up, the Cardinals could put up a case for the best rotation in baseball. The Buttload of Money Dollar Question, though, is will he?

He’s obviously due for a regression, of course. Allowing 0 home runs and stranding 83% of baserunners is simply not sustainable. Although his ERA is going to take a bit of a jump when those numbers approach the mean, there are signs that he will still be able to put up some great numbers for a third starter. And of course, the man we have to thank for this career rejuvenation is Dave Duncan.

Thanks to Duncan’s philosophy, Penny’s K/9 and BB/9 are both down. His BB/9 has taken a bigger hit, though, and his K/BB ratio is the highest it’s been since 2006. What’s even more significant, though, is Penny’s groundball rate. 52.8% of balls put into play are grounders, which is his career high.

So it’s the usual Duncan story, right? Pitcher sacrifices fastball velocity for more control and movement and watches the groundballs flow like wine. Actually, this isn’t the case. Penny’s average fastball velocity is at 93.8 MPH, which is actually a little faster than his career average. The key is he’s throwing it less. A lot less. The 20% less than his career kind of less. What’s happened is that he’s now throwing a split-finger 29.8% of the time instead of his career’s 2.5%. And it’s paying huge dividends. For every 100 splitters thrown, it’s 4.48 runs better than the league average. That’s good for the best splitter in the majors.

So yeah, after all the homeruns and the stranded runners catch up with him, Penny can still be very good if his splitter stays with him.