Purple Rain: still better than a rainout. But it's actually kind of close this time.
It was disappointing to see the game rained out last night. You get all geared up for a do-or-die game, and then down comes the rain, washing the spider out and pushing all that pent-up energy off for another night.
I thought about making a list of five things to do during rainouts, but I could only come up with three things, and two of them were the same thing, just different positions, if you take my meaning. So instead, I got to thinking about what pushing the games back a day does to the Cardinals' chances. And I have to say, I think Mother Nature may have just done the Cardinals a pretty definite favor.
There are three benefits the Cards gain from being pushed back a day, and all three have to do with the pitching.
Benefit One: Jaime on Extra Rest
In his admittedly brief career, Jaime Garcia has been outstanding when given extra rest between starts. To wit: when throwing on a normal schedule of four days rest, Jaime is an outstanding pitcher. A career ERA of 3.23, OPS against of .680, and 1.32 WHIP? I'll take that any day.
However, when given six or more days of rest, Jaime jumps up even another rung on the ladder into truly elite territory. Starting with 6+ days of rest, Garcia's career ERA is 2.27, with an OPS against of .616 and a WHIP of 1.17. Jaime is a tremendous pitcher -- minus the occasional hiccup -- most any time, but extra rest seems to agree with him in a big way.
Garcia's last start was in game two, on the 20th of October, putting him right at six days of rest. Hooray for simple math! My second grade teacher is so proud of me right now.
On the other hand, you might just think all pitchers probably throw better with extra rest, and so the benefit would be negated. Oddly enough, Colby Lewis's numbers are all slightly worse on extra rest, so at the very least Garcia benefits more from the rest than his counterpart.
Benefit Two: The Return of Carpenter
Pushing games six and, hopefully, seven back a day may make it possible for the Cards to bring back Chris Carpenter to throw part of game seven if necessary. He last started on the 24th, so a potential game seven on the 28th would put him at three days rest. He could probably throw an inning or two on two days rest, as it would be his normal day to throw a bullpen anyway, but pushing it beyond that would seem like a bad idea. Three days, though, and you wouldn't mind giving him multiple innings if need be.
Things didn't go so well the last time (and first time, come to think of it), Carpenter tried to start on three days rest, in the division series, but any game seven would likely involve pretty much anyone and everyone available, so he probably wouldn't be the designated starter. At the very least, it would allow the Cards to potentially tag-team game seven with Carpenter and Jackson, giving them a fairly potent one-two punch of rested starters who could each take a few innings, going as hard and as long as possible, in an effort to close out the series. Speaking of Edwin Jackson, that brings us to our final benefit, which is...
Benefit Three: No Kyle Lohse
I feel a little bad for Kyle Lohse, considering how low the collective opinion of him has dropped. Then again, I don't feel all that bad, because he's being paid eight figures a year to be a fairly lousy pitcher. So, you know, not an awful life.
Either way, the specter of Lohse starting a winner-take-all game has been enough to induce night terrors in the general populace, as well as other, less pleasant infirmities, such as widespread attacks of hysterical diarrhea. Pushing back games six and seven allows the Cards to avoid using Lohse at all. Edwin Jackson will be on full rest, and Carpenter could go on short rest. Not to mention, of course, the parade of relievers which would undoubtedly be employed by Tony La Russa. With all those pitchers available to go, the chances of Kyle Lohse appearing in a situation which could decide the season asymptotically approaches zero. I say asymptotically because, as we've learned in the past, you can never guarantee absolutely something won't happen on a La Russa ballclub, but I feel comfortable saying the chances of seeing Lohse in game seven are very nearly nil.
The one downside here is that the Rangers would have Derek Holland available for game seven as well, which could be very bad for the Cardinals if he pitches anything like he did in game four. However, I also feel confident in saying avoiding Kyle Lohse will be a bigger benefit for the Cards than seeing Holland would be a problem. After all, Derek Holland can be brilliant, but he can also be very inconsistent. Kyle Lohse is a near mortal lock at this point to be a problem.
Texas may have the momentum, and they may have plenty of talent. But whether it's the animals of the countryside or the weather itself, the Cardinals have the power of nature on their side. And that's just not something the Rangers can beat.