Should The Aces Sit Tonight With Rain on the Way in St. Louis?

I’m going to go with Yes.

As the title of this post may have suggested, it looks like it’s going to rain tonight in St. Louis. Presently, there hasn’t been any announcement that the game is going to be completely canned, and they may just make a go of it.* If that is indeed the case, I believe there is a compelling argument to be made for both managers to have their schedule starters take a seat. In these very playoffs, we’ve already seen the awkwardness that can result from rain delays, and the toll is can take on a starting pitcher. On Saturday, both Justin Verlander and C.J. Wilson fell victim to these circumstances. Two rain delays totaling 1 hour and 50 minutes interrupted the fifth inning, changing the entire complexion of the game. Verlander, battling the rain, his control, his own manager, and the home-plate umpire, wasn’t allowed to throw another pitch, while Texas fans probably wish Wilson hadn’t. Wilson took the mound after the initial rain delay and promptly got hit hard for a double, he then walked two consecutive batters, and allowed a run to score on a wild pitch. Not the most inspired performance, and given the circumstances, it’s hard to blame him. His manager (or whichever coach is actually in charge of this kind of thing) probably should have yanked him from the game prior to any of those mistakes, but you know, he (they) didn’t. Needless to say, the rain kind of pulled focus here and screwed this whole thing up for everybody.

*Of course, at any moment between now and game time they could decide to just say “F it” and call the game, or it could not rain at all tonight, rendering this post completely moot. But I’m a professional (not really), and I won’t let those possibilities stop me.

With a similar debacle threatening to happen tonight, Tony La Russa and Ron Roenicke may be best served to have Chris Carpenter and Yovani Gallardo ride pine. At least to start the game. The weather should dictate these decisions more than anything, and it’s probably a hard sell expecting these guys to play amateur meteorologist for the evening, but as my old pappy always used to say, “Fortune favors the bold.”*

*No he didn’t.

La Russa could run out Kyle Loshe to start the game. Loshe isn’t Carpenter, and he has the stink on him of a jobber with a misleading ERA, but his peripherals (3.67 FIP, 4.04 xFIP) aren’t nearly as bad as they feel like they should be. It’s also possible that I’m alone in having a lesser perception of Loshe—maybe it’s the facial hair. For an added super-small-sample-and-probably-meaningless-bonus, Loshe has fared quite well against Milwaukee in three starts this season (2.37 ERA, you guys!), they probably don’t care for his facial hair either.

Ron Roenicke has a pretty interesting option himself, in the form of Chris Narveson. At first glance, Narveson has the seeming misfortune of being kind of left-handed. Not only does this make him a freak of nature, it would also allow St. Louis to run out a pretty capable lineup of (mostly) right-handed bats. However, if one were to take a look at Narvesons’ splits this season—something I’m perfectly capable of doing—one would notice that the south-paw has posted numbers against right-handed batters (3.92 FIP, 4.00 xFIP) that are markedly better than those against left-handed batters (4.77 FIP, 4.45 xFIP). Part of this may be a sample-size issue (so annoying), considering he’s only pitched 26 innings vs. lefties to 135 against righties, but taking into account the .301 BABIP Narveson is sporting vs. right-handers, his not-too-shabby peripherals have a good chance of holding up.

In the case of rain, put me down for starting Loshe and Narveson. Both pitchers give their teams a quite decent chance of being successful, and there’s no rule saying Carpenter and Gallardo can’t prepare to enter the game in long-relief. Both could be utilized following an early rain delay, or struggles by their replacements under clear skies. If the game turns into a total cluster-fuck with multiple breaks in action, or gets completely postponed, then both pitchers would be available when the contest resumes. This game could be decided by whichever manager makes best use of his starter by optimizing innings around rain delays—I hope one or both of them have the balls to do so.

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