St. Louis Cardinals Hoping To Figuring Out The Enigma Of Jake Westbook

By Thom Tsang
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Which Jake Westbrook will the St. Louis Cardinals get?

That’s a question that the team likely finds themselves asking every time they send the veteran groundballer out for another turn. And why not? After getting off to a blazing (if not fairly lucky) start to his 2013 with a 0.98/1.37 ERA/WHIP in April, only to see it derailed by an elbow injury that cost him 33 games, the 35-year-old has been a veritable Jekyll & Hyde act since his return to the redbirds’ rotation.

Fortunately for the Cardinals, it was the good great Westbrook that they got in his latest start on Friday, as he thoroughly dominated the Miami Marlins in one of his best starts of the season, throwing seven innings of one-run, three hit ball en route to a 4-1 victory, his only blemish being a solo home run allowed to Logan Morrison.

The win moves the right-hander to 5-3 on the season, and while that sounds like all roses and sunshine after the 86-pitch outing, the fact is that it gives St. Louis little indication for future success.

Well, that is if you consider that Westbrook gave up a combined 10 earned runs in 10 innings over his last two starts, a stretched that moved his ERA/WHIP to a lopsided season-high 2.95/1.46 on the season. The outing before that two-game stretch? Oh, just another seven-inning gem in which he gave up just one unearned run.

Now, inconsistency comes with the territory for an BABIP-dependent pitcher like Westbrook, whose 3.57 K/9 to 3.44 BB/9 doesn’t exactly leave him a whole lot of room for error as he just doesn’t have many tools with which to coax outs besides his sinker. And given that he’s not in a position where the Cardinals are relying on him to be a stopper, I suppose you could say that kind of unexpected performance ends up being more manageable.

Besides, it’s not as though there wasn’t another good sign from Friday — it was just the second time this season that the 12-year vet successfully made it through a turn without allowing a free pass.

As much of the success he had with St. Louis in 2012 game from the work done to get him to walk fewer batters, that number will certainly play a fairly major role in whether he can continue to outperform his FIP through the rest of 2013.

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