Five topics from columnist Ben Frederickson that St. Louis sports fans should be discussing:
1. Flaherty is building his case
The answer is yes.
Yes, Jack Flaherty has pitched his way into the Cy Young conversation.
The best streak of starting pitching by a Cardinal since Bob Gibson wore the birds on the bat has the 23-year-old Flaherty racing up the ranks of potential award recipients.
Here’s what Flaherty has done since the All-Star break, and where it compares to other National League starters. (I've updated the rankings here, because I initially had them listed as starters league-wide. This new ranking sorts out American League starters who are competing for their own Cy Young.)
ERA: 0.76 (1st)
Opponent Average: .151 (1st)
Opponent OPS: .449 (1st)
Strikeouts: 89 (1st)
WHIP: 0.76 (1st)
Innings: 71.1 (1st)
This is where critics will say that the Cy Young Award is about the entire season, not just the second half. Fair enough. Check out Flaherty’s season-long numbers, and how they stack up against other National League starters.
ERA: 2.99 (7th)
Opponent Average: .203 (2nd)
Opponent OPS: .626 (tied for 5th)
Strikeouts: 196 (8th)
WHIP: 1.03 (4th)
Innings: 168.1 (10th)
The numbers don’t lie. Flaherty isn't just in the mix. He's emerging from it, sharpening his season-long numbers as he surges.
2. DeRosa tips cap to Duncan
Longtime major leaguer and current MLB Network host Mark DeRosa’s short stint with the Cardinals was limited to 68 games in 2009.
That was long enough to gain an appreciation for Chris Duncan, who died Friday after a courageous fight with brain cancer.
“This guy was infectious, man,” DeRosa said Monday morning on MLB Central. “This was a special human being . . . He just lit up a room. In 2009, he always had a smile on his face. He always had the right thing to say to the guys. He was all about team unity, and he’s going to be missed . . . “Just a good guy, man. Put the team above himself. Every day.”
3. What’s next for TLR?
The firing of Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is the talk of baseball today. Here’s a follow-up: What does this news mean for Tony La Russa? The former Cardinals manager and Hall of Famer is a vice president and special assistant to the president of baseball operations in Boston. That means his boss just got let go. Could La Russa be on the move? A section of Dan Shaughnessy’s column on the shakeup in Boston makes you wonder. He writes:
The Sox won every year until this year. And each season, Dombrowski became more isolated inside the walls of Fenway. He holed up with his buddies (senior vice president) Frank Wren and Tony La Russa. He insisted that (president and CEO) Sam Kennedy have zero input on all baseball decisions and never clicked with the “new” CEO. Dombrowski was not particularly close to the people in baseball ops. Or (chairman) Tom Werner. In the end, Dombrowski did not have much support from (manager) Alex Cora.
4. SEC East wide open after UGA
The Missouri football team’s thumping of West Virginia showed us two things. First, West Virginia is as bad as we thought. Second, it was not insane to have decent expectations of the Tigers. Where was that kind of play in week one at Wyoming? Who knows. But an understanding of MU's division and a look ahead shows how things still line up for the Tigers to climb as high as second behind Georgia in the SEC East.
South Carolina (1-1) lost to a rebuilding North Carolina team in week one, and faces powerhouse Alabama before coming to Mizzou. Oh, and starting quarterback Jake Bentley is out for the rest of the season due to a left foot surgery.
Vanderbilt (0-2) got thumped by Purdue after getting thumped by Georgia.
Kentucky (2-0) starting quarterback Terry Wilson is out for the season after he left Saturday’s win against Eastern Michigan with a left knee injury.
Florida (2-0) looked shaky in its season-opening win against a Miami team that turned around and lost to the same rebuilding North Carolina team that beat South Carolina.
Tennessee (0-2) is without a win in its first two games since 1988. After its double-overtime loss to BYU, it’s become fair to wonder if Vols coach Jeremy Pruitt will be on the sideline when Tennessee comes to CoMo.
Georgia (2-0) has outscored Vanderbilt and Murray State by a combined point total of 93-23. It’s the Dawgs’ division to lose, and it’s hard to imagine them losing control of it. The jostling for second-best is going to be something.
5. Love takes close look at Mizzou
There was another black-and-gold benefit to Mizzou winning big Saturday. Coveted basketball prospect Caleb Love was in attendance. The Christian Brothers College guard is the top-ranked in-state basketball player in the 2020 class. Tigers coach Cuonzo Martin and his staff have made Love a recruiting priority. That Love made his weekend trip to Mizzou one of his official visits should be encouraging for the Tigers. The close proximity to campus could have led Love to stick with unofficial visits to Mizzou. Instead, by giving Mizzou one of his allowed official visits, the trip could be a 48-hour all-expenses-paid whirlwind of a visit for Love and a family member. That trip included a sideline meeting with Mizzou coach Barry Odom, and a football win. Love has narrowed his list of college options to the following programs: Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Louisville, North Carolina and Mizzou.