clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

What to watch for in Monday night’s Cardinals-Braves game

The devil magic and Dakota Hudson; the sharp decline of Orlando Arcia

St. Louis Cardinals vs Atlanta Braves. 2019 National League Division Series Set Number: X162970 TK1

The Braves open up a big series with the Cardinals on Monday night, though given the current state of the league, it’s not too clear what “big” means at this point. With six playoff spots in each league, there’s less of a scramble for the postseason and more of a, “Well, half the league is competitive and the rest of the teams aren’t, so which two teams in each league will miss out?” Right now, neither the Braves nor the Cardinals actually look like they’re going to be one of the two teams that misses the playoffs, so some of the tension is erased by default.

In any case, here are some interesting things to look for as the Braves and Cardinals square off tonight.

The Devil (Magic) and Dakota Hudson (and also just the Cardinals in general)

Through Dakota Hudson’s first 250ish career innings, he did a great job not being around for runs on the board (75 ERA-), but had underwhelming peripherals (109 FIP-, 103 xFIP-). The answer was a combination of strand rate and ye olde BABIP, mostly because that version of Hudson didn’t really suppress homers, either on a HR/9 or HR/FB basis.

It seems like 2022, then, should have completely torched Hudson’s viability, since his peripherals are now horrid: he comes into this game with a paltry 13.3 percent strikeout rate, to go with a 10.8 walk rate. The 2.4 percent K%-BB% is the worst any pitcher has achieved in 80 innings since 2018. (2018 was the year of Tyler Chatwood’s -0.4 fWAR in over 100 innings with way more walks than strikeouts.) Yet, one thing that’s saved Hudson’s bacon has been a now-low homer rate: he’s allowed just six in 80 innings, compared to five in under 40 innings in 2019, and 22 in under 175 innings in 2018.

Overall, the Braves should expect this sort of thing to be out in full force during this series. As mentioned, the Cardinals have the highest wOBA-xwOBA gap for any team not based at Coors Field, which plays hinky with xwOBA anyway. Cardinals pitchers are top-five in MLB in “how much BABIP explains the ERA-FIP gap,” and are first overall in “how much strand translates into lowering ERA.” It seems like you could point to their defense as a possible reason for these things, but the Redbirds have an average-y defense (ninth in OAA, 11th in runs prevented via OAA). Positioning could be the next thing to point to, but they’re basically average in estimated success rate, It’s basically just devil magic, and Hudson is a prime beneficiary.

O-rlando, ‘rlando, wherefore art thou, ‘rlando?

We knew this would happen, but it’s been sad nonetheless.

  • Orlando Arcia, before being forced into starting every day given Ozzie Albies’ injury: 54 PAs, .356 wOBA, .412 xwOBA
  • Orlando Arcia, since being forced into starting: 67 PAs, .288 wOBA, .297 xwOBA

It was fun while it lasted, but that time is apparently over. The reasons are myriad — declining exit velocity and too many grounders among them — but the Braves are essentially no longer getting anything useful out of second base. There’s no real reason to not give Arcia a bit more to see whether he can just wheel himself back to where he was earlier; both are small sample stretches, after all. In aggregate, he’s been a bench guy, which is what he is — but if Albies isn’t going to be returning, I figure Arcia gets about 80 PAs, i.e., right up to the end of the Trade Deadline, and then the Braves will determine whether to make a move or not.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Battery Power Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Atlanta Braves news from Battery Power