|That's a really, really young Jake Westbrook right there. |
Hey, you know who's been really good lately -- actually, he's been pretty damned good for most of the season -- and I haven't given nearly enough credit to? Jake Westbrook
, that's who.
The reason I haven't given him much credit is simple: I still kind of don't believe in him. I know, I know; it's nearly September. He's done more than enough this season to convince me of his merits. But last year, oy. Last year still weights heavy on my mind. And pitchers with shaky peripherals -- specifically strikeout rates in the below six range -- always put me on edge.
Actually, there's another reason I haven't bucked up and given Westy the credit he so richly deserves for this outstanding season he's currently enjoying. I just can't stand watching the guy pitch. I have no idea why. He's the Jeff Suppan of 2012, a pitcher who even when he's good just bugs me to watch. (Kyle Lohse has been this guy in the past, just for the record.) I think it's something about the way Westbrook periodically just loses the strike zone, throwing these funny frisbee sinkers that end up a foot outside to a lefty, seemingly with no warning whatsoever.
All that being said, the guy has been really good lately. And he's starting today, in fact. And just received a new contract extension, come to think of it.
Let's talk about all that stuff, shall we?
First, today's game: the Cardinals need Westbrook to come out and be good again. They're facing the moribund Astros, so it isn't as if he'll be facing down a high-powered offense, but that hasn't stopped plenty of other frustrating afternoons from happening, now has it?
Pitching for Houston will be 24 year old Dallas Keuchel. If you aren't aware of why this is bad news for the Cards, let me enlighten you: Dallas Keuchel throws with his left hand. Also, the Cardinals have never seen him before. Stick those two factors together, and you have a recipe for a very long, very painful afternoon for the Redbird hitters. So, Jake Westbrook needs to be good and limit the Astros to very little offense. Or no offense, actually. That would be better.
Did you hear that, Jake? I want a shutout. Okay? No big deal, right?