When did Cardinals pitchers last have such great back-to-back starts?



The Cardinals bullpen in 2018 has been pretty bad. We don't want to name names, but as a collective group they rank in the bottom third of the NL in fWAR, ERA, FIP, xFIP, and a lot of other things. Luckily for all involved, they got a much needed reprieve the last two games and were only needed to get four outs. And during that time, one of their relievers threw a ball over 105 mph. So while short on WAR, they are not a unit bereft of entertainment.


The bullpen owes their recent vacation to starters Jack Flaherty and Miles Mikolas. On Sunday, Flaherty pitched 7 2/3 innings and tied the club record for most strikeouts in a game (13) since 1972. Not to be outdone, Mikolas took the mound last night and threw a complete game shutout, while striking out nine on just 109 pitches. I probably don't need to tell you that the Cardinals also won both games.


In total, Flaherty and Mikolas combined for a Game Score (Baseball Reference model) of 170, with 22 strikeouts in 16 2/3 innings pitched. Here's the last time a pair of Cardinals pitchers exceeded those numbers in back-to-back starts.


Game Score

On May 10 and May 11, 2013, Shelby Miller and Adam Wainwright combined for a game score of 187. Miller gets a bulk of the credit for a game that probably doesn't need much in the way of an introduction.


He took the mound on May 10th against the Rockies and gave up a weak single to Eric Young to lead off the game. Miller then retired 27 straight while striking out 13. His Game Score of 98 was the highest recorded by a Cardinal in 24 years and is tied for eighth in franchise history.


The very next night Wainwright pitched a complete game shutout. And that wasn't even Wainwright's best start of the season. Not even close. About a month earlier, he pitched another complete game shutout, while striking out 12 and not allowing a single walk. Raise your cup to 2013 Adam Wainwright.


Strikeouts

To find two Cardinals starters who exceeded Flaherty and Mikolas's 22 strikeouts, you have to go back pretty far. Remember when I said that Flaherty's 13 strikeouts tied for the most by a Cardinal since 1972? Well, that refers to August 30, 1972, when Bob Gibson (of course) struck out 14 helpless Giants. He homered, too. (I say "helpless" although the Giants actually won the game.)


And then, the very next game on September 1, 1972, Cardinals pitcher Rick Wise out-pitched Don Sutton and struck out ten Dodgers. The Cardinals managed to win this one 5-1.


Innings Pitched

The answer here was already sort of given away, but the combined 16 2/3 innings pitched from Flaherty and Mikolas hadn't been exceeded by a duo of Cardinals hurlers in back-to-back games since Miller and Wainwright threw those back-to-back complete game shutouts in May of 2013.


That's the information, people. And I am absolutely in favor of Luke Weaver dominating the Royals in a couple of hours so I have to do this all over again tomorrow while expanding the Baseball Reference search to three straight games.