The Cardinals crossed the border into Canada without the substantial services usually provided by Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado. Per usual the All-Star corner infielders played excellent defense, making plays to prevent the Covid-19 from getting through. Just a lame joke, folks. I’m in a slump. Work with me here.
As the two-game series opens tonight in Toronto, just remember this: even with the gentlemanly but firm anti–vaxxers in the lineup, the St. Louis offense has been doing too much shilly-shallying and dithering.
In their last 30 games the Cardinals averaged only only 3.9 runs per contest, struck out 24 percent of the time, and batted .227 with runners in scoring position. They scored three or fewer runs 13 times and went softly with seven shutouts. The Cardinals lost 17 of the 30 games, averaging 2.3 runs in their defeats.
The STL rotation is turning into rubble, the injuries are hitting the roster one after another, and the unexpected vaccine disagreement is the kind of jab that the Cardinals didn’t need.
The other 29 major-league teams – and their fans – don’t feel sorry for the Cardinals. Come to think of it, I doubt that a high percentage of Cardinal fans are weeping in sympathy for the players, manager and front office.
So what can the Cardinals do to ease their sorrow?
This isn’t another diatribe about the easy-rider front office and the inactivity that’s a big factor in the losing baseball (35-36) being played by this team since May 7.
This isn’t about the phantasm named Juan Soto and the increasing number of Cardinal fans that are passing out from exhaustion after concocting so many make-believe trades with the Nationals.
At times like this – and this is a dull answer – the players in a St. Louis uniform have no choice but to rise to the challenge and do their part to get the Cardinals moving forward, and moving up.
As important as they are, this team is more than just Goldschmidt and Arenado.
And it’s time for other players to step up and take ownership in this team.
This series in Toronto is a good place to start.
Other residents of the bird house have the talent to compensate for the temporary absence of Goldy and Arenado – and then go beyond that by honoring their own talent and playing up to their ability.
Tyler O’Neill, that’s you. No more injuries. The Cardinals need your muscle over the final 65 regular-season games.
Dylan Carlson, that’s you. With more consistency and fewer downturns, you’d be something special. This would be a good time to get it done.
Tommy Edman, you’ve been a doubles-shooting catalyst and can do it again.
Nolan Gorman, you’re a rookie with raw talent and too many swings and misses. We knew there would be periods of futility, and reasonable people remain patient. But you would agree with this: you’re 3 for 33 with 15 strikeouts in your last 10 games. And you are better than that.
Brendan Donovan: Yes, reality arrived a while back. Unless we’re talking about Albert Pujols in 2001 and select future Hall of Fame players, no rookie hitter can stay as hot as you did for as long as you did. In your last 27 games you’re batting .196 with a sinking (.315) onbase percentage, a faint .250 slugging percentage, and a bland .565 OPS. But you’re a mature and confident lad, and you have to adjust and find the reset switch.
Andrew Knizner: C’mon dude. Do you want to be the starting catcher next season or what? The hitting is awful, but most upsetting is the below-average work behind the plate. You should be improving through experience – not regressing. The talent is there for a more respectable showing.
I don’t know what to say about Harrison Bader. He’s missed 30 days because of plantar fasciitis, and his injury-rehab assignment led to another breakdown. Last season he missed 68 days with two injuries. Over the last two seasons Bader has played in only 67.5 percent of the team’s games – starting only 64.4% of those games. It’s hard for the Cardinals to have a consistent offense when Bader and O’Neill are missing too many games … again.
Yadier Molina: you’ve done so much for this franchise … and now you have to do it again for one last time. After this weird 2022 you’ve been having, let’s hope you can find it in you to go out on top.
A few pitchers can do better, including Adam Wainwright. There’s no reason why a longtime ace who is so outstanding when pitching at Busch Stadium can be so vulnerable on the road. It’s like he’s two different pitchers. The road Waino isn’t close to being the home Waino.
Dakota Hudson – please. When you get back (soon) it’s time to lock it in and quit being such an enigma. This rotation can’t afford to have you drifting. You aren’t a rookie. You should be so much better.
With Matz on the IL again, the rotation is shorthanded – and not very good. The trends tell the story.
– The St. Louis rotation has a 5.01 ERA this month including a road ERA of 8.04. The awful starting pitching is the primary failing of a team that’s lost 11 of 19 games this month.
– After the lost weekend in Cincinnati, the Cardinals have a 5.04 road ERA this season which ranks 25th among the 30 big-league teams.
– Since June 17, the STL starters have a 4.58 ERA overall, home and road. That’s tied for 21st in the bigs over that time. The eroding starting pitching and mercurial offense have made it very difficult for the Cardinals to stitch things up and staunch the bleeding.
The Cardinals have won only two of 10 series since June 17 – losing six, and splitting two others. That’s what happens when a team has an extreme hit-or-miss offense, and a broken rotation.
You all can wait and hope for John Mozeliak and his assistants to come through before the Aug. 2 trade deadline and provide impact additions to make this team more viable and upbeat … but you can’t count on it.
You have to pick this team up on your own. And that’s with Arenado and Goldy. Or without Arenado and Goldy when they aren’t there. And though their absence from Toronto is annoying, they will be in the lineup about 95 percent of the time from here on out. But even then, they can’t carry all of you, all of the time.
The rest of you can do a lot more. The Cardinals are entering an urgent time of their season.
Thanks for reading …
Bernie invites you to listen to his opinionated sports-talk show on 590-AM The Fan, KFNS. It airs Monday through Thursday from 3-6 p.m. and Friday from 4-6 p.m. You can listen by streaming online or by downloading the show podcast at 590thefan.com or the 590 app which is available in your preferred app store.
“Seeing Red,” my weekly podcast on the Cardinals with Will Leitch, is available on multiple platforms including Apple and Spotify. Please subscribe.
Follow Bernie on Twitter @miklasz
Please email your “Ask Bernie” questions to BernScoops@gmail.com
All stats used here were sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, Stathead, Bill James Online, Fielding Bible, Baseball Savant, Brooks Baseball Net and Spotrac unless otherwise noted.
For the last 35 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.
While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.
Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.