BIRD BYTES

Let’s say it again: Pitching wins. The Cardinals are reminding us of this traditional baseball reality since diving in on May 12 to begin the process of resuscitating their season.

During their 30-17 stretch that began on Mother’s Day up yonder in Wisconsin, the Cardinals are tied for the fifth-best ERA overall in the show at 3.54.

Through all of the winning since the 12th of May, the starting rotation has the 10th best ERA (3.88) in the majors and is tied for ninth with 20 quality starts.

The heart of the team – the bullpen – ranks seventh overall with a 3.07 ERA over the last 47 games. Moreover, St. Louis relievers are No. 3 in Win Probability Added among major-league bullpens as the Redbirds have made way out of the cavern in the NL Central.

Among other benefits, the St. Louis pitching has enabled this team to win games even when the offense hibernates. That isn’t an easy thing to do.

The Cardinals are 6-10 when scoring three runs or fewer in a game while rolling happily through this 30-17. That may not look all that hot, but their winning percentage (.375) when scoring three runs or less since is the best in the majors since May 12. Pitching wins games.

Since May 12 the Cards have a 13-14 record when scoring four runs or fewer; that .481 winning percentage is No. 1 in the majors over that time.

Yes. It is possible to win more games than you should with a pokey offense. And make no mistake, this is a pokey offense. But your team can still find a way to the winning circle as long as the pitchers carry the hitters there.

Since June 12 the Cardinals have won nine times when scoring four runs or fewer in those games. They’ve averaged 3.0 runs in the nine wins … and in the nine victories St. Louis pitching yielded only 1.3 runs per game. Fabulous work by the pitchers.

Run prevention is a huge component in a team’s success.

Same as it ever was.

BIRD BYTES

+ After winning two of three at Pittsburgh, the second-place Cardinals left town with a 45-41 record (.523) and were six games behind the first-place Brewers.

+ The Cardinals have the top record in the National League at 30-17 (.638). That’s the third-best winning percentage in the bigs since May 12.

+ El Birdos are 35-27 since April 24 and have the NL’s fourth-best record behind division leaders Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Los Angeles. Milwaukee is only one game better than St. Louis since April 24.

+ The Cardinals are 5-1-1 in their last seven series. Paging back to May 13 St. Louis has won 10 series, lost three and split two.

+ Only the Cubs (33), Pirates (29) and Brewers (29) have played more games decided by one run than St. Louis (28) this season. The A’s have also played in 28 one-run games.

+ STL’s 16-12 record in one-run games is good for a .571 winning percentage. None of the other teams that have played as many one-run games (at least 28) are close to the Cardinals in winning percentage in those tight contests. The Brewers (15-14, .517) and Pirates (15-14, .517) are next.

+ The Cardinals are 37-25 (.597) this season in games decided by two runs or less. In fact, 72 percent of STL’s games this season have been determined by a margin of two runs or less. Stress. Lots and lots of stress. But when in danger, the Cardinals have been able to rely on their arms for repeated rescues when in

+ The high percentage of close games makes the St. Louis bullpen even more critical to the team’s fate. This ‘pen gets tired, but manager Oli Marmol has done a fantastic job of spreading out the work and cultivating new sources of relief to fill the void when their finest leverage relievers are unavailable to go. Of course I’m referring to closer Ryan Helsley and set-up relievers Andrew Kittredge, and Ryan Fernandez.

+ This isn’t just about the big three of Helsley, Kittredge and Romero. They’ve had some turbulent outings during the team’s 30-17 run since May 12. The Cardinals have won 13 games by one run during this stretch, and the other relievers have come forward to make valuable contributions.

+ In the team’s last 13 one-run victories, Fernandez, John King, Matthew Liberatore, Chris Roycroft, Kyle Leahy and Adam Kloffenstein have combined to allow two earned runs in 22 and ⅔ innings for an 0.79 ERA. Outstanding. I’m wondering if any silly people are still screeching about how Marmol doesn’t know how to run a bullpen. Hey, it’s a free country. (I think.) Everyone has the right to be wrong.

+ Fernandez has the best high-leverage ERA (2.45) by a member of the bullpen crew in 2024. And he’s third with a 2.08 ERA in medium-leverage spots.

+ Thank you, Chaim Bloom.

+ Paul Goldschmidt has been called out on strikes 26 times in 83 games this season, tied for 11th most in the majors. During his 2022 MVP season Goldy was called out on strikes only 33 times in 151 games.

+ Only four major-league teams have watched more called strikes (2,264) than the Cardinals this season. The Birds have been called out on strikes 176 times, which ranks right around the middle of the pack of 30 teams.

+ Masyn Winn is reheating. In his last four games the vivacious Winn is 8 for 17 (.471) with two walks, two doubles and two RBIs.

+ Winn leads all MLB shortstops with 10 defensive runs saved and is No. 1 in runs saved above average via double plays. Special.

+ The Cardinals are 4-2 against the Pirates this season despite going 13 for 56 (.232) with a 38 percent strikeout when batting with runners in scoring position.

+ Some tough times at the plate in Pittsburgh. During the three-game series Nolan Arenado, Michael Siani, Matt Carpenter and Jose Fermin went a combined 2 for 29 and were 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position.

+ I’m sorry to say, but Giovanny Gallegos appears to be out of pitching ammo. I respect this man a lot, but we have to be straightforward about where he is. Gio has been fragile since returning from a shoulder impingement. He has a 9.75 ERA this season. Since the beginning of May 2023, Gallegos has a 6.05 ERA and has been whacked for a .576 slugging percentage and 2.6 home runs per nine innings.

+ Gallegos is missing the stinger on his four-seam fastball , and that’s difficult to overcome. This season his four-seam velo is down to 92.2 mph, and opponents have hit the thing like tee shots on one of the Par 5 holes at Norwood Hills. In the 28 at-bats that have ended with Gallegos using the four-seamer this year, hitters have nailed it for a .429 average, five (!) home runs and a 1.190 slugging percentage.

Thanks for reading …

–Bernie

A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Bernie has provided informed opinions and perspective on St. Louis sports through his columns, radio shows and podcasts since 1985.

Please follow Bernie on Threads @miklaszb

Stats used in my baseball columns are sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, StatHead, Baseball Savant, Baseball Prospectus, Brooks Baseball Net, and Sports Info Solutions unless otherwise noted.

Bernie Miklasz

Bernie Miklasz

For the last 36 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. A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, 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.