NOTES ON MY SCORECARD

1) The Milwaukee Brewers got back on track by beating the Tampa Bay Rays on consecutive days. The Crew, feeling better about themselves, are off on Thursday. They’re looking forward to the three-game series against the Cardinals that opens Friday night at Busch Stadium.

The Brewers had lost six of seven games before rallying to take two from the Rays. Their team morale appears to be rising after a downer reaction to the trade that sent closer Josh Hader to San Diego.

“It shows we have fight in us,” first baseman Rowdy Tellez said. “It was a stretch there where we weren’t playing too well. I think we got a little comfortable, and the Cardinals just really put the pressure on us. We need to step it up. These two wins against another team that’s competing for a position in the playoffs was big for us.”

Added shortstop Willy Adames, who had the game-winning RBI single to defeat the Rays in 10 innings Wednesday: “Obviously we are going to play some really good teams this last month and a half and we know we have to be better. That’s what we’re trying to do now. We’re going to go to St. Louis and try to play at our highest level and try to win the series.”

As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel noted, “The Brewers head to St. Louis with a head of steam that mitigates the team’s six losses in the previous seven games.”

The Cardinals will play 10 of their next 13 games against the Dodgers (seven times) and Cardinals (three.)

First-place St. Louis led the Brewers by a game in the NL Central before the start of  Thursday’s game. The Cardinals will have a chance to increase their lead over the Brewers … or the Cards could lose ground and get pushed into second place.

2) I really like manager Oli Marmol’s decision to put Lars Nootbaar at the top of the lineup. The Cardinals have a pitiful .291 onbase percentage from the No. 1 spot in the lineup this season, and Nootbaar has an overall OBP of .427 since July 9. Nootbaar has good speed, and a smart approach at the plate. Since July 9 Noot’s walk rate – 14.7 percent – is the same as his strikeout rate. And that’s outstanding

3) I liked what Nolan Arenado said after the Cardinals rebounded from a lethargic loss to the Rockies in the series opener to win 9-5 the next day: “We got smacked in the face a little bit yesterday. It was important for us to come out with a little hunger, a little energy, and we did that today.” As I wrote Wednesday afternoon, I didn’t think the Cardinals were ready to play on Tuesday … and they weren’t. But they came out with an aggressive and focused mindset Wednesday and jumped the Rockies for a 5-0 lead in the top of the first.

4) I’m writing this before the start of Thursday’s afternoon series finale in Denver, but if Dakota Hudson lollygags through his start, the Cardinals should turn to Jake Woodford to take Dak’s spot in the rotation. Id Hudson pitches well, and with improved pacing, he’ll likely stay in the rotation.

5) Excellent start by Jose Quintana, who went six sharp innings to give up only two runs in the hitter-happy Coors Field on Wednesday. In two starts as a Cardinal, Quintana has a surprisingly robust strikeout rate of 28.3 percent. He’s struck out 13 and walked only four, and has a 2.25 ERA. In their first three starts as Cardinals, Quintana and fellow lefty Jose Quintana have combined to allow only three earned runs in 17 innings for a 1.58 ERA. And in their three combined starts, they’ve allowed only 15 of 53 batters faced to reach base (just 28%.) The lefties also allowed only two extra-base hits, total, in the three starts. Well done, gents!

6) The Cardinals are pounding left-handed pitchers this season. Going into Thursday’s game, St. Louis ranked 3rd in MLB with a .271 average against lefties and were 1st in onbase percentage (.347), 2nd in OPS (.793) and 3rd in slugging (.445.) In park–and-league adjusted runs created (wRC+) only the Yankees have performed better than the Cardinals against LHP this season. And the Yankees are only one percent better than the Cardinals vs. lefties.

7) In his first 10 games since being summoned from Triple A Memphis, Paul DeJong has been amazing. In 41 plate appearances he batted .333 with a .439 OBP, .849 slug and 1.288 OPS. Going into Thursday’s contest in Denver, DeJong was tied for 2nd in the majors in homers (4) and tied for 2nd in RBI (13) since July 30. It’s hysterical to go online and see the loony DeJong haters having spasms over Paulie’s success. Try to be happy, grumpy peoples. DeJong never did anything to you. And If DeJong is doing well, it benefits the Cardinals. This is a good thing, right? I mean, you do like the Cardinals, right? You want them to win? Just wondering.

8) The Cardinals were too late in designating lefty reliever T.J. McFarland for assignment, but at least it’s over now, and McFarland will no longer occupy a roster spot on the big club. The free-agent signings of relievers McFarland, Nick Wittgren, Drew VerHagen and Aaron Brooks was an across-the-board failure.

9) I’ve been privileged during my lifetime to watch three exceptional third basemen: Brooks Robinson, Scott Rolen and Nolan Arenado. There’s also Mike Schmidt, and as a young dude I would drive 95 miles to Philadelphia just to see Schmidt play. As a kid in Baltimore, Brooks was my idol and I must have been in the ballpark for around 200, 250 of his games through the years … and watched hundreds more on TV. And I later became friends with Brooksie after I entered the newspaper business. But I have to say that, if pressed, I’d rank Arenado over Robinson. I would feel just a little guilty for that – but Brooks himself has said that Arenado is the best third basemen he’s seen. That’s a helluva compliment.

Thanks for reading …

–Bernie

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.

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All stats used here were sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, Stathead, Bill James Online, Fielding Bible, Baseball Savant, Brooks Baseball Net and Spotrac.

 

 

 

 

Bernie Miklasz
Bernie Miklasz

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.