After yet another day off, the Cardinals are back in The Lou for six games against the White Sox and Mets. The Redbirds vacate for a seven-game road trip after that, lodging in Milwaukee for four games, then chartering to Anaheim for three.

The Cardinals can help themselves get well in the standings by playing better baseball – winning baseball – at home. A strong homestand would give the team at least a little momentum and added confidence as they make their way to Wisconsin, then to the ballpark near Disneyland.

After the next road voyage the Cardinals will settle in for nine straight games at Busch Stadium: three against the Red Sox, three against the Orioles, and three against the Cubs.

That will be a challenge, but there’s no crying about baseball schedules. Enough already. All 30 teams play each other. All 30 teams have demanding sequences on the schedule. All 30 teams have soft-serve portions on the schedule. Play 162. Count up the wins. Count up the losses. Eliminate excuses.

If the home field is still their haven, the Cardinals should be fired up; 15 of their next 22 will be played at Busch. Not that this will make it easy. Based on current records, five of the next six visitors to Busch Stadium are above .500.

Including the upcoming road trip, five of STL’s next seven opponents had winning records through Thursday. And four of the seven had winning percentages ranging from .563 to .645. We’ll know a lot more about this team’s quality or mediocrity by the time that nine-game road trip is completed on May 26.

Let’s return to the moment at hand. The Cardinals have an instant opportunity to collect two or three wins against the 6-25 White Sox. But please: no haughtiness. The Cardinals have their own problems.

It’s time for the 14-17 Cardinals to make their move. Will they fly or remain grounded? Will they start winning more at Busch Stadium – or continue to let the customers down? Since the start of 2023 the Cardinals rank 27th among the 30 MLB teams in home winning percentage, and that’s dismaying.

The Cardinals should get center fielder center Dylan Carlson back during this homestand. As far as switch-hitting center fielders go, Carlson is hardly Willie McGee circa 1985, but he can help. In the first 31 games the offense from the center-field spot was a blank spot.

Before the season, the STL media went on and on and on and on about the tough early schedule. It was overstated then. It’s still overstated now.

The Cardinals are one of five teams that have played only 12 home games, fewest in the majors. The Cards are one of four teams that are tied for third in MLB with 19 road games so far.

The Cardinals and Cubs are each 9-10 on the road. The other two teams, Cleveland (12-9) and Washington (11-8) have winning records away from home.

I’m not sure what the big deal is. A team that does not win enough at home or play well enough at home can’t fuss about a road-heavy slate.

The Cardinals didn’t have a homefield edge last season, going a grim 35-46 (.432). It’s early, but the Cardinals are trending the wrong way again with losing record at home in the early days of the 2024 campaign.

Using simple winning percentage the ‘24 Cardinals have done better on the road (.473) than at Busch Stadium (.417.) Their run differential at home is minus 1.58 runs per game. Their run differential on the road is minus 0.58 runs per game. Translation: this team has been more successful, and competitive, on the road.

Are we supposed to have empathy for the Cardinals, or something like that? Good grief. Not when the Cardinals are just as vulnerable at home as they are away from home.

The Cardinals have played six series away from Busch Stadium this season. They have won three, lost three, and their overall 9-10 road record should be better.

To recap:

* With a chance to split the opening series at Dodger Stadium, the Cardinals had a lead in the fourth game and let it slip away to go 1-3 against the Dodgers.

* With a chance to win a road series at Arizona and Detroit, the Cardinals lost the third game both times. So instead of taking two out of three games at both places, they lost two out of three.

* The Cardinals had an opportunity to pull off three-game sweeps at San Diego, Oakland and the NY Mets but failed to win the third game each time. The Cards still won all three road series but left victories on the table.

* The Cards have gone 0-6 in the final game in all six road series. And they scored an average of two runs in the six losses. How much different would their overall record look had the Cardinals finished stronger in all six road tests?

The root cause was bad offense. And weak offense was the defining flaw for the Cardinals during the opening month. The game location wasn’t the issue. The predominant factor was a St. Louis lineup that ranks last in the NL in runs per game (3.52), home runs (21) and batting average (.202) with runners in scoring position.

It is an offense that ranks among the bottom three in the 15-team NL in batting average, onbase percentage, slugging, OPS, extra base hits and stolen bases. It is an offense that has scored three or fewer runs in a game 19 times this season, and in the majors only the White Sox (20) have done that more often.

This isn’t about the schedule. When a team does not score enough runs – home or away – the record will reflect the shortfall. Indeed, the Cardinals are 5-14 when scoring three or fewer runs this year.

Answer me this, and I know the fellers have played only 19 percent of their schedule. The early stuff can be misleading. The early stuff can normalize and improve. But there are times — 2023? — when the early stuff turns into lasting stuff.

Anyway …

If the Cardinals were at such a disadvantage by playing so many road games, then why have they averaged more runs on the road (3.63) than at home (3.33)?

Why is their road ERA (3.83) better than their home ERA (4.34)?

Why is the run differential worse at home than it is on the road?

When scoring three runs or less in a game, why do the Cardinals have a better winning percentage on the road (.373) compared to the .250 win percentage at home?

Why did the Cardinals have their worst performance of the season in getting swept by the Brewers in a three-game series at Busch Stadium?

According to the ESPN power-index metrics the Cardinals rank 13th among the 30 teams in strength of schedule. Their sked has been slightly more difficult than average, but it’s nothing drastic. And eight teams that have faced harder schedules than St. Louis have winning records: Brewers, Reds, Guardians, Twins, Red Sox, Mets, Orioles and Mariners.

Beginning with the six-game homestand that commences Friday night, the Cardinals will play 52.7 percent of their remaining games at home – and 47.3% on the road. So if being at home is so beneficial, the Cardinals will do something with it. Right?

And the Redbirds are overdue, given their sad .430 home winning percentage over the last two seasons.

Don’t fret the schedule.

Fret the scoreboard.

Thanks for reading …

–Bernie

A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Bernie hosts an opinionated and analytical sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS. It airs 3-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 4-6 p.m. Friday. Stream it live or access the show podcast on 590thefan.com or through the 590 The Fan St. Louis app.

Please follow Bernie on Twitter @miklasz and on Threads @miklaszb

For weekly Cards talk, listen to the “Seeing Red” podcast with Will Leitch and Miklasz via 590thefan.com or through your preferred podcast platform. Follow @seeingredpod on Twitter for a direct link.

Stats used in my baseball columns are sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, StatHead, Baseball Savant, Baseball Prospectus, Sports Info Solutions, Spotrac and Cot’s Contracts 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.