Welcome to the Redbird Review 

The Cardinals did a nice job Thursday night, wiping out a 4-1 deficit to upend the Brewers with a 8-4 consolation victory. The Cards lost the series but avoided a sweep; the Crew could not Swiffer them away. So … hooray for the home team? 

The Cardinals bullpen wasn’t fooling around, blanking the blankety-blank Brewers over the final 4 and ⅔ innings. Tyler O’Neill and Lars Nootbaar homered and chased Milwaukee starter Brandon Woodruff from the domicile. There were big hits from Andrew Knizner and Paul Goldschmidt. A good time was had by all — well, except for Jon Lester. 

This was a timely triumph for the Cardinals, who made progress in the NL’s No. 2 wild-card standings. The Cards gained a half-game on the idle Padres, kept pace with the Reds, and picked up a game on the Phillies and Mets. 

The Padres lead the Reds by 1 game.

And the Padres lead the Cardinals by 3 and ½, the Phillies by 5, and the Mets by 6.

With the focus on the second wild card, the Cardinals are trending well. Yes, Mike Shildt’s team  lost two of three to the Brewers. Predictably so, I might add. As I’ve been writing for weeks on end, the boys have an abysmal record against winning teams in 2021, and we’ll update the numbers on that in a few minutes. 

But if we do it the media cheer squad way and look at the Cardinals without parsing the record, they’ve won nine of their last 12 and are 21-14 since July 5. I bring this up for a reason: others in this wild-card claiming race are going sideways. 

San Diego (67-56) has lost seven of its last eight. And since the beginning of July the Padres have the NL’s poorest rotation ERA (6.14) and are 18-23. After an off day the Padres resume play Friday night, opening a six-game homestay against the Phillies and Dodgers. 

The Phillies (61-60) just got swept in a three-game series at Arizona (!!!) and have lost four in a row and seven of their last nine. 

The Mets lost to LA at Dodger Stadium Thursday night and the defeat pushed them below .500 (60-61.) The Metros are 1-6 in the last seven and have 15 of their last 21. During this 21-game slide the Mets are averaging 3.4 runs per game and have a rotation ERA of 5.14. 

The streaky, flaky Reds (66-57) are 5-6 in their last 11 games, just dropped a series to the Cubs. Mike Moustakas is 4 for 32 (.125) since returning from a lengthy convalescence on the IL, and slugger Jesse Winker is on the IL with a lower-back strain. The Cincinnati bullpen has gotten better — but remains untrustworthy. 

The Cardinals will have a chance to land direct hits on the Reds, Padres and Mets; they’ll play those teams 12 times between now and the end of the schedule. 

Here’s the average record of remaining opponents for each No. 2 wild-card contender: 

Padres:  68-52, .567

Cards:    62-60. .508

Mets:      61-59, .508

Reds:      56-65, .463

Phillies    54-66,  .450

Beginning with Friday night’s contest against the Pirates the Cardinals will have an equal number of home games (21) and road games (21) the rest of the way. The Mets have the most favorable home-away schedule, with 22 games at Citi Field and 19 on the road. The Padres have the least favorable home-road schedule; they’ll play 22 of their final 39 games away from San Diego.

THE WILD-CARD PROBABILITIES, VIA  FANGRAPHS: The Cardinals are the underdog. No problem. Just win many, many games. Hope that Mike Shildt doesn’t burn out Giovanny Gallegos and Alex Reyes. Continue to receive good starting pitching. Improve your 37 percent winning percentage against teams over .500. Stay healthy. And then your odds will be fine. Doesn’t matter, anyway. Play ball.


  • Reds 42.4%
  • Padres 41.8%
  • Phillies 23%
  • Mets  11%
  • Cardinals 8%

GOOD-TEAM, BAD-TEAM UPDATE: With the Mets now in the loser’s group at a game under. 500, here’s a revised look at the Cardinals’ performance based on quality of opponent: 

Against winning teams: 19-32, .373 winning percentage. They are tied for second in the NL for fewest games played (51) against winning sides. The Cards rank 22nd overall and 11 in the NL in winning percentage vs. winning opponents. 

Against losing teams: 43-26, .623. Their 69 games against opponents with losing records are third most in the NL. And their winning percentage vs. losing sides is fourth best in the NL. 

The Cardinals have more games remaining against winning teams (23) than losing teams (19.) But as noted yesterday, the Redbirds are about to embark on a nine-game itinerary against the Pirates (7) and Detroit Tigers (2.) 

The Pirates (42-79) are 2-15 in August. Beware the Tigers; they have a losing record on the season (58-65) but are 49-41 since May 8. The Tigers went 2-0 against the Cards in a brief series at Detroit on June 22-23. 

PAUL GOLDSCHMIDT: I don’t believe we are giving the first baseman enough credit for his performance since the weather warmed up. 

— Since the beginning of June, Goldy leads the Cardinals in batting average (.313), onbase percentage (.380), slugging (.512), OPS (.892) and is second in homers (12), RBI (42) and stolen bases (6.) 

— And since the 1st of June Goldschmidt is batting .383 with a .936 OPS when batting with runners in scoring position. He’s delivered 31 RBI in 60 at-bats with RISP over that time. 

— His numbers are even more impressive when condensed to July-August; the profile includes a .333 average nine doubles, seven homers, 27 RBI, and a .925 OPS. Goldy is 50 percent above the league average offensively in park-and-league adjusted runs created since the start of July. 

— And when Goldy has stepped up with runners in scoring position since the 1st of July he’s hitting .429 with a .982 OPS — and has 20 RBI in 35 at-bats. 

— Goldy went 6 for 13 in the three-game series against the Brewers. 

BUILDING A BETTER BULLPEN: By bringing in lefty T.J. McFarland and righthander Luis Garcia, the Cardinal front office has largely cleaned up a big mess in the bullpen. 

Before the All-Star break the Cardinals bullpen ranked 19th overall and 10th in the NL with a 4.38 ERA. And as you know, walks were a huge problem, with their relievers walking 13.6 percent of batters faced. 

Since the All-Star break the Cards bullpen ranks eighth overall and No. 3 in the NL with an ERA of 3.54. Only the Giants (2.79) and Dodgers (2.86) have done better. And here’s another significant difference: the St. Louis relievers have a 8.7% walk rate since the break. And that includes a low 5.9% rate in August. 

Before the break the STL bullpen had the worst strikeout-walk ratio (1.6) in the majors. Since the break, the bullpen ranks 13th in MLB with a 2.6 strikeout-walk ratio. 

Here are the notably low walk rates since the All-Star break: McFarland 4.8%, Garcia 1.9%, and Genesis Cabrera 7.2%. (Cabrera’s first-half walk rate was just under 14 percent.) 

McFarland and Garcia have played a large role in increasing the bullpen’s ground-ball rate since the break. McFarland’s sinker has generated a 64.6% ground-ball rate during the second half. And Garcia has a 49% grounder rate since the break. 

BULLPEN PRAISE, PART TWO: The Cardinal bullpen has a 3.11 ERA in August — and with a good 4.2 strikeout-walk ratio. In the three-game Milwaukee series the STL relievers had an 0.77 ERA in 11.2 innings. In Thursday’s 8-4 win, five relievers shut the Brewers down in 4.2 innings of relief of starter Jon Lester. Junior Fernandez, Garcia, Cabrera, Giovanny Galleogos and McFarland combined to face 13 Brewers and didn’t allow a hit or a walk. They needed only 38 pitches to notch 14 outs. Excellent stuff. 

“Their bullpen did a good job,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “We were very quiet against their bullpen.”

JON LESTER: In his four starts as a Cardinal, Lester has a 7.08 ERA. He’s allowed an average of 1.82 walks-hits per inning (bad), has a 9.3 percent walk rate (bad), and an extremely low strikeout rate of 8.3% (real bad.) Lester has faced 71 RH batters as a Cardinal and they’ve thumped him for a .350 average and .904 OPS. 

In the 14 games that  weren’t  started by Lester this month, Adam Wainwright, Jack Flaherty, J.A. Happ, Wade LeBlanc and Kwang Hyun Kim combined for a 2.47 ERA. And Waino, Flaherty and Happ have a 1.88 ERA in their nine combined starts. 

THE CURIOUS MR. LARS NOOTBAAR: All in all, the rookie outfielder has performed impressively in his first major-league voyage. In 23 games and 56 plate appearances, he has an .801 OPS and is 20 percent above league average offensively in adjusted OPS. There’s also his three homers, a triple and a double, and nine RBI. You can criticize his .229 batting average, but I won’t do it; Nootbaar is slugging .479 and getting on base about 32 percent of the time. He doesn’t strike out much (14.2%) and walks often (12.5%.) 

Nootbaar has played in 11 games this month, but has only 25 plate appearances. He’s pretty much made the most of the PAs by batting .300 with a 1.173 OPS. He hasn’t shown any rookie anxiety and looks like he belongs. He’s a mature 23. The one obvious weakness: this LH batter doesn’t hit lefty pitching. Nootbaar is only 1 for 10 vs. lefties, and has a .901 OPS vs. RH pitchers. In the minors this season he had a .934 OPS vs. RH and a .583 OPS against lefties. 

YES, TOMMY EDMAN IS IMPROVING: He has a .684 OPS (too low) and .304 onbase percentage (too low) this season and is 25 percent below league average offensively when facing righthanded pitchers. But I’m here to point out some positives about his offense: 

1)  Edman has 37 doubles, 7th in the majors and tied for 2nd (with Nolan Arenado) in the National League. 

2) He continues to hammer lefthanded pitching this season: .330 OBP, .529 slug, .859 OPS, and 15 extra-base hits in 104 at-bats. Edman is 30 percent above league average offensively when taking on RHP. 

3) He’s stolen 19 bases in 24 attempts. 

4) His performance vs. RH pitchers has improved over the last couple of months. Since the 1st of July Edman has a .727 OPS and essentially at league average offensively against righthanded pitching. 

5) That matters because Edman was 35 percent below average vs. RH during the first three months. So his improvement is substantial. 

6) In his last nine games Edman has a .289 average, .357 OBP and .500 slug — with five doubles and a homer. 

TYLER O’NEILL: The Cardinals are 14-5 this season when he homers in a game. He hit the game-winning home run Thursday night. It was his 21st homer overall this year. 

CARDS VS. THE BREWERS BIG THREE: Granted, the fellers were shut out for six innings by Corbin Burnes in the first game of the series. But the Cardinals got to Freddy Peralta and Brandon Woodruff in the final two games, scoring nine earned runs against them in seven innings. Combined, Peralta and Woodruff faced 34 Cardinals and allowed 13 hits including six doubles and two homers — with a walk and a hit batter. 

The Cardinals were effective against two of Milwaukee’s three All-Star starting pitchers. Hard to complain about that — even if the Cards did lose the series. 

Keep an eye on Peralta and Woodruff. Are the innings catching up to them? Peralta has been placed on the IL with shoulder inflammation. And in his last two starts (Cubs and Cardinals) Woodruff has given up six earned runs, 10 hits and four walks in seven innings for a 6.75 ERA. 

ONE MORE THING: Good luck to Miles Mikolas.

Thanks for reading …


Check out Bernie’s 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 live online and download the Bernie Show podcast at 590thefan.com  … the 590 app works great and is available in your preferred app store.

The weekly “Seeing Red” podcast with Bernie and Will Leitch is available at 590thefan.com …

Follow Bernie on Twitter @miklasz

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