THE REDBIRD REVIEW
Taking It To The Extreme: The Cardinals sure are vulnerable in the early-schedule events of 2021. I’m speaking of their mercurial offense, which flexed and unloaded for 12 runs in Monday night’s Cirque du Home Run at Nationals Park. The Bullies on the Bat bludgeoned their way to five home runs. Two by Pauly De Jong, and one apiece by Paul Goldschmidt, Tommy Edman and Justin Williams.
Washington starter Joe Ross watched his ERA go up in smoke, blazing to 5.87 after he’d pitched seven scoreless innings in his first two starts. And Mr. Joe Ross is now familiar with the many moods and swings of St. Louis hitters. Last week? Ross shuts down the Cardinals for six innings: no runs, four hits, no sweat. And less than a week later, Ross got only 13 outs before manager Davey Martinez intervened to stop the fight. The damage was extensive, as Ross got smacked for eight hits, and 10 earned runs. He may have suffered whiplash by watching four home runs soar over his head.
You pitch against these unpredictable Cardinals, and things can change in a hurry. One week you’re as badass as the rapper Rick Ross. The next time out, when the Birds are teeing off, you might as well be Marian Ross, star of the 1970s sitcom “Happy Days.”
Imbalanced Runs Distribution: The Cardinals have scored 83 runs this season. And 55.4 percent of the 83 runs (46) were made in only four games. In the other 12 games the Cardinals scored 37 runs for an average of 3.08 per competition.
Imbalanced Runs Distribution II: Look, teams generally score more runs when they win, and scratch out fewer runs in losses. But the Cardinals are taking this to another level. In their eight victories the Cardinals have 64 runs, 19 homers, a .515 slugging percentage and .868 OPS. In their eight losses, they have 19 runs, six homers, slugged .559 and posted a .558 OPS. Or to put it another way based on the statistics of former Cardinals: when the Cards win, they hit like Matt Holliday (.874 OPS.) When they lose, they hit like Dal Maxvill (.558 OPS.)
Imbalanced Runs Distribution III: The Cardinals have scored 44 runs in Jack Flaherty’s four starts this season. That’s a nifty average of 11 runs per joust. The other STL starting pitchers have been gifted with an average of 3.25 runs in 12 assignments. Flaherty is only one of three MLB starters that’s received an average of 10 runs of support per start; the others are Nick Pivetta (Boston) and Matt Shoemaker (Minnesota.)
Let’s Play Home Run Derby! After Monday’s Cannonade on the Potomac, the Cardinals moved into a tie with Atlanta for most home runs in the majors, 25. (Hey! Whaddya say about that, Nicholas Castellanos?) And let’s update a statistic I offered a day ago: the Cardinals have now scored 56 percent of their total runs on homers this season. Here comes that word again: extreme.
Of their 25 homers, the Cardinals launched 15 in only four games: five on Monday night in the District of Columbia, four on Saturday in Philly, three last week against the Nationals at Busch Stadium, and three at Cincinnati in the second game of the season. Their other 10 homers were scattered about in the other 12 games.
As The Rotation Turns: Jack Flaherty has a 3.80 ERA this season in four starts. The other Cardinal starting pitchers have a collective 6.88 ERA in their 12 turns of the rotation. The STL rotation ERA (5.97) is 29th, better than only one team, Washington (6.24.) Flaherty has the only two Quality Starts churned by the Cards rotation in 16 games. Jack has a 1.59 ERA and two quality starts over his last three outings. We just wish he could go deeper into starts. But Flaherty’s career-low first-strike percentage (50%) and pitches in the strike zone percentage (40.7, tied for his career low) are preventing that.
Paul DeJong, An Unusual Year: DeJong’s two homers gave him five on the season, tied with nine other players for 7th in the majors. It’s been an interesting start to the season for DeJong, with his plate appearances ending with lots of homers (7.9%) walks (14.3%) and strikeouts (33.3%.)
DeJong is having a “Three True Outcome” season. That’s the term applied to plate appearances that don’t involve the defense except for the pitcher throwing the baseball and the catcher receiving the baseball. Plus the rare inside-the-park home run or a strikeout with a dropped third strike.
DeJong has 63 plate appearances so far. And 35 of those PAs (55.5%) have ended on a strikeout, walk or homer. After Monday’s game in Washington, DeJong’s OBP is up to .317, and his slugging percentage has increased to .472. DeJong ranks 22nd in the majors among qualified hitters with an Isolated Power percentage (ISO) of .283.
Tracking The Young Outfielders: Tommy Edman has seven extra-base hits among his 12 overall hits this season, and has increased his slugging percentage to .441 and his OBP to .351. Well done … In his last 12 games Dylan Carlson is batting .308 with a .413 OBP, .590 slug and 1.003 OPS. During the stretch Carlson has 12 hits, six for extra bases. He’s scored 10 runs and driven in six. For the season Carlson’s 156 OPS+ puts him 56 percent above the league average offensively. Among lineup regulars only Yadier Molina has a better OPS+ (158) than Carlson … Monday night manager Mike Shildt finally put Carlson in the No. 5 lineup spot and the rookie reached base twice, on a walk and a triple, and scored two runs …. And how about rookie Justin Williams? In his last eight games (seven starts) he’s batting .364 with a .462 OBP and .636 slug for a 1.098 OPS. This includes two homers, six RBI and four runs scored.
Next On The Sked: Adam Wainwright starts for the Cardinals on Tuesday night (6:05 pm STL time), facing Nationals lefty Patrick Corbin. It’s been a rough start for Corbin; he’s allowed four homers and 15 earned runs in 6.1 innings.
Key Question: Which Cardinals offense will post up tonight?
Thanks for reading …
Please 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.
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.