THE REDBIRD REVIEW

Good afternoon. Let’s get busy and recap the Cardinals’ solid 8-5 victory over the Reds on Tuesday at Great American Ballpark. There was a power plug-in from Paul Goldschmidt, another busy-bee performance by Tommy Edman, continued production from the bottom part of the lineup, a lockdown by the bullpen, and career victory No. 197 for Adam Wainwright.

THE OVERVIEW

The Cardinals rebounded from their series-opening loss at Cincinnati by putting up eight runs in support of starting pitcher Wainwright. The 8-5 win over the Reds gave the Cardinals a 12-4 record in their last 16 Monday’s defeat was frustrating but no big deal. was no big deal, but it was important for the Cardinals to bounce back for a victory and get back on track.

After a slipshod 10-24 start to the season, the Redbirds have awakened to post the NL’s best record since May 7. In the NL Central the Cardinals trail the first-place Brewers by five games and are four in back of the second-place Pirates.

WHY THE CARDINALS WON

1. Two solo home runs by Paul Goldschmidt. The homers He kick-started the offense. Goldy hadn’t homered since going deep three times in a 12-6 blasting of the Tigers on May 7. Goldschmidt had gone 64 plate appearances between homers, but at least he set up run-scoring opportunities with a .375 onbase percentage during his HR famine.

2. Tommy Edman. Batting eighth in the lineup, Edman had two hits including a triple, drove in three runs, and scored twice. He also played two positions in the game, starting in right field and later moving to second base

3. The Bullpen. With the Reds closing in on Wainwright in the bottom of the sixth, narrowing the Cards lead to 7-5, replacement manager Super Joe McEwing intervened, pulling Wainwright with two runners on and two out. Wainwright was ticked off by the move — well, too bad. It was absolutely the right move by Super Joe McEwing, who took over in the bottom of the third inning after the hopelessly incompetent home-plate umpire Will Little ejected Nolan Arenado and manager Oli Marmol.

McEwing summoned right-handed reliever Chris Stratton, who terminated the threat with a quick strikeout of Kevin Newman. Stratton, Giovanny Gallegos and Ryan Helsley worked the final 3.1 innings, faced 13 Reds, and allowed one hit and two walks. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth Helsley created anxiety by allowing two singles and a walk to load the bases but got a groundout to seal the win.

STARS OF THE GAME

1. Goldschmidt. Among NL hitters with at least 170 plate appearances, Goldy ranks fourth with a 155 OPS+ which means he’s 55% above league average offensively. The three ahead of him on the NL leaderboard are Nolan Gorman, Ronald Acuna Jr., and Freddie Freeman. Also: Goldy is tied for fourth in the NL with 2.1 WAR.

2. Edman. During the Cards 12-4 hot streak Edman has hit .347 with a .346 OBP and .551 slug. His spurge includes five doubles, a triple, a homer, eight RBI four steals, and eight runs scored. Based on OPS+, Edman is 27 percent above league average offensively this season, and his slugging percentage is up to an impressive .490. Among lineup regulars only Nolan Gorman, Paul DeJong and Goldschmidt are the only Cardinal regulars with a higher slug than Edman.

3. Stratton. With the Reds in position to tie, the righty reliever pitched 1 and ⅓ innings in a crucial part of the game. He got five outs and was perfect except for one hit batter.

BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME

Catcher Willson Contreras went 0 for 4 Tuesday. In his last five games Contreras is 1 for 21 with one RBI. For the season, his batting average is down to .236, and his slugging percentage has fallen to .384. Marmol likes to use Contreras at DH and I’m not sure why. In 71 plate appearances as a DH this season, Contreras is batting .186 with one homer and five RBI and is slugging a weak .305.

His offensive numbers are much better when he catches, and the Cardinals gave Contreras $87.5 million to boost their offense at catcher. So why is Marmol giving backup catcher Andrew Knizner the start every three games since the Cardinals put on their  “Willson Contreras Is Our Catcher!” stage show when announcing plans to have him return to catching for the May 15 game vs. Milwaukee?

When Contreras starts at catcher he has a .752 OPS.

When he’s the DH, Contreras has a .629 OPS.

And because Marmol starts Knizner so often, the Cardinals are carrying a third catcher Tres Barrera, so they can pinch-hit for Knizner and still have a backup catcher. When Contreras is the DH, the Cardinals can’t move him back to catcher in a game because they’ll forfeit using the DH for the rest of the game.

Does any of this make sense to y’all?

LET’S PLAY POWERBALL

Goldchmidt’s two homers increased the team’s total to 38 home runs in May. That leads the NL and is second overall to the Yankees (41) this month. But the Cardinals lead MLB in slugging percentage (.479) in May.

Factoids:

* The most home runs ever hit by the Cardinals in May is 42, which happened in 2012. The 2023 Cardinals need five homers in the final seven games of this month to set the new record for May.

* This season the Cardinals are 14-5 when hitting two or more homers in a game. When they fail to hit at least two homers they’re 8-23.

* Through Tuesday the Redbirds ranked 5th in the majors with an average of 1.40 home runs per game this season. The only teams topping that so far are Tampa Bay (1.90), Atlanta (1.63), LA Dodgers (1.62) and NY Yanks (1.50.)

ADAM WAINWRIGHT

Congrats on career win No. 197, but we need to have some straight talk about Waino’s performance through his first four starts of 2023.

His ERA is 6.33, with 15 earned runs given up in 21 and ⅓ innings. His adjusted ERA is 33 percent below league average and the worst of his career.

He’s averaged only 4.3 innings per start, lowest of his career.

Opponents are batting .308 against him with a .549 slugging percentage and .896 OPS. He’s yielding 11.8 hits per 9 innings, the highest of his career.

His strikeout rate is 10.2 percent which would be the lowest of his career. Over the last two seasons his strikeout rate is 17%. For context consider that his strikeout rate was 17.8% last season, and 21% in 2021.That K rate continues to collapse.

His swing-miss rate is 4.5%; that would be the worst of his career.

His groundball rate is a low 35.4% which would be the worst of his career.

He’s not getting much soft contact against hitters; the current rate of 8.5% would be the worst of his career.

According to FanGraphs his fastball is averaging a career-low 86.1 mph.

When swinging at Wainwright’s pitches in the strike zone, opponents have a contact rate of 94 percent.

I could go on, but there’s no reason to. At least the Cardinals are 3-1 in his starts, but let’s be truthful here. That 3-1 record is attributable to tremendous run support. Wainwright has gotten 9.3 runs per game from his hitters.

Manager Marmol is in a tough spot with Wainwright, who had a fit when removed from Tuesday’s start. Marmol has a tendency to appease Wainwright, and that’s a bad way to go unless Wainwright improves.

KNOW THY ENEMY: The first-place Brewers have been hit with another injury to a starting pitcher. This time it’s lefty Eric Lauer, who was placed on the IL with a shoulder impingement. The shoulder has been bothering Lauer for a while and he has a 5.48 ERA in 42 and ⅔ innings this season.

The Crew already has Brandon Woodruff, Wade Miley, Aaron Ashby and Jason Alexander sidelined on the IL. Right now the Milwaukee rotation has Corbin Burnes, Freddy Peralta, Colin Rea and Adrian Houser. They’ll help. The Milwaukee front office took a flier on veteran free-agent RH starter Julio Teheran, who hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2021. The Brewers could reach into the minors for prospect Robert Gasser, who came over from the Padres last season in the deal for Milwaukee closer Josh Hader.

The injuries are impacting the Brewers. In April their starting pitchers ranked eighth in the majors with a 3.74 ERA. In May, through Tuesday, Milwaukee starters ranked 21st this month with a 4.86 ERA. But that’s still better than the St. Louis starting-pitching ERA of 5.12 in May.

BIRD BYTES

* The STL rotation ERA is rising again. In their last four games Cards starters have a 6.33 ERA, and that’s pushed the season ERA to 5.02, which ranks 24th in the majors.

* The Cardinals went 5 for 9 with runners in scoring position on Tuesday, and the timely hitting produced six of their eight runs scored. That made up for a 3 for 16 showing with runners in scoring position in Monday’s 6-5 loss.

* Bottom’s up: In Tuesday’s win the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th spots in the St. Louis lineup collectively had six hits in 13 at-bats (.462), reached base on 50 percent of their plate appearances, cranked two doubles and a triple, knocked in four runs, and scored four times. The 6-7-8-9 spots also went 4 for 9 with runners in scoring position. Paul DeJong batted sixth, Brendan Donovan hit seventh, Edman batted eighth, and Alec Burleson batted ninth.

* DeJong has 80 plate appearances hitting sixth or seventh in the lineup. Here’s what he’s done when batting sixth or seventh: .300 average, .388 OBP, .629 slug, and 1.016 OPS. In addition his OPS+ in these lineup spots is 77 percent above league average offensively; he’s homered seven times or once every 10 at-bats; he’s driven home 15 RBI – and he has a .333 average and a 1.375 OPS with runners in scoring position.

* Ryan Helsey has thrown a total of 50 pitches in his two consecutive relief appearances in Cincinnati.

* In his last eight games through Tuesday, top prospect Jordan Walker is batting .361 with a .410 OBP and .611 slug with two homers and eight RBI.

* After slumping for a while, Lars Nootbaar is 3 for 7 with a walk and three RBI in the first two games at Cincinnati. He’s reached base in 50 percent of his plate appearances and had two RBI in Tuesday’s win.

* Nolan Gorman singled Tuesday to stretch his hitting streak to 13 games. He’s batted .391 with a 1.341 OPS during the streak.

* In his first seven games as a Cardinal, outfielder Oscar Mercado is 8 for 16 (.500) with two doubles and five RBI.

* Will Tyler O’Neill ever return from Never Never Land? Does he have a back problem, or is this a “I don’t wanna come back” problem?

* When Dylan Carlson sprained an ankle at Boston on May 14, we were told that it was a minor thing and listed him day to day. And then we were told the ankle wasn’t responding so the team put Carlson on the IL. And now we’re being told that it’s unlikely he’ll return when eligible to come off the IL on Thursday. Same. As. It. Ever. Was.

* Tonight will match Cards lefty Steven Matz against Reds righty Ben Lively. Matz has a 5.05 ERA this season in five starts and 46.1 innings. Lively, 31, has worked only 11 innings this season and has a 2.45 ERA.

Thanks for reading …

–Bernie

Bernie invites you to listen to his sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS-AM. 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.

Follow Bernie on Twitter @miklasz

Listen to the “Seeing Red” podcast on the Cardinals, featuring Will Leitch and Miklasz. It’s available on your preferred podcast platform. Or follow @seeingredpod on Twitter for a direct link.

All stats used in my baseball columns are sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, Baseball Savant, Bill James Online and Baseball Prospectus.

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.