The Cardinals got themselves into a lot of potential trouble by losing Monday’s game to the Phillies, 5-3, in 10 innings.

The home team’s second consecutive loss dropped the Cardinals to 5-6 in the developing season. Problem: the Redbirds now must deal with Philadelphia co-aces Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola in the final two games.

I don’t believe I’m an alarmist by saying the Cardinals would be fortunate to avoid being victimized by the Philadelphia ruffians in a three-game sweep.

The malfunctioning St. Louis offense must kindle some runs, or the six-game homestand at Busch Stadium will end in disappointment and rancor. The townspeople of Cardinal Nation will be raging and thrashing about and venting.

Fibs will be told.

Shoulda kept Tyler O’Neill! I knew he was going to turn into a home-run vending machine in Boston! I told you so! I told everybody!

I told you that Jordan Hicks would be an ace-caliber starting pitcher if the Cardinals re-signed him but the front office blew it, and now Hicks is having a Cy Young year for the Giants! What a massive blunder, and I tried to warn everybody!

Of course, no sober or minimally rational person said either thing. Or maybe they think they said it but the memory is fuzzy. But many such claims — I knew this would happen! — are being made in an attempt to rewrite history.

There is heavy hyperventilating over the unexpected news from Miami: manager Skip Schumaker, the beloved former Cardinal, can become a free agent after the 2024 season. Headline at Fansided: “Latest Cardinals connection could be really bad news for Oli Marmol’s future.” Another headline there declared “Oli Marmol;s Cardinals hit a new low.”

It’s a little confusing. A “new low” at 5-6? Weren’t the Cardinals 0-2 after the first two games at Dodger Stadium? And if we’re talking about the team’s record under Marmol, the low point was the Cardinals flopping to 22 games under .500 (69-91) last Sept. 29.

Here we go again. It looks like Schumaker is the new Oli-replacement fetish … but what happened to Yadier Molina and Albert Pujols? Weren’t they being touted as the next St. Louis manager? And for about 17 minutes or so, various blogs had Daniel Descalso in a prominent position in this make-believe line of succession. What about some love for Stubby Clapp? And where is Yadi, anyway? Can I nominate Matt Holliday?

Late in spring training, Marmol was signed to a new contract that takes him through the 2026 season. And if chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. and president of baseball ops John Mozeliak are that committed to Marmol — and they are — why would they put him in a canoe and cast him aside in the Mississippi River?

And so it goes.

I could offer another “hello, it’s me again, long season, 162 games, let’s settle down” calming device. But what’s the point? Cardinals fans and some media have decided to turn the St. Louis baseball season into an NFL season, with just about every outcome lacking perspective and proportionality.

Then again … even when the Cardinals secure an early-season triumph, how many of the BFIB are truly happy? We live in restless times here in the heart of Grievance America. I’m a victim, you’re a victim, we are all victims … of something.

Cardinals lose. Reaction: the season is over, and this garbage team is finishing in last place again, and I’m done with them. Those Pirates fans in Pittsburgh sure are lucky to have ownership that’s committed to winning.

Cardinals win. Reaction: OK, so what do you want me to do? Put on a party hat and pop a champagne bottle? Want me to get Ricky Martin up in here to samba? These crummy Cardinals beat the Marlins, a high school jayvee team, and those two ‘wins’ shouldn’t even count in the standings.

Contrary to what you may believe, I think these overreactions are fun. Really, I do. I enjoy them. That’s why I write about them. The entertainment from the fans and some lively bloggers out there is usually much better than the show on the field.


I appreciated the home team’s late rally that tied the game 3-3. The Cardinals were down 3-1 with the bases empty and one out in the ninth. Nolan Arenado’s strikeout as the leadoff man in the ninth dropped the Cardinals’ win expectancy to a measly five percent.

And then Ivan Herrera walked and advanced to third on a double by Alec Burleson. From there the Cardinals scored on a sac fly by Jordan Walker and Masyn Winn’s tying, RBI single. I like that some of their youngest hitters led the charge. But reliever Ryan Helsley couldn’t keep the Phillies off the board in the 10th, and the Cardinals came away empty.

Let’s inspect.

Big picture: The offense is drowsy. The Cardinals are averaging 4.0 runs per game, a rate that’s 11th in the National League. They’ve averaged 2.6 runs in their six losses. They’ve hit the fewest homers (8) in the NL. And among NL teams St. Louis ranks 13th in five meaningful categories: batting average, onbase percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, and OPS+. The Cards are 12th in stolen bases, with three. In park-and-league adjusted runs created (wRC+), only the Marlins have been worse than the Cardinals among NL teams. The Cardinals are 21 percent below league average offensively.

Walks and strikeouts: The Cardinals have a poor ratio in this key area. They have the third-worst walk rate (7.5%) and third-worst strikeout rate (25.5%) in the National League. This team is not adept at the skill of getting on base, and that’s a big minus.

Terrible results from the No. 2-3-4 lineup spots: If we break it down into who has the most plate appearances at each of the three crucial slots, here’s the most frequent alignment: Paul Goldschmidt batting second, Nolan Gorman batting third and Nolan Arenado batting fourth.

And when those three hitters specifically occupy the three spots, it’s a bleak picture.

Combining the statistics when Goldy bats second, Gorman bats third, and Arenado bats fourth, this is what we’re looking at:

20 hits in 101 at-bats (.201) with a .198 onbase percentage and .254 slugging percentage. One word: horrendous.

16 of the 20 hits are singles. In those particular spots, Goldy, Gorman and Arenado have combined for one homer, three doubles and nine RBIs.

When Goldschmidt bats second, and Gorman bats third, the two have struck out 26 times in 76 plate appearances for a 34.2 rate.

How can you pile up runs when the key spots in the lineup are flailing?

Manager Marmol has gleaned better results when using Arenado as the No. 3 hitter, Ivan Herrera as the No. 4 hitter, and Gorman as the No. 5 hitter. All three batters have fetching numbers when placed in those spots.

Sliver-sized samples, but …

* Arenado has a .917 OPS in 12 plate appearances batting third.

* Herrera has an .846 OPS in 13 plate appearances batting fourth.

* Gorman has a 1.144 OPS – plus two homers, a double and three RBIs – in 16 plate appearances batting fifth.

RELATED NOTES I: Too much weak contact. Through Monday, the Cardinals had the lowest hard-hit rate (33.5%) among NL teams. Only Cleveland, Toronto and Oakland were worse overall.

RELATED NOTES II: The No. 5 lineup spot – manned mostly by Gorman and Willson Contreras – has delivered power with four home runs and a .541 slug in 46 plate appearances. But the No. 5 spot also has produced a .189 batting average and 32.6 percent strikeout rate. So: less than ideal.

RELATED NOTES III: The No. 2-3-4 spots – no matter who is being used there – have produced a composite .241 average, .301 onbase percentage .361 slug with only three homers and a 26.5 percent strikeout rate. That’s a fail.

RELATED NOTES IV: Goldschmidt’s woes continue. He went 1 for 5 with two strikeouts against the Phillies on Monday and is now batting .200 with a poor .275 slugging percentage and one extra-base hit in 48 plate appearances. His strikeout rate (27.1%) would be his worst in a season since he appeared in 48 games as a first-time major leaguer in 2011. Since Aug. 30 of last season Goldschmidt is slugging .331 in 156 plate appearances.

RELATED NOTES V: Jordan Walker contributed to Monday’s comeback with his sacrifice fly in the ninth. But Walker is off to a quiet start. In his 10 games he’s batted .182, has an anemic .263 OBP, and slugged only .273. Walker’s OPS+ puts him 53 percent below league average offensively. His average exit velocity and hard-hit rate are good, but that hard contact has generated too many ground balls. Walker has struggled against the two varieties of fastballs, going 2 for 21 (.095) with eight strikeouts. Against the four-seam fastball Walker is hitting .083 with a 43% strikeout rate.

HOORAY FOR HERRERA: What a bright light. The rookie catcher, 24, went 1 for 3 with a walk, solo homer, and two runs scored Monday. In 26 plate appearances this season Herrera is batting .304 with a .565 slug, two homers and six RBI. He’s tied for first among Cardinals in homers and is second in RBIs and slugging percentage. His OPS+ puts Herrera 33 percent above league average offensively. The early Statcast reports are very good; Herrera has a 50 percent hard-hit rate and has connected on the sweet spot 40 percent of the time. His average exit velocity (92.6 mph) is strong. And Herrera ranks second among all MLB hitters in barrels per plate appearance. Now, if only the old dudes would help out a little bit.


* Since the start of last season the Cardinals have played 173 regular-season games, and they’ve been above .500 after just two of those 173 games. The first time was April 3, 2023; a win over Toronto on a Sunday afternoon gave the Cardinals a 2-1 record. The second time was this season (April 6) when an 8-5 win over the Marlins gave the Cardinals a 5-4 mark. Now they’re back on the losing side (5-6) of the boulevard.

* Miles Mikolas gave the Cardinals 6 and ⅔ innings on Monday, navigating through six hits and two walks and confining the Phillies to two runs. After the poor start on opening day at Dodger Stadium, Mikolas has a 2.84 ERA over 12 and ⅔ innings in his last two starts. Mikolas hasn’t allowed a home run since the Dodgers went deep for two in the first game.

* Cardinals starting pitchers are tied for fourth in the majors with an average of 5.4 innings per start. The run support is an issue. STL starters have gotten an average of 2.9 runs per nine innings; that’s the seventh worst level of run support so far.

* The St. Louis starters rank 20th in the majors with a 4.85 ERA, and that would be worse without a good defense behind them. I say that because Cardinals starters have a 5.48 fielding-independent ERA that ranks 29th among the 30 rotations.

* Masyn Winn is 5 for 14 (.357) in his last four games. For the season the rookie  shortstop is batting .333 with a .344 onbase percentage.

* Reliever Ryan Helsley was tagged for Monday’s loss after entering the game at the top of the 10th and the score tied 3-3. Per extra-innings rules, the Manfred Man runner was stationed on second base so Helsley didn’t inherit a “clean” situation. The Phillies got to Helsley for an RBI double and a sac fly that made it 5-3. In his big-league career, Helsley has a 0.80 ERA with the bases empty and a 4.94 ERA with runners on base. St. Louis managers have strongly preferred bringing Helsley into his assignment with the bases empty, but that’s not possible at the start of extra innings.

* Cardinals hitters struck out 11 times Monday. They have double-digit strikeout totals in six of their 11 games and have whiffed at least nine times in eight games.

NEXT UP: Sonny Gray (hello!) vs. Zack Wheeler on Tuesday night, followed by Lance Lynn vs. Aaron Nola on Wednesday afternoon.

Thanks for reading …


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. on Friday. Stream it live or grab the show podcast on 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 or through your preferred podcast platform. Follow @seeingredpod on Twitter for a direct link.

All stats used in my baseball columns are sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, StatHead, Baseball Savant, Baseball Prospectus, Sports Info Solutions 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.