Let me say in advance that I’m sorry for being overly comprehensive here. But I have too much to say on this Monday. Be my guest to skip over the parts that aren’t interesting to you. There’s plenty here — good, bad, otherwise — for everyone.

Now let’s begin …

I’d usually be among the first annoying voices to remind everyone that the Cardinals still have 140 games to go, then suggest patience, calmness and moderation. No, I’m not going to do that again. Not until there’s a reason to reevaluate.

The Cardinals need to win some ball games.

And the Cardinals have to win some ballgames by emerging from a fossilized state to come alive and score runs. And more runs than just three per game. Otherwise they will starve, and that will be it for 2024.

They have to hit a lot better, pitch a little better. Hit a lot better and continue to play above-average defense. Hit a lot better and keep pushing for an extra base and moving runners over … when they actually have runners to move over or drive in with a timely single or a bases-clearing extra-base hit.

The Cardinals have to do a lot better – much, much better – at hitting home runs. Their power can’t be purchased from Ameren Missouri, stolen from a work of fiction (Roy Hobbs) or generated by plugging in the AI version of Mark McGwire circa 1998. Their current, real-life, red-blooded human hitters must supply their own voltage. And that probably starts by getting out of their own heads. Untangle the headwires and set yourselves free.

The Cardinal hitters must do a much better job of supporting their pitchers instead of wasting good pitching with the numbing futility at the plate. The Cardinals can’t strand 31 runners on base while getting swept by Milwaukee in a three-game series over the weekend.

The Redbirds need manager Oll Marmol to put his best lineup on the card each day to give the Cardinals their best shot at busting loose. Marmol did that Sunday, and all it produced was a shutout loss to the Brewers. But that isn’t the point. Marmol has to keep doing it. Some players may dislike being moved around or put in a less prestigious spot, but the only feelings that matter are the upbeat feelings that percolate after a win.

President of baseball ops John Mozeliak would do well to stay off TV because fans don’t want to hear him say the same old things about his same old team. The customers want more results – improved results – and less of the standard verbiage and spinning by rote.

I’m ripping up my standard and boring “It’s Early!” lecture because it’s never too soon to start winning for a team that’s coming off the worst showing by the franchise in a full season since 1990 … and for the love of Vern Rapp are on the same damn track to do it all over again.

Through 22 games last season the Cardinals were 9-13 and stuck in last place.

This year through 22 games the Cards are 9-13 and stuck in last place.

Except the 2024 team is technically worse because it has a minus 19 run differential through 22 games. The 2023 Cardinals were a minus two in run differential after 22 games. The 2023 team averaged 4.72 runs over the first 22 games. This one has averaged 3.45 runs over the first 22.

You may not be surprised to see the Cardinals fall down and go boom again in 2024. I am. Especially when the offense is to blame. But I can’t talk about the early hours of the 2024 season and pretend that everything is fine.

Not when the Cardinals are a disgusting 80-104 since the start of the 2023 competition. And that’s the point: this is an extension of something onerous that we didn’t want to see again of our lifetimes.

That’s right; the Cardinals are 24 games under .500 since the beginning of 2023 with a .435 winning percentage that ranks 26th overall and 14th among National League teams.

And this is who they are unless the Cardinals give us a justifiable reason to adjust our views and replenish some confidence about them. We can’t say relax because the bad times will end soon, and it won’t be this bad all season, etc. Nobody wants to hear about that when their team has embarrassingly lost six of its last seven games at home and are getting booed by frustrated, fed-up fans.

This just in: the so-called home field advantage does not exist in St. Louis. The Cardinals have lost two out of three home series at Busch Stadium in a disturbing pattern that set in last year.

Since the start of the 2023 season the Cardinals are a horrendous 38-52 at Busch Stadium for a .422 winning percentage. Brutal. And an extensive tradition of home-ballpark success is being destroyed.

The Cardinals’ shabby home winning percentage over the last two years is the worst by a National League team and ranks 28th overall.

Fans are booing because of the losing – but also because the home team is failing to provide sufficient entertainment value for the fans who pump a generous amount of revenue into the product each year.

In this once-thriving and pleasant relationship between the Cardinals and their fans, the fans are still doing their part by continuing to provide high-level support of the team.

The team, however, keeps giving the paying customers a low-level performance, a bottom-dwelling presence on the floor of the NL Central, and a horrible staycation for those who build their weekends and other leisure-time periods around going to Cardinal home games.

This is a shame. A sharp edge has been lost. A relationship has been frayed. Busch Stadium used to be such a cheerful place for the BFIB – and an intimidating place for visiting teams.

From the opening of the new Busch Stadium in 2006 through the 2022 season, the Cardinals had the third-best home winning percentage in the majors at .589. And over that time, only the Dodgers (.617) did better at home than the Cards among NL clubs. It’s not the same environment. Losing is a drag on enthusiasm and emotion.

This 9-13 start is different from last year’s 9-13 stumble out of the gate.

At least this 2024 edition has solid starting pitching, a stout bullpen, and prevents runs with an improved defense. Despite all of their troubles, the Cardinals came into Monday ranked 10th in the majors for the fewest average runs per game, 4.32. Last season they were 24th with 5.12 runs yielded per game. The fundamental skills are more reliable and smarter.

The Cardinals are pitching deeper into starts, holding onto leads, playing heads-up defense, and staying faithful to baseball fundamentals. That foundation can work and prevent this team from submerging to even lower depths.

The foundation will not hold if the lineup has the dreadful weight of a deadened old tree that can’t be revived no matter how many remedies are applied.

This madness is embodied by the endless Outfield Shuffle. So far this season St. Louis outfielders have combined for a grand total of three home runs. And former St. Louis outfielders have combined for 30 home runs. Paul DeJong isn’t an outfielder but he does have three homers and a .558 slugging percentage for the White Sox.

Predictably, outfielder Richie Palacios is leading Tampa Bay hitters in OPS+. He’s 68 percent above league average offensively. At least the Cardinals got a helluva reliever, Andrew Kittredge, in exchange for Palacios. But …

It just never ends.

And that can also be said about the losing.

The crowds won’t fill Busch Stadium and be happy with these field trips until the Cardinals get back to playing winning baseball. Fun baseball. Dare I even say inspirational baseball. The idea is to entertain and reward the fans instead of depressing the fans and leaving them disillusioned and looking for something else to do with their time and money.

The Battlehawks are fun, St. Louis City SC is fun, and the Cardinals are the opposite of fun.

It’s early. But it sure feels like it’s getting kinda late.

WHERE THE BOYS ARE: Since defeating Miami on April 6 to push their record to 5-4, the Cardinals are 4-9 in their last 13 games, averaging only 2.9 runs during the discouraging stretch … their 9-13 record puts the Cardinals six games out of first place in the NL Central … STL’s winning percentage (.409) is tied for 23rd overall and is 13th in the National League, above only 6-17 Miami (.261) and 5-17 Colorado (.227) … the Cardinals have played seven series and have a series record of 3-4 … dating back to last season the Cardinals have lost six consecutive home games to the Brewers and are 4-8 against Milwaukee in the last 12 games played at Busch.

COMATOSE OFFENSE: Make no mistake, the offense is – overwhelmingly – this team’s biggest weakness. (You didn’t need me to tell you that.)

* The Cardinals are averaging 3.45 runs per game this season, the poorest by any National League team and 27th overall.

* The Cardinals have scored 3 or fewer runs in 12 of their last 14 games. Overall, St. Louis has scored 3 runs or less 15 times in 22 games, most by an NL team and 2nd most to the White Sox (16.) In the last 14 games the Cardinals have averaged 2.9 runs per game and 2.2 runs in their nine losses over that time.

* Sad thing is, Cardinals pitchers had a 3.46 ERA in the last 14 games but the team went only 5-9 in those games because of the impoverished offense.

* Also sad: the team’s .171 batting average with runners in scoring position in the last 14 games. The St. Louis hitters have been 37 percent below league average with RISP over that time.

* Over the same 14-game stretch: Brendan Donovan, Nolan Gorman, Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, Lars Nootbaar, Alec Burleson and Jordan Walker have combined for eight hits in 64 at-bats with runners in scoring position. That’s a .125 batting average, my friends.

* I’ll get to the team’s home-run drought in the next item.

* Entering the new week the Cardinals rank last in the NL in batting average (.217) and are 14th among the 15 teams in onbase percentage (.301), slugging (.333), OPS (.634) and OPS+. Their OPS+ (79) means they are 21 percent below league average offensively.

* Since the start of the 2023 season the Cardinals rank 11th in the NL with an average of 4.3 runs per game.

HOME-RUN HUNGER: The Cardinals have gone eight straight games without sending a gift home-run ball to the fans. Their last home run (Lars Nootbaar) was stroked in the 3rd inning of the series opener at Arizona on April 12. Nolan Arenado had homered earlier in the game. But since Nootbaar went deep, the Cardinals have 282 consecutive at-bats without a HR.

Nootbaar’s home run was the team’s 13th of the season. Ten days later they’re still stuck on 13, and the Cardinals are averaging a pathetic 0.59 homers per game. Only one team (White Sox) has done worse than that at 0.52 home runs per game.

The Cardinals have homered every 55.2 at-bats this season, the worst HR ratio in the NL and second worst overall to the White Sox (59.6).

Moreover, this is the worst home-run ratio by a Cardinals team (so far) since the 1991 Cardinals homered every 78.8 at-bats.

Through Sunday, 16 big-league hitters had at least 6 homers this season. That’s one more than Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, Nolan Gorman and Jordan Walker have (5) combined. Good grief.

ABOUT THE STARTING PITCHING: Through the first 22 games Cards starting pitchers have a 4.21 ERA that ranks 9th in the NL and 20th overall. That ERA could be better, but it still represents significant improvement from their 5.08 starter ERA in 2024.

More pertinent is the showing of the starters since Sonny Gray returned from the IL to rejoin the rotation on April 9. In the 11 games since then, the Cardinals have a 3.58 starter ERA that ranks third in the NL and ninth overall. The fielding independent ERA isn’t as good, and that’s a warning. We can probably expect the trend to normalize to an extent, but this rotation is better than last season’s rotation.

Since April 9 Gray, Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson have combined for a 1.74 ERA in their seven starts. (Gibson has a 3.75 ERA in his last two starts.) The problem: since Gray’s return, Miles Mikolas and Steven Matz have been blasted for 16 earned runs in 19 innings for a combined 7.57 ERA.

For the season, the Cardinals’ current average of 5.4 innings per start is third best in the NL and seventh best overall. The STL starters are going deeper into games as of late, logging 6+ innings in five of the team’s last eight games. And a St. Louis starting pitcher has worked at least five innings in six of the last seven games.

As we know, the run support for St. Louis starting pitchers is the skimpiest in the National League, and Sunday’s 2-0 loss to the Brewers was a familiar outcome. For the fifth time this season, the Cardinals lost a game despite their starting pitcher giving up no more than two runs.

THE DAZZLING SONNY GRAY: Among the 123 MLB starting pitchers that have worked at least 17 innings this season Gray ranks fifth with a 1.04 ERA. And he has the third highest strikeout rate (35.9%) among the 123 starters. So far the only two major-league starting pitchers with a larger strikeout rate than Gray are Milwaukee’s Freddy Peralta (36.7%) and Pittsburgh’s Jared Jones (36.4%). Gray tried to get his teammates get a win, but the Cardinals left seven runners on base over the first two innings … and that was it.

ON KYLE GIBSON: As you will undoubtedly recall, Gibson was pounded by the Marlins in his second start of the season, allowing seven earned runs and two homers in six innings. Not that many will choose to give Gibson a nod of credit, but he has a 3.31 ERA in his other three starts. Gibson has pitched at least six innings in his four starts as a Cardinal. His average of 6.3 innings per start ranks is tied for seventh best in the majors and is second best in the National League.

ABOUT MILES MIKOLAS: Let’s go straight to the numbers, with an accounting of his performance since the righthander signed a three-year contract extension worth $55.75 million before 2023:

40 total starts and a 4.98 ERA.

In his last 27 starts, a 5.59 ERA in 153 innings. Plus a strikeout rate of only 15 percent.

In the last 27 starts, Mikolas has absorbed considerable damage on two-strike counts, yielding a .236 batting average and a .667 OPS. Over the corresponding time, MLB starting pitchers have allowed a .179 average and .538 OPS on two-strike counts. And the slugging percentage (.385) against Mikolas in two-strike counts over his last 27 starts is a whopping 100 points worse than the .285 slug allowed by MLB starters over the same time frame.

The Mikolas 6.49 ERA this season is the fourth worst among MLB starters.

STILL BULLISH ON THE BULLPEN: No complaints here from me, especially after the Cardinals demoted reliever Andre Pallante to Triple A Memphis to convert him into a starting pitcher. Which, honestly, I think is a good idea.

Even with Pallante’s 6.30 ERA in nine appearances, the Cardinals’ 3.51 ERA ranks 11th in the majors and fifth in the National League. And the bullpen’s strikeout rate (26.7%) is fourth overall and No. 2 in the NL. And their strikeout-walk ratio (3.19) is tops in the NL.

Here’s the skinny: If we subtract Pallante’s substandard work from the overall bullpen totals, the other nine St. Louis relievers have combined for a 2.65 ERA and 29% strikeout rate. That’s very, very good. Pallante walked 10.2 percent of batters faced, and the collective walk rate for the other Cards relievers is 7.6%.


As noted, the Cardinals have scored no more than three runs 12 times in their last 14 games. Just take a look at some of the hitting performances over the last 14 games. I’ll use wRC+, the metric that adjusts for park and league effects. The league average wRC+ is 100. So anything under that average is … not good. Again this is confined to the last 14 games, a time when the offense went into a deep freeze.

On the positive side:

Willson Contreras, 59 percent above average
Masyn Winn, 33% above average
Lars Nootbaar, 33% above average
Nolan Arenado 30% above average.
Ivan Herrera, 4% above average

Contreras went 0 for 4 on opening day in Los Angeles but has a 16-game hitting streak since then in which he’s batted. 321 with a .977 OPS. Over the team’s last 14 games Contreras is batting .350 with a .922 OPS. He never lets the pressure eat at him. He doesn’t shrink. He stands tall on a ballclub that has too many uptight (or soft) hitters.

Nootbaar is hitting .241 since returning but we should focus on the fact that he’s walked on 21 percent of his 38 plate appearances for a .405 onbase percentage. And he’s been on base at least twice in six of his nine games.

Winn still leads the Cardinals with a .317 batting average for the season. And the losing doesn’t get to him. Over this 14-game stretch he’s batted .300 with a .396 OBP and .425 slug. Winn is maturing fast and adding walks to his offensive profile.

Herrera has cooled in terms of batting average (.212) and overall slugging (.394) over the last 14 games but still has two homers in his 38 plate appearances over that stretch …

In the team’s last 14 games Arenado is batting .308 with a .373 onbase percentage and .442 slug. The doubles are coming and it’s good to see Arenado cooking but he still has only one homer in 86 at-bats this season.

On the negative side: 

Here’s the ugly picture from the last 14 games and once again I’ll use the wRC+ metric — with 100 being the league average:

Victor Scott II: 144 percent below league average offensively (and batting (.069) and was sent to Triple A Memphis on Saturday. He’ll get going.

Paul Goldschmidt: 80 percent below league average offensively over the team’s last 14 games, with a .143 average, no extra base hits and a glaring 28.6% strikeout rate.

Nolan Gorman: 53 percent below league average offensively with a .146 average over the team’s last 14 games … though he did hit three homers. But over his last five games Gorman is 1 for 21 (.048) with 12 strikeouts in 21 plate appearances. That’s a 57 percent strikeout rate. He’s lost at the plate. The lack of composure is startling.

Jordan Walker: 43 percent below league average offensively over the team’s last 14 games, and batting .161. For the season the second-year right fielder has a .164 average, an awful .273 slugging percentage, and no home runs in his 44 at-bats. Hugely disappointing.

Brendan Donovan: I’m surprised to see him struggling so much; over the team’s last 14 games he’s 40 percent below league average offensively and is 9 for 55 (.164). And though he’s drawn some walks, Donovan has a sickly .262 onbase percentage during this slump.

Alec Burleson: He has one of the team’s better batting averages (.269) over the last 14 games – but with only one extra-base hit and one walk. That’s why he’s 27 percent below league average offensively over that time.

The Cardinals aren’t going to rise up and smote the opposition with a scary-good or even respectable offense unless:

* Goldschmidt reverses the aging process and gets younger.

* Walker and Gorman grow up instead of getting pulled down by an obvious lack of confidence and calmness and a screwed-up hitting approach …

* Arenado starts pulling pitches for homers over the wall in left field.

* Donovan makes course corrections and gets back to what he does best which is to get on base and hit to all fields. He’s been trying to do too much and we can see that the way he’s swinging for the fences.

* Burleson starts showing some power, which could happen if he just stops chasing so many pitches out of the strike zone. His chase rate of 35.1 percent is an increase from last year. He should be maturing and taking smarter at-bats by now.

That’s how I see it, anyway.

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. Friday. Stream it live or access 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.

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.