THE LEDE: The Cardinals are having a miserable time of it in San Francisco. They were shutout in the first game, 4-0. On Tuesday, they charged back to take a 4-2 lead with three runs in the eighth, only to get boomed to smithereens on a three-homer off closer Ryan Helsley in the bottom of the ninth for a walkoff 5-4 loss. Two more games to go in the Bay Area, then a three-game visit to Dodger Stadium.

The Redbirds are 1-4 on the three-city trip and have crashed to 9-15 on the season. It’s the worst record by a Cardinals team through the first 24 games since 1960. The Cardinals have a .375 winning percentage that’s tied for 25th overall, and tied for 12th in the 15-team National League.

Can it get worse? Well, sure.

In recent days we’ve seen an alarming sequence of cough-up jobs by the bullpen and a slippage on defense. New problems, added to the existing list of flaws of weak starting pitching and a malfunctioning offense. With this team it’s always something.

Tommy Edman represents the extreme puzzle that’s making their season so crazy.

Edman has four home runs – as many as Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt combined. And Edman has twice as many homers as Willson Contreras, Tyler O’Neill, Lars Nootbaar, Alec Burleson and Jordan Walker. (They have two apiece.) Go figure. And while you’re at it, try to explain this: Edman – a fantastic defensive player – is suddenly making damaging errors that have cost the team a win or two.

Whatever that can go wrong for the Cardinals is going wrong.

Whatever they’re doing right … can go wrong, too.

First the St. Louis Blues, a perennial playoff team that just completed a losing season. The boys were taken down by poor performances, lousy roster construction, too many mistakes and too much malaise.

And now the St. Louis Cardinals, a perennial playoff team that’s off to a horrendous start because of poor performances, lousy roster construction, too many mistakes and too much malaise.

The pattern is so strange, so unsettling.

Stay strong, St. Louis City SC.

ACCOUNTING DEPARTMENT: The Cards are 1-4 on their current 10-game road trip and have a 4-7 record on the road this season … the Cardinals have a losing record against winning teams (6-10) and a losing record (3-5) against opponents that are below .500 … since winning two of three games at Coors Field, the Cardinals have gone 4-8. That’s the second-worst record in the NL since April 13… the Cincinnati Reds (9-15) have caught up to the Cardinals (9-15) for fourth place in the NL Central. It’s only April 26 and the Cards already trail the first-place Pirates by seven games, the Brewers by six games, and the Cubs by five games.

HISTORY WATCH, UPDATED: The 2023 Cardinals are the seventh team in franchise history to have a 9-15 record through the first 24 games of a season. The other six: 1908, 1909, 1920, 1924, 1925 and 1960. None of the previous six made it to the postseason. Only two finished with a winning record. The 1960 Cardinals were 86-68, and the 2025 Cardinals finished a game over .500.

BULLPEN TROUBLES: As Derrick Goold noted at STLtoday: “The Cardinals bullpen lost a tie game in the sixth inning Friday, lost a tie game in the seventh inning Saturday, and lost a tie game in the seventh inning Monday after the error (by Tommy Edman.) On Tuesday, the bullpen lost the lead in the ninth.”

I’ll add a couple of things to that: The relievers collectively have a 3.95 ERA on the trip; before then, their ERA was 3.33. For the season, the STL bullpen has the fourth-worst save percentage in the majors (44%) with five blown saves in nine opportunities. The Cardinal relievers rank 25th in average runs allowed per game from the 7th through 9th innings. Worst of all, the St. Louis bullpen ranks 29th in Win Probability Added (WPA), just ahead of Oakland. Not good. Their bullpen was sturdy or solid earlier in the season, and has become the latest area of the team to crack.

ON RYAN HELSLEY: To this early point of the season, his performance isn’t as impressive as what we saw from him in 2022. His ERA (1.93) is fine, but underlying factors reveal some issues:

Helsley’s strikeout rate, 39.3% last season, is at 31.7% this year.

Last season he walked 2.8 batters per nine innings. This season, that’s up to 3.9 per nine.

Last season Helsley allowed an average of 3.9 hits per nine innings; that’s up to 9.6 per nine this year.

Last season his walks-hits per inning was 0.742. This year, it’s 1.500.

Last season Helsley had 2.7 WAR. This season, he’s below replacement level at minus 0.1.

Last season Helsley had a Win Probability Added (WPA) of plus 3.7. This year his WPA is a below average minus 1.3. I’ll translate: he is more likely to affect the outcome of a game in a negative way.

STARTING ROTATION: Jake Woodford did a fine job of keeping his team in the game on Tuesday, holding the Giants to two earned runs in 5.1 innings. Woodford has a 3.45 ERA in his last three starts … Jack Flaherty (3.29) and Jordan Montgomery (3.81) are the team’s only two starters with an ERA less than 5.47 … for the season the Cardinal starters have a 5.22 ERA that ranks 24th overall and 13th in the NL.

NOLAN ARENADO: After going hitless on Tuesday, Arenado is batting .139 with one extra-base hit and a 32.4% strikeout rate over his last nine games. With five games to play in April, Arenado is in danger of having his worst opening month in a season.

As of now, Arenado would have career-worst numbers for an opening month in OPS (.690), wRC+ (91), slugging percentage (.370), homers (2), Isolated Power, and strikeout percentage (32.4%). He hasn’t homered since April 12. He’s still searching for his timing.

ALEC BURLESON’S DOWNTURN: Let’s take a look at his fast start, then examine his recent trend. The difference is substantial.

  • Through April 10: .308 average, .357 OBP, .615 slug, and .973 OPS.
  • Since April 11: .195 average, .250 OBP, .293 slug and a .545 OPS.

ROAD TRIPPING: In losing three of four the Mariners and Giants, the Cardinals are batting .238, have a poor .285 OBP and are averaging 3.4 runs per game. They had a three-homer game Sunday in Seattle – but have hit only two total home runs in the other three games.

Thanks for reading …


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 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.