Hey there.

Welcome to the Redbird Review for Wednesday, June 2. 

THE OUTCOME: Cardinals 3, Dodgers 2. The victory gave the Cardinals a 5-4 record on their road trip with one game to go. 

A VERY FINE WIN BY THE CARDINALS: And here is why I say that: 

+++ Because after taking an early 2-0 lead during their first 11 plate appearances against Los Angeles starter David Price, the St. Louis offense went dead for more than six innings, going 1 for 21 with no walks and nine strikeouts against a marching orchestra of Dodger relievers. But the Cardinals stirred in the 9th inning for the go-ahead (and winning) run. That’s a tough way to get a win. But the Cardinals snapped back in the 9th thanks to a Tyler O’Neill single and steal and an RBI single by Edmundo Sosa. 

+++ Because the Cardinals had a 2-0 lead, courtesy of John Gant’s six shutout innings … only to lose the advantage in the 7th when Giovanny Gallegos walked Albert Pujols then served a hanging slider for a two-run homer by Matt Beaty. That’s a wrenching way to squander a late lead, failing to protect the precious cargo with one of your best relievers handling the assignment. But the Cardinals weren’t demoralized by the Gallegos drop. They re-energized and won the damn ballgame. 

+++ Because the Cardinals backed their pitchers with superb defensive plays from second baseman Tommy Edman, center fielder Dylan Carlson, and O’Neill. The dramatic, exciting catch by O’Neill came after a spectacular high-speed chase of a scary-looking Mookie Betts line drive. O’Neill pursued the Betts projectile into the left-field corner and saved the win.

+++ Because Alex Reyes gave the audience another dramatic presentation of his cardiac-Cards-closer performance. They are frightening. They are fun. And they ended in triumph. Before sealing his 16th save in 16 opportunities, Reyes set up O’Neill’s speed-racer heroics by giving up a two-out walk and two-out single. 

+++ Because Tyler O’Neill isn’t just doing well, establishing consistency, and giving the peoples hope that he’s finally delivering on the hype. No, it’s much more than that. The Bro is just taking over games now. Power, Speed, Defense. You want to beat the mighty Dodgers? You can’t be weak. You send your biggest, most badass man in there to do the job. Oh, Canada! 

The Cardinals really needed this win. And it wasn’t easy. Not easy at all. But they emerged from the turbulence with their 31st victory of the season. As Tony La Russa would have said, They Played A Hard Nine. 

THE OVERVIEW: The Cubs (31-24) won again — gee, thanks for nuthin’,  Padres — to maintain their half-game lead over the 2nd place Cardinals (31-24) in the NL Central … the Brewers were mashed for 10 runs in a loss to the lowly Tigers and fell to 2.5 games back of the first-place Cubs … the Cards are 7-5 in one-run games. The Dodgers have lost an MLB-high 13 games by one run … the Cardinals improved to 8-13 in games against opponents with winning records … after dropping the first two games in the series against the Chicago White Sox, the Cardinals have won five of their last seven on the current road trip. 

THE CURIOUSLY CHARMING JOHN GANT DOES IT AGAIN: 95 pitches, six innings, four hits, three walks, four strikeouts. No runs. None. Again. Gant has refused to yield a single run in five of his 10 starts this season. And he’s never been hit for more than three runs in a start this year. These aren’t nine-inning complete games, of course. But at a time when MLB pitchers are averaging 5.1 innings per start, Johnny fits right in. He averages exactly 5.1 innings per start this season, which matches the MLB standard for 2021. In that context, Gant’s stinginess is commendable. 

A few Ganties:

  • His 1.60 ERA is fifth best among MLB starting pitchers behind Jacob deGrom, Brandon Woodruff, Lance Lynn and Kevin Gausman. 
  • Gant’s walk rate (15.2%) is the fourth highest among MLB starters.
  • Gant has allowed a .169 batting average with men on base, and a .109 average with runners in scoring position. 
  • Gant has walked 34 batters this season, but only five of the 34 have scored. That’s 15 percent, and it’s also pretty freaking amazing. 
  • How adept is Gant at the dark arts, in his constant escapes from danger? This: only 11 of his 94 baserunners have scored this season. That’s 12 percent. And it is absolutely ridiculous.

SPEAKING OF ESCAPES, WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER STARTERS? Here’s the percentage of baserunners that have scored against each Cardinal starter this season: Gant 12%, Kwang Hyun Kim 28%, Jack Flaherty 33%, Johan Oviedo 34%, Carlos Martinez 35%, and Adam Wainwright 37%. 

ALEX REYES, THE GANT OF CLOSERS: The Cards closer has walked 26 batters this season. Only one has scored. Yes. I said ONE. That’s 4% percent. And this one is just as nuts: Reyes has allowed only TWO of 42 baserunners to score this season, or 5%. Reyes has an ERA of 0.62 in his 29 innings this season. 

FOR CONTEXT, CONSIDER THIS: 23 of 43 baseunners have scored against Cards lefty reliever Tyler Webb this season. That’s 55 percent. My complex analysis: Tyler Webb is not Alex Reyes. Then again, who is? 

LET’S DEBUNK A BOGUS STAT: I do this simply because I can. With Jack Flaherty going on The IL with a strained oblique, this one is making the rounds and spreading like fleas. 

The Cardinals are 9-2 when Flaherty starts a game this season, and have a 22-22 record when others start. 

1) Yes, Flaherty is really good. His quality-start percentage (64%) is tied for 9th among NL starters. Jack has a 2.90 ERA. He leads the STL rotation with 62 innings. Jack Flaherty will be missed, very much so. And the Cards rotation depth is alarmingly thin. Options are low. 

2) Flaherty also benefits from generous run support that factually is the best in the majors for a starting pitcher. In Flaherty’s 11 starts the Cardinals have averaged 7.9 runs per 27 outs, and that’s No. 1 for a starting pitcher in either league. 

3) This does not mean, however, that the other starters are somehow letting the team down, and not doing their jobs, because their records aren’t as shiny as Flaherty’s. So this 22-22 thing is extremely misleading when we contrast it to the Cards going 9-2 in Jack’s starts. 

The Cards are 4-6 when Adam Wainwright starts. In their six losses in games started by Waino, the Cardinals have scored a total of 13 runs. Or 2.16 per game. 

The team is 4-5 when Carlos Martinez starts. But in the five defeats, they’ve scored 11 runs, or 2.2 per game. 

John Gant: The Cardinals are 6-4 in his 10 starts, even though he’s got the fifth-best ERA among MLB starters. In the team’s four losses in games started by Gant, the Redbirds have scored four runs. Total. An average of 1.0 runs per loss. 

Kwang-Hyun Kim: Cards are 5-3 in his starts and have scored six runs, or 2.0 per game, in the three losses. 

Johan Oviedo hasn’t pitched well, and the Cardinals are 1-3 in his starts this season. But the hitters have at least some share in that; they’ve scored nine runs in the three losses, 3.0 per game. Daniel Ponce de Leon started two games; the Cards went 1-1. They scored three runs in the loss. 

Let’s add it all up. In the team’s 22 losses in games started by a pitcher other than Flaherty, the Cardinals have scored 46 runs in those 22 games. That’s an average of 2.09 runs per loss. 

So, yeah. When a team scores two runs in a game, it won’t win many of the games. That’s the predominant reason why the Cardinals have lost 22 games when Flaherty doesn’t start. Because in most (but not all) instances, the offense failed to do its job. So why attribute the loss solely to the starting pitcher just because he happens to have the assignment on days when the bats are cold? 

In the team’s two losses in games started by Flaherty, they scored seven runs, an average of 3.5 per game. That’s the highest average of runs scored in a lost game by a Cardinals starter this season. 

So even when the Cards lose a Flaherty start, they still provided better run support for Jack compared to the other starters. And in the nine wins in games started by Flaherty, the Cardinals averaged 8.4 runs. 

UPDATING THE O’NEILL FILE: Tyler O’Neill has 133 plate appearances and is one of eight Cardinals with at least 100 PA so far this season. Don’t look now, but O’Neill is leading the Cardinals in homers (12), slugging percentage (.619), OPS (.927), Isolated Power (.341) and wRC+ (151.) 

The 151 wRC+ means that O’Neill is 51% above average offensively when adjusting for park and league effects. He’s also second in extra-base hits (19), stolen bases (5) and third in batting average (.278.) 

In 104 plate appearances since April 23, O’Neill is batting .316 with a .346 OBP, .714 slug, 1.060 OPS and 186 wRC+. Meaning that he’s 81 percent above the league average offensively. The Fielding Bible credits O’Neill with two defensive runs saved in left field. 


Byte: If the NL had adopted the DH this season, Jack Flaherty wouldn’t be on the IL for a “significant” amount of time. And all because MLB wanted to wait on going with a universal DH in order to use it as a bargaining chip in the upcoming labor negotiations with the players.

Byte:  Is it a slump? In his last 11 games Nolan Arenado is 7 for 44 (.159) with a .506 OPS. He has a homer and four RBIs over that time.

Byte: Are they tired? Giovanny Gallegos leads all MLB relievers with 33 innings pitched, and is tied for 8th with 26 appearances. Gallegos is also tied for 9th with 10 multi-inning relief outings. Genesis Cabrera is tied for 8th in appearances (26) and is 18th in innings pitched (26.1) … Alex Reyes 6th in innings (29) and tied for first in appearances (27) … Cabrera has had seven instances of pitching on consecutive days; Reyes has six, and Gallegos has four.

Byte: is he on fire? During the Cardinals’ current 5-2 run on the road trip, Tommy Edman is batting .346 with a .414 OBP and .697 slug for a 1.106 OPS. In the seven games he has nine hits, three doubles, two homers, three RBIs, a stolen base and seven runs. 

NEXT ON THE SKED: Carlos Martinez vs. LA’s Walker Buehler. First pitch 8:10 STL time with Dan McLaughlin on Bally Sports Midwest. With a win the Cards can close the 10-game trip with a 6-4 record. 

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. 

Follow Bernie on Twitter @miklasz

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.