The Cardinals are in Queens, NY to open a three-game weekend series against the Mets, and will head to Detroit for three more road games against the Tigers.

If you believe the St. Louis offense will fire up and begin to score runs at a consistently higher rate, then your patience will likely pay off, because this team has some positive things going on.

If you believe that ownership-management have destroyed the franchise and your 12-year old kid could be a better manager than what the Cardinals have now … well, your mind is closed and that’s OK with me. Nothing I will say or write — no matter how many facts I sprinkle into the discussion — will change that.

I see the Cardinals as an improved team in overall pitching, late-inning relief, defense, base running, fundamentals, etc.  A team that’s capable of being better than their 11-14 record shows. But until they get to .500 or better, there won’t be much to talk about.

They just don’t have an offense, a reality that can’t be ignored and hasn’t been ignored here in this space. The Redbirds have scored three runs or fewer 16 times this season. TOO MANY. And going back to the start of 2021, the Cardinals are 52-176 for a .228 winning percentage when scoring three or fewer runs in a competition.

Let’s take a look at the Cardinals through the first 25 games on their schedule.


1. The New Pitchers. Starters Sonny Gray, Kyle Gibson and Lance Lynn collectively have a 3.04 ERA in 13 starts. And that has a chance to improve because Gray has made only three starts so far. As for the bullpen, offseason acquisitions Andrew Kittredge, Ryan Fernandez, Nick Robertson and Riley O’Brien have combined for a 2.04 ERA in 23 innings. And that’s without offseason addition Keynan Middleton, who is working his way back from a forearm strain. The seven new pitchers (starters + relievers) have a 2.81 ERA through 25 games.

2. Improved Defense: The Cardinals were terrible defensively in 2023, and the ineptitude was a factor in the abominable performance by the pitching staff. The defense is sharper and more reliable in the early weeks of the 2024 season. As of Friday morning the Cardinals were third among National League teams with +7 defensive runs saved, and second in prorated Ultimate Zone Rating. Their range rating is second best in the NL. They’re tied for the highest rating in the majors at turning double plays. Their outfield-arms grade is tied for second in the NL.

3. Baserunning / Small Ball: I’ve relayed this information multiple times this month, but it should be emphasized. The Cards lead the majors in extra bases taken. They are the best in the majors at moving a runner over from second in no-out situations. Their rate of scoring runners from third with less than two outs – which ranked 13th in the NL in 2023 – is above average and up by five percent from last year. The Cardinals and Padres are at the top of the majors for productive-out percentage. The 2023 Cardinals were 14th in the NL and 26th overall in productive-out percentage last season. Manager Oli Marmol vowed to restore this team fundamentally (and on defense) after a broken 2023, and he’s getting it done.

4. The Late-Inning Bullpen: Last season the Cardinals ranked 12th in the National League with a 4.57 reliever ERA from the start of the seventh inning through the end of the game. This season the relievers rank fourth in the NL with a 2.08 ERA from the seventh inning on. The newcomers to the bullpen have raised the reliability of this team’s late-inning protection. The Cardinals lead the NL and are fourth in the majors with an 80 percent save rate.

5. Masyn Winn & Willson Contreras. We all know that the St. Louis offense has underachieved. But we should recognize the hitters that have done a consistently good job. Using OPS+ as a reference point, Contreras is 68 percent above league average offensively this season. And Winn, the rookie shortstop, is 27 percent above average offensively. Winn leads the Cardinals with a .313 batting average and is second in onbase percentage and slugging percentage. Contreras leads the team in onbase percentage (.422) and slugging (.529.)

Worth Mentioning

+ The Cardinal starting pitchers have had a couple of bad first innings. But the early-game run prevention has improved. Last season St. Louis starters ranked 13th in the National League with a 5.25 ERA in the first three innings of the game. So far in 2024, the starters rank fourth in the NL with a 3.72 ERA over the first three innings.

+ The Cardinals have played eight series and won four of them. Last season they won only two of their first eight series with one split. Their current 11-14 record isn’t handsome, but they were 9-16 through the first 25 games in 2023. I’m not buying any confetti or planning for a party, but this team is in pretty good shape … other than the offense, of course.


1. The Nonthreatening Offense: The Cardinals are 14th among the 15 National League teams in runs per game (3.48), batting average (.221), OBP (.303), slugging (.338) and OPS (.642.) They’re also last in the NL with a .197 batting average with runners in scoring position. I do believe this will get better. There are too many potentially good hitters to have an offense that drags like this.

2. The Paucity Of Home Runs: It’s costing them wins. The Cardinals have 16 homers, fewest in the NL and 29th overall. They’re averaging a scrimpy 0.64 homers per game, and hitting just one HR every 50.6 at-bats. The word “destitute” applies here. And it’s a problem. Since the start of 2023 the Cardinals have a .350 winning percentage when hitting no more than one home run in a game. And they have a .609 winning percentage when hitting at least two homers in a game. I made home runs a separate category for a reason: you can have an offense with a low batting average and onbase rate and still score a healthy amount of runs.

Example: the Reds are batting .222 with a .309 OBP this season but rank sixth in the NL with 5.08 runs per game. Cincinnati’s base-stealing ability is a run-generating skill, but the offense has hammered a lot of timely home runs. They’ve homered 26 times overall. But eight have come with runners in scoring position. Four were three-run homers. Two were grand-slam homers. Seven of their home runs broke a tie and put the Reds in the lead. Two other HRs tied the game. And two homers put the Reds ahead when trailing. That’s a lot of impact.

2. Jordan Walker’s Collapse: The second-year outfielder, nearly 22, was bumped to Triple A Memphis after hitting .155 with a .239 OBP and .259 slug in 20 games. He had one extra-base hit (a double) in 67 plate appearances. His ground-ball rate (50%) is too high and a waste of his hard-contact capabilities. Walker isn’t turning on pitches for pull shots. He hit .429 when pulling the ball last season and that batting average is .267 this year. More concerning is his struggle against four-seam fastballs. As a rookie in 2022, Walker batted .349 with a .651 slug and 19.4 percent strikeout rate on four seamers. This season he’s batting .118 with a .176 slug and a 42.1 percent strikeout rate on four seamers. That’s disturbing. Jordan’s demotion — for a second consecutive season — raises more questions about the organization’s frustrating recent history in the effort to develop young talent.

3. Paul Goldschmidt, What’s In The Tank? He had two strong games in the three-game set against Arizona this week, so perhaps the proud first baseman has found a way to plug in. We’ll see. But he’s hitting .200, has only three extra-base hits in 104 plate appearances, is slugging .278 (ouch) and has a strikeout rate of 29.8 percent. His hard-hit rate has increased in recent times, so that’s one point of encouragement. But can we talk about four-seam fastballs? When Goldy won the league MVP award in 2022, he had a +14 Run Value on four-seam fastballs. In 2023 that dropped to minus 3, and it’s back at minus 3 again so far in 2024. And there’s been a similar deterioration in his performance against sliders. Goldschmidt will turn 37 years old on Sept. 10. Also: more home runs from Nolan Arenado, and fewer strikeouts from Nolan Gorman.

4. Miles Mikolas, Steven Matz + Returning Pitchers: Here are the basics on Matz and Mikolas: they have a combined 6.04 ERA in 10 starts this season. Their average game score in 10 starts is 41.8 – and the league average is 50. In their last two turns in the rotation – four starts between them – they’ve allowed 22 earned runs in 18 and ⅔ innings (10.06 ERA.) They’ve had only two quality starts (both by Mikolas) in 10 combined starts this season. Matz is averaging fewer than five innings per start. Going into the weekend, the Cardinals are 3-7 in games started by Matz and Mikolas.

The nine St. Louis pitchers who were a part of the 2023 Cardinals – Mikolas, Matz and seven relievers – have combined for a 5.11 ERA this season. In fairness, closer Ryan Helsley and left JoJo Romero have pitched very well, and Matthew Liberatore looks better.

5. Yeah, The Injuries. Nobody wants to hear it, and I’m not an injury-excuse guy because all teams have them. But from a numbers game – as in available players – the Cardinals have encountered real challenges during the first 25 games because of injuries to Sonny Gray, center fielder Tommy Edman, outfielders Lars Nootbaar and Dylan Carlson and reliever Keynan Middleton. The bullpen has held up and is a team strength, and the three new starting pitchers are just what the front office hoped for so far. Reinforcements should help.

Worth Mentioning

+ There isn’t much depth among position players. Brandon Crawford, Victor Scott II and Michael Siani collectively have 10 hits in 99 at-bats for a .101 batting average. Matt Carpenter (oblique) is 3 for 10 but hasn’t played since April 1. Siani’s defense is exceptional, and Alec Burleson is hitting .244 when he starts, and catcher Ivan Herrera is 1 for 17 with seven strikeouts in his last seven games.

+ Outfield Production: Not much. Very little. In 293 plate appearances this season St. Louis outfielders are batting .192 with three home runs and a wRC+ that puts them 29 percent below league average offensively.

+ Home-Run Deficit: The Cardinals have been popped for 29 home runs, and they’ve hit 16 home runs. That minus 13 won’t cut it. That said, the STL pitchers have reduced their home runs allowed rate over the last 17 games. In the first eight games the Cardinals allowed 2.0 homers per nine innings. In the last 15 games, they’ve given up 0.8 HRs per nine innings. That’s tied for fourth-lowest in the majors since April 5.

+ Attendance Is Down! Fans are showing their displeasure by not showing up. This trend will persist and get a huge amount of attention because the STL media is going ga-ga over the empty seats. Which is fine. Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. has noticed.

Thanks for reading … and i hope you have a happy weekend.


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.