THE REDBIRD REVIEW
For those who weren’t sure what the Cardinals were getting when left-handed starting pitchers Jose Quintana and Jordan Montgomery arrived at the Aug. 2 trade deadline, here’s an update on how they’ve done:
– Quintana-Montgomery combined starts: 15.
– Team record in their starts: 14-1.
– Team’s record in all other starts: 15-9.
– Quintana and Montgomery’s combined ERA: 2.16.
– Starting-pitcher ERA in all other starts: 4.31.
Among National League starters that have pitched at least 40 innings since Aug. 2, Montgomery ranks third with a 1.45 ERA and Quintana is 10th with a 2.93 ERA.
As a Cardinal Montgomery has 1.4 fWAR that ranks fourth overall and third in the NL since the deadline. Since the trades that changed the Cardinals’ fortunes, Montgomery has more fWAR than Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes and teammate Adam Wainwright. Quintana, eighth in the NL with 0.9 fWAR since the trade, has more WAR than Milwaukee’s Brandon Woodruff, Arizona’s Merrill Kelly and teammate Miles Mikolas.
The combined Montgomery-Quintana fWAR (2.4) is impressive considering their relatively brief time as Cardinals.
These are two of the best trades made by John Mozeliak since he became the top executive in the St. Louis baseball operation before the 2008 season.
NOTES ON MY SCORECARD
Accounting Department: Despite the disappointing 4-3 record against Washington and Pittsburgh, two of the three worst teams in the majors, the Cardinals (83-58) are still 25 games over .500 and lead the second-place Brewers by eight games in the NL Central … with the four-game split vs. Washington and the series win at Pittsburgh, the Cardinals are 11-1-1 in their last 13 series. That goes back to the final series in July, at Washington … by beating the Pirates on Saturday and Sunday the Cardinals improved to 36-34 on the road this season and have won five of their last six series away from Busch Stadium … the Cardinals are 14-7 on the road since July 27.
Speaking of July 27, the Cardinals are tied with the Dodgers for MLB’s best record (32-11, .744) over that time. And the Redbirds have MLB’s top record (29-10, .743) since the trade deadline … by winning the series at Pittsburgh the Cardinals upped their record against fellow NL Central teams to 40-21 this season.
As noted, the Cardinals have a .743 winning percentage since the trade deadline. The other teams in the NL Central – Brewers, Cubs, Reds and Pirates – have a combined .403 winning percentage since then. Records: St. Louis 29-10, Milwaukee 18-21, Chicago 17-22, Cincinnati 15-21 and Pittsburgh (11-26.)
Tracking Paul Goldschmidt: His cold spell has been costly in the bid for the first NL Triple Crown by a player since Joe Medwick in 1937.
Since Aug. 26 Goldschmidt is hitting .208 with a .359 slugging percentage. In 63 plate appearances over that time, Goldschmidt has only two homers and four RBI.
As of Monday morning Freddie Freeman (.331) led Goldy (.325) in batting average. Kyle Schwarber (37) and Austin Riley (36) were ahead of Goldschmidt (35) in homers. And Pete Alonso pulled even in the RBI competition, with both hitters at 109.
Days Off On Sunday? The usual short-attention span bellyachers were at it again Sunday when manager Oli Marmol had Goldschmidt and Arenado seated in the dugout for planned and overdue days off. Marmol made the right call because both players were tired and showing signs of fatigue in their performance. In addition to Goldschmidt’s downturn since Aug. 26, Arenado is hitting .177 with a .222 slugging percentage in September. He’s homered three times in his last 103 at-bats. Giving both a day off – before the team’s scheduled day off on Monday – was the sensible move by Marmol. There is no good reason to run these guys into exhaustion. And both tend to struggle when the tank is low.
The Cardinals have a safe lead in the NL Central. Their chances of catching the Mets or Braves for the NL’s No. 2 postseason seed – already remote – unofficially went down the toilet after consecutive losses to Washington (Thursday) and Pittsburgh (Friday.)
So yeah, let’s just fry Goldschmidt and Arenado in an overreaction to the team’s two-game losing streak. Never mind that the Cardinals have MLB’s second-best winning percentage (.702) since the All-Star break.
Also, I do believe the Cardinals beat the Pirates on Saturday and then again on Sunday … but I could be wrong about that and I’ll check and get back to you. The Cardinals haven’t played great baseball over the last 12 games but still managed to go 8-4. There have been a few clouds in the sky but the sky is not tumbling.
From The Albert Pujols Home Run File: Since July 10, when Pujols has homered in a game, the Cardinals are 12-0 … when he’s homered in any game this season the Cardinals are 14-1 … Pujols has 18 homers on the season, one more than he had with the Angels and Dodgers (combined) in 2021 … this season Pujols has homered in eight different ballparks and has hit home runs off 14 different pitchers … he has 12 homers vs. lefties, and six against righties …
Pujols has pulled 10 of his homers, launched seven to center, and hit one to the opposite field (according to Baseball Reference) … he has hit eight as a DH, seven as a first basemen and three as a pinch-hitter … he’s distributed his homers in a balanced way: seven during the first three innings, six during the fourth-fifth-sixth innings, and five from the seventh inning through the end of the game …
Nine homers have been solo shots, four have been delivered with one runner on, four have flown with two runners on, and he’s walloped one grand-slamma.
Two Pujols homers have tied the game, four have given the Cardinals the lead, and four put the Cardinals within one of their opponent; all four of those played a role in the ensuing comeback win … four of Pujols’ last five homers have either tied the score or given the Cardinals the lead.
Starting Rotation, Trending Well: since the debacle at Coors Field, the Cardinals’ starting pitchers have a 3.06 ERA that’s sixth overall and third-best in the NL since Aug. 12. And the Cardinals are 22-8 during the 30-game stretch.
Inconsistent Offense: the Cards are batting .226 with a .299 OBP and .420 slug since Aug. 30. They’re averaging 4.4 runs per game, down from their loaded-offense streak that got them cooking after the All-Star break. These phases are inevitable in a 162-game march from April through early October. Before that the Cardinals had gone 25-10 in their first 35 games of the second half, batting .282 with a .505 slug and .865 OPS – plus an average of 5.9 runs scored per game.
Here are the lineup regulars guys that have been scuffling at the plate since Aug. 30. I’ll use wRC+ in this and just remember that 100 is league average.
– Brendan Donovan: .211 average, .286 OBP, and a 94 wRC+.
– Tyler O’Neill: .184 average, .368 slug, and wRC+ of 94. But Bro does have two homers, five RBIs and seven runs scored in 10 games.
– Paul Goldschmidt: .205 average, two homers, four RBI, 123 wRC+. (That plus–side wRC+ is due to his walk rate and a high OBP since Aug. 30. But he’s been quiet on the power side of things.)
– Nolan Arenado: .205 average, .580 OPS and a wRC+ of 63.
– Nolan Gorman: .160 average, .360 slug and a 52 wRC+.
– Lars Nootbaar: .091 average, .192 OBP, .273 slug and a 46 wRC+.
Though they’ve had limited plate appearances for various reasons, here are some low batting averages since Aug. 30: Paul DeJong .091, Alec Burleson .111, Dylan Carlson .143, Andrew Knizner .000.
Still Cold In The Outfield: Also since Aug. 30 … Cardinals outfielders collectively have batted .203 with a .290 OBP and .367 slug for a .657 OPS. Corey Dickerson continues to hit, but otherwise it’s been a struggle.
Hey, Now … The Cardinals wouldn’t consider promoting phenom Jordan Walker … who has been playing the outfield … straight to the majors from Double A Springfield, would they? Probably not.
Leadoff Lagging: In their last 12 games the Cardinals have a leadoff-man batting average of .177 and a leadoff OBP of .255. The offense can’t get rolling again unless the hitters being used at the No. 1 lineup spot start getting on base at a high rate again. Nootbaar especially.
Tommy Edman, Bat Man: Since Aug. 23 Edman has produced at least one hit in 16 of 19 games. In 74 plate appearances during that stretch he’s hitting .380 with a .405 OBP and .747 slug for a 1.152 OPS. Outstanding. And Edman’s power surge continues; in his last 18 games and 71 at-bats he has nine doubles, a triple, five homers and 14 RBI.
Thanks for reading …
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All stats used here were sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, Stathead, Bill James Online, Fielding Bible, Baseball Savant, Brooks Baseball Net and Spotrac.
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.