Welcome To The Redbird Review.
This is not a pleasant task, having to review the horrors of recent events that have enfeebled the village baseball team. But someone must do it.
This is no time for Happy Talk.
There’s a Darkness on the Edge of Town, people.
Springsteen knows. He’s a baseball fan.
THE TRENDS. NOT GOOD. BAD:
— The Cardinals have lost their last six games, getting clobbered for 47 runs while scoring only 19.
— They have lost eight out of their last nine. Run differential: minus 39. During the collapse the Redbirds have (A) had the lead at the end of the inning in only 10 of the 81 innings; (B) led after only four of the 72 innings in their eight losses; and (C) been outscored 40-13 in the first five innings.
— Since the start of the Cubs-STL funhouse weekend series at Busch Stadium, the Cardinals are 6-12. Regrettably, this includes a 1-7 record at home. The Cardinals are 15-15 at Busch this season; the .500 home winning percentage is tied for 20th in the majors.
— Hey, remember when the Cardinals won at Milwaukee on May 13 to grab a three-game series from the rival Brewers? Jack Flaherty pitched like an ace in the final game, and the Cards shut out the Crew 2-0. Good times!
— Sadly, the Cardinals are 8-15 since Our Man Jack conquered the day, and the fellers have been outscored by 54 runs. In the majors only Arizona (3-21), Texas (5-18) and Baltimore (6-17) have a cruddier record than St. Louis over that time.
THE LEVEL OF COMPETITION:
— Remember the sunshine-splashed doubleheader against the Mets, at Busch, back in early May? The teams split the two games. The Cards won the first game and stood proud at 18-12 on the season. They had the second-best record in the National League.
— Well, unfortunately Team Shildt is 13-18* since then despite his frequent praise of his Cardinals for scratching and clawing, battling their tails off, giving no quarter, leaving their hearts on the field, etc.
— Why the asterisk? Eight of the 13 victories came against Colorado, Pittsburgh and Arizona; the Cards are 5-17 against other opponents during this toboggan ride down a steep and treacherous hill.
— The Cardinals are 8-15 this season vs. teams with winning records.
THE RIVALS ARE SIZZLING HOT
— The Cubs are 22-11 in their last 33. They’re 12-6 in the last eight games. Third baseman Patrick Wisdom has eight home runs in 10 starts and has seven homers in his last nine games.
—The Brewers are 13-3 since acquiring shortstop Willy Adames from Tampa Bay. The Crew has won 10 of the last 11 games. And Milwaukee pitchers have allowed only 11 runs in the team’s current five-game win streak.
— The Reds got all mouthy after sweeping a four-game series against the Cardinals. I’m sorry, but when did Joey Votto go gangsta? Is this some sort of middle-life crisis?
— “We had some (trash)-talking (expletive) in St. Louis after the first series sweep,” Votto said Tuesday, in speaking to Cincy media upon his return from a lengthy stay on the IL with a broken thumb. “It’s nice to go on the road, at their ballpark and let them have it. We had some people sweeping brooms and (stuff) like that while we were leaving. So, how’d you like that? How’d you like that? Lots of season left.”
— This is actually funny. As far as intimidating Canadians go, Votto is about as menacing as William Shatner. After Votto popped off, the Reds took the field for a 5-1 smackdown by visiting Milwaukee. Sweeping STL was sweet for a team and a town that remains obsessed with the Cardinals. But the Reds are 5-11 since May 19 when they play a team other than the Cardinals.
Or as the late, great Candian troubadour Leonard Cohen said: “First of all nothing will happen and a little later, nothing will happen again.”
Sorta applies to the 2021 Reds.
But hey, they did come to St. Louis to humiliate the Cardinals. Gave them something to yap about. They earned it.
ST. LOUIS PITCHING. BIG HEADACHES.
— Flaherty is out indefinitely with a torn oblique muscle, joining rotation brothers Miles Mikolas and Kwang Hyun Kim on the Injured List. Mikolas (forearm miseries) has pitched four MLB innings since Oct. 11, 2019. Kim has taken a fragile turn because of lower-back problems. Carlos Martinez is on Planet 9. Adam Wainwright is approaching his 40th birthday. John Gant evidently likes a Pandera song (“Walk.”)
— Johan Oviedo, the (Cardinal) nation turns its lonely eyes to you.
— By now president of baseball operations John Mozeliak is probably trying to track down Jaime Garcia and Mike Leake to see how they’re doing, how’s the arm, and if there’s a chance of a comeback.
— The Cardinals have a team ERA of 5.60 ERA since May 14, which ranks 29th among the 30 teams. Their starting pitchers since May 14 have a 5.72 ERA (26th) and have lasted fewer than five innings in 11 of the 23 games. They have departed short of six innings in 17 of the 23.
— The Cards had a staff ERA of 3.83 in their first 30 games. In their 31 games since then, the staff ERA is 4.76.
— Here are the number of earned runs allowed by Milwaukee’s top three starting pitchers to this point of the season, in 199 combined innings: Brandon Woodruff (12), Corbin Burnes (13), Freddy Peralta (16.) Impressive, yes?
— Well, the Cardinals have a starting pitcher, Carlos Martinez, who has been pummeled for 18 earned runs in his last 4 and ⅔ innings. (The storm against Carlos began in the three-run seventh at Arizona on May 27.) That’s really impressive in the wrong kind of way.
— One more note on Martinez for now: 92 batters have reached base against him this season; 45% have scored.
— Cardinals pitchers have walked more batters, hit more batters and thrown more wild pitches than any staff in the majors. (We’re talking about unintentional walks.) To update a statistic from yesterday: 29 percent of the hitters walked by the Cardinals have come around to score. The Cards have allowed 282 runs this season; 32 percent of those runs have been scored by opponents that were walked or hit by a STL pitcher.
— It’s up to Waino to end this. Make all of the bad stuff go away for a few hours, at least. He starts against the Clevelanders on Wednesday night.
THE SUGGESTION BOX:
— Not sure why Jake Woodford doesn’t get a chance to start. In 2019 he was a Pacific Coast League All-Star pitcher. He made 26 starts that season, pitching 152 innings. He was a first-round draft choice. His ERA as a reliever is 3.50. Ideal solution? No. I’m not saying that. But Woodford was drafted as a starter, developed as a starter, made the Triple AAA All-Star team as a starter, showed the capacity to handle innings as a starter, and has done a decent, solid job out of the bullpen in 2021.
THE OFFENSE. MUCH TOO QUIET:
— The Cardinals have scored four runs or fewer in 19 of their last 25 games, averaging a puny 3.5 runs with a .667 OPS over that time. (Team record: 9-16.)
— I looked at the St. Louis hitters that have at least 50 plate appearances over the last 25 games, just to do a “hot” and “cold” check. I’ll leave you with this: among dudes with 50 PA since May 12, Matt Carpenter has a higher OPS (.761) than Dylan Carlson (.702), Yadier Molina (.657) and Tommy Edman (.649). And Carpenter’s .761 is virtually the same as Paul Goldschmidt’s .763 over that time. Oh, dear.
— As mentioned earlier, the Cardinals were 18-12 after 30 games, and home runs were a key factor. Through the first 30 games they homered every 24.5 at-bats. But over the last 31 contests the home-run pace has slowed: a homer every 36 at-bats.
— For many reasons it’s impossible to dislike Tommy Edman. There is much to appreciate. But in his last 30 games Edman has an OBP of .277. That’s poor for a leadoff hitter. And among the 18 leadoff hitters that have at least 100 plate appearances since May 1, Edman’s .308 OBP ranks 17th. (Ahead of Milwaukee’s Kolten Wong.) When a team’s No. 1 hitter isn’t getting on base with the necessary frequency, it’s a drag on the offense.
— Since returning from the IL on May 8, Yadier Molina is batting .241 with a .273 OBP and .386 slug for an OPS of .658. Perhaps Molina will heat up again after jumping back into the lineup. He’s missed a few days to rest a sore knee. Andrew Knizner hasn’t hit much. Since May 8 the Cards have gotten a .640 OPS from their catcher position; that ranks 19th in the majors.
— Nice guy and all. Had a fabulous spring training. But John Nogowski is 1 for 17 for the Cardinals this season. And he’s 0 for his last 15.
— In 48 at-bats for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Albert Pujols has four homers, two doubles, 13 RBIs, a .509 slugging percentage and .809 OPS. Against LH pitching this season Pujols is batting .309 with a .673 slug and 1.018 OPS.
— Finally, going into Wednesday’s game against Cleveland, here’s where the Cardinals rank among the 15 NL teams in the key categories:
- Runs per game, 10th at 4.18
- Batting average, .230, 13th.
- Onbase percentage: .302, 12th
- Slugging percentage: .388, 8th
- OPS: .690, 11th
OK, we’ve just about made it through.
Just to cheer you up: late Tuesday, Mike Shildt predicted that his team is about to get hot. So there you have it.
Thanks for reading …
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.
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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.