The Zack and Dak Show is on tour, performing well in an August audition.

The Cardinals have an overall 5.90 starting-pitching ERA this month. That ranks 26th in the majors and 14th in the National League. But we can’t blame Dakota Hudson or Zack Thompson for the damage and the debris.

In seven games started by Hudson and Thompson this month, the Cardinals are 5-2. The righty and the lefty have combined for a 3.55 ERA in 38 innings. The numbers are enhanced if we include Steven Matz, who had two excellent starts earlier this month before going on the IL with a strained lat.

Here’s all you need to know:

In August the Cardinals are 7-2 in games started by Hudson, Thompson and Matz. The three have collectively pitched to a 3.24 ERA in their nine assignments.

The Cardinals are 2-10 this month in starts made by Adam Wainwright, Miles Mikolas, Matthew Liberatore and Drew Rom. The four pitchers have been drummed for a collective 8.07 ERA in their 12 starts. The August earned-run averages are 14.73 for Wainwright, 14.73 for Rom, 5.40 for Mikolas and 5.00 for Liberatore.

It’s been a turbulent, messy and embarrassing 2023 season for St. Louis starting pitching. Through 128 games the Cardinals have a 4.71 rotation ERA. This is the 28th season of franchise ownership for chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. and partners.

That current 4.71 starter ERA would be the second-worst in a season for the Cardinals over the 28 years. The 1999 Cardinals utilized 13 starters that combined for a 4.76 ERA.

Kent Bottenfield, Darren Oliver, Jose Jimenez, Kent Mercker, Garrett Stephenson, Juan Acevado and Larry Luebers accounted for 86 percent of the starts made for a ‘99 team that finished 75-86 despite a combined 99 homers and 254 RBI from Mark McGwire and Fernando Tatis Sr. Big Mac went deep 65 times that year. Super Joe McEwing – now the team’s bench coach – hit .275 in 513 at-bats.

Rookie Rick Ankiel made his major-league debut at age 19 and fired a 3.21 ERA in nine appearances that included five starts. Mark Thompson was a nice surprise with a 2.76 ERA in five starts. The ballyhooed Manny Aybar made one start and was ripped for nine runs in 3 and ⅔ innings.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip down an unpleasant-memory lane.

Zack Thompson was impressive in leading the Cardinals to a 6-4 win at Pittsburgh Wednesday, allowing two runs in five innings before a lengthy rain delay. It’s a teensy sample size, but the best thing about Thompson’s performance is his 30.5 percent strikeout rate in three starts. And he’s walked only three batters in 14 innings. Thompson has one of the best curve-ball spin rates in the majors this season and opponents are batting .184 and slugging .237 when Thompson feeds them a curve.

Thompson and Hudson are taking advantage of the chance to become a regular starter. It’s premature to talk about how each pitcher fits into the team’s 2024 plans, but at least for now the Cardinals have a couple of starters who are doing a good job.

ACCOUNTING DEPARTMENT: The Cardinals (56-72) have a .438 winning percentage that ranks 27th overall and 14th among the 15 NL teams … despite Wednesday’s 6-4 win at Pittsburgh the Cardinals have lost six of their last eight games and have dropped two consecutive series (Mets, Pirates) … the Cardinals are 14-22 against NL Central opponents this season (.388) and have won only 11 of their 30 games against the Pirates, Cubs and Reds.

ADRENALINE SHOT, RICHIE PALACIOS: The 26-year old outfielder has given the Cardinals a boost of energy with his all-around play since being promoted from Triple A Memphis last Friday. Since joining the big club Palacios is 7 for 18 (.389) with a .421 onbase percentage and .677 slug. He has a homer, two doubles and three RBI.

In the three-game series at Pittsburgh, Palacios went 5 for 9 with a homer, double and a walk. That includes his three-hit game in Wednesday’s victory. His first-inning, two-run double was the most important play in the game according to the Win Probability Added metric.

Another plus with Palacios is his defense. In only 26 innings in center field since the Cardinals brought him up to replace the injured Lars Nootbaar and Dylan Carlson, Palacios already leads the club with +2 defensive runs saved in center.

POOR SITUATIONAL BASEBALL: This problem continues to dog the Cardinals. In losing two of three games to the Pirates, the Cardinals went 4 for 28 (.143) with runners in scoring position and left 29 runners on base. They are hitting .178 with RISP in August. For the season the Cardinals have stranded more runners (944) than any team in the majors. And St. Louis is the only NL team that’s left 900 or more runners on base this season. Philadelphia is next with 897 LOB.

Other factors in the situational futility and the wasted opportunities: (1) the Cardinals have grounded into 100 double plays this season, tied for fifth-most in the majors; (2) they have only 26 sacrifice flies this season which ranks 14th in the NL and 25 overall; (3) the Cards have only 57 RBI with the bases loaded, tied for fifth lowest overall and second fewest in the NL; (4) they are minus 5 in baserunning runs, which ranks tied for 25th overall; (5) the Cardinals have a below-average showing this season in going from first to third on a single, scoring from first base on a double, and scoring from second base on a single.

I’ll give you a specific example of what I’m talking about: Last season St. Louis led the majors with 120 runs scored from second base on a single. This season they’ve scored only 69 times from second base on a single – which ranks last in the NL.

TIME FOR ANOTHER RANT: The collapse of this team in the crucial fundamental areas of defense and baserunning is appalling. The decline should be unacceptable, but clearly the Cardinals have lowered their standards, and the lack of accountability is glaring. The neglect and laziness is an insult to legendary Cardinals instructors George Kissell, Dave Ricketts and Jose Oquendo. There was a time when we could count on Bill DeWitt Jr. to do something about it.

A quote from the late and venerated college basketball coach John Wooden: “There are no big things, only a logical accumulation of little things done at a very high standard of performance.”

Yes, sir. And the Cardinals do some of the big things, like bash homers. But their logical accumulation of little things – done at a very high standard – has been missing in 2023. But without effective leadership in place, why would we expect otherwise.


JACK FLAHERTY: He’s 1-2 with a 7.07 ERA since being acquired by Baltimore for three prospects. Before the trade Flaherty was 7-6 with a 4.43 ERA for the Cardinals this season before the trade. Flaherty was scratched from Wednesday’s scheduled start because of “general soreness.” Flaherty didn’t feel right after an excruciatingly difficult start at San Diego on Aug. 15. In the 10-3 loss to the Padres, Flaherty gave up four hits, four walks and seven earned runs while facing 17 batters in three innings.

“You just try to make the right decision of making sure that you feel right,” Flaherty told Baltimore-area media. “Sometimes after starts you just don’t bounce back the way you want to … I didn’t quite feel right, didn’t quite feel like I bounced back. Had a long one there in San Diego. We’ve been working on things and just trying to get ready for the next one.”

JORDAN MONTGOMERY: The Texas Rangers are very happy with their new lefty after him from St. Louis for prospects and lefty reliever John King. In four starts Monty has 1.73 ERA in 26 innings with a 26 percent strikeout rate. All four of Montgomery’s outings have been quality starts, and he’s had at least eight ground-ball outs in each game. Unlike his situation in St. Louis this season, Montgomery is being backed by a quality defense. The Rangers rank ninth in the majors with +22 defensive runs saved.

Earlier this week Montgomery, 30, pitched eight scoreless innings at Arizona, allowing just four hits and a walk. He staked the Rangers to a 1-0 lead but the bullpen couldn’t hold it in a 4-3 loss to the Diamondbacks.

“What a game,” Texas manager Bruce Bochy said of Montgomery after the game. “Just a beauty. He had everything going. He kept the ball down, lots of ground balls. He was on top of his game and he gave us what we needed.”

In his last 15 starts this season — Cardinals and Rangers — Montgomery has a 2.26 ERA and 11 Quality Starts. He’s been one of the better starters out there over the last three months.

PAUL DEJONG: The Cardinals moved their shortstop to Toronto on Aug. 1, but he had a brief stay in Canada. The Blue Jays designated DeJong for assignment after he went 3 for 44 with a 41 percent strikeout rate. The Giants immediately signed him to fill in for starting shortstop Brandon Crawford, who is on the IL with a left forearm strain.

In his first game for San Francisco (Wednesday) DeJong clubbed a solo homer, delivered a two-run single, and made a nice diving stop defensively. Pauly was the star of the game in SFG’s 10-8 win at Philadelphia.

“It’s hard to put into words,” DeJong told reporters after his big afternoon. “I’m just so happy to be out there and contribute for this team. I just had a great first day. It just feels right. I’m thankful for the opportunity and happy it worked out for me.”

During an up-and-down season, the 30-year old DeJong has slugged a respectable .426 with 14 homers in 328 at-bats. And he’s tied for seventh defensively among MLB shortstops with seven Outs Above Average and five runs prevented.

JORDAN HICKS: Hicks has pitched well since going from St. Louis to Toronto for prospects. After allowing two earned runs in his first relief appearance for the Blue Jays, Hicks has a 2.25 ERA, 30 percent strikeout rate, three saves and two holds in his last eight innings – holding opponents to a .148 batting average.

GENESIS CABRERA: After the lefty reliever fell out of favor with manager Oli Marmol, the Cardinals designated “Cabby” for assignment on July 17. The postseason-contending Blue Jays were pleased to give him a job in their bullpen. Cabrera hasn’t allowed an earned run in 11 appearances and 9 and ⅓ innings for the Blue Jays. Opponents are batting .121 against Cabrera since he got out of St. Louis.

CHRIS STRATTON: After going to Texas along with Montgomery, the busy Stratton has upgraded the Rangers bullpen with his 1.29 ERA in eight appearances and 14 innings.


— Ray Ratto, The Defector: “In what is shaping up as the Cardinals’ worst season in 33 years, Adam Wainwright’s worst season ever is particularly metaphorical. If he hadn’t earned the right to leave this way, he’d have already left, and not of his choice. And if the Cardinals hadn’t benefited from his history for nearly two decades, they wouldn’t have let him stay. Baseball math is a cruel bastard that way.”

— Kristen Wong of Fansided noted all of the empty seats during Sunday’s 7-3 home win over the Mets. “The Cards put on a show for the sparse clumps of fans that came out to watch the team play in Busch Stadium,” she wrote. “In a photo that surfaced online, Busch Stadium contained only smatterings of fans making up for a tiny fraction of its 46,000 seating capacity. The St. Louis ballpark was no more lively than a ghost town, which was fitting considering the lifeless 54-70 record the Cards held going into Sunday’s game.”

Thanks for reading …


Bernie hosts an opinionated sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS. It airs 3-6 p.m. on Monday through Thursday and 4-6 p.m. on Friday. You can stream it live or access the show podcast on or through the 590 The Fan St. Louis app.

Please follow Bernie on Twitter @miklasz

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.

All stats used in my baseball columns are sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, StatHead, Baseball Savant, Fielding Bible and Baseball Prospectus unless otherwise noted.

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.