THE REDBIRD REVIEW:
Greetings. We have some day ball to look forward to, so I’ll try to get The Review done earlier than usual to leave plenty of reading time before the scheduled 1:10 p.m. pitch in Milwaukee.
Opening Statement: The Cardinals have been this way before, taking two of the first three games from the Brewers in a four-game set … only to lose the series finale and walk away with a 2-2 split. It happened in Milwaukee in early April. It happened in St. Louis in late May. It can’t happen again today at American Family Field. For the third time this season the Cardinals will play the Brewers with a chance to win a four-game series, 3-1. If the Cardinals win Thursday, they’ll leave Milwaukee with a two-game lead in the NL Central standings. If the Cardinals slip again, they’ll return to St. Louis in a tie for the division lead. If this Cardinal team wants to win the NL Central, they have to take advantage of these head-to-head opportunities against the Brewers. Get the damn thing done today, fellers.
The Daily Accounting: Wednesday’s 5-4 victory gave the Cardinals a 40-31 record on the season and a one-game lead over the Crew in the division competition … the Cards improved to 9-8 this season in games decided by one run … the Redbirds moved above .500 on the road at 19-18… they’re 22-11 in games against NL Central rivals … but the Cardinals still have a losing record (17-19) in games against winning teams … through 71 games last season the Cardinals were only 36-35, so the 2022 team is five games ahead of last year’s pace … the Brewers are 14-20 against opponents with winning records.
Goldschmidt & Arenado, Double Trouble: They sure took care of the offensive side of the business in the 5-4 victory, teaming up for three hits, two homers, four RBI and four runs scored. Goldy’s two-run homer put the Cardinals up 2-0 in the top of the first. Arenado doubled in the fourth and scored on a sac fly by Albert Pujols, giving the Cardinals a 3-1 lead. And after the Brewers rallied for a 4-3 lead in the fifth, Arenado responded in the sixth by rocketing a two-run homer after a Goldschmidt walk to reclaim a 5-4 lead for the visitors.
Goldschmidt & Arenado Get Synchronized: Wednesday was a wrecking-crew night for STL’s top two stars, but Goldy and Nado don’t do this very often – homering in the same game, driving in runs in the same game. And considering how productive each hitter has been, the pattern is unusual.
Since becoming teammates at the start of the 2021 season, Goldschmidt and Arenado have combined for 96 home runs and 312 RBIs. Their HR and RBI stats are close to matching; Goldschmidt has 48 homers and 159 RBI since the start of 2021, and Arenado has the same number of homers (48) with only six fewer RBI than Goldy (153.)
But their homers and RBIs aren’t bunched in many of the same games. This breakdown is crazy, and I meticulously checked and confirmed these numbers several times.
Here’s what I’m talking about…
Since the start of the 2021 season:
– Both Goldschmidt and Arenado have driven in at least one run in a game only 32 times. Seriously. Only 32 times. And the Cardinals have played 233 regular-season games since the start of last season. How nutso is that? Well, at least the Cards are 25-7 when they do it.
– Goldschmidt and Arenado have homered in the same game only five times, and the Cardinals are 5-0 on those occasions.
– The Cardinals are 2-0 this season when the two stars homer in the same game, and 8-1 when they both have at least one RBI in the same game. I can’t believe they’ve each driven in a run in the same game only nine times in the team’s first 71 games … but it’s true.
– In 2021 the Cardinals were 3-0 when Goldschmidt and Arenado homered in the same game – and 17-6 when they each knocked in at least one run in the same game.
Cards Offense Vs. Crew Offense: The Cardinals rank 5th in the majors with an average of 4.82 runs per game. The Brewers are 15th with an average of 4.32 runs. In OPS+, the Cardinals are 6th overall at nine percent above the MLB average, and the Brewers are 19th at two percent below average.
This Stat Is More Interesting: Among Brewers that have at least 100 plate appearances this season, catcher Victor Caratini has the team’s best OPS+ at 129. (Or 29% above the MLB average.) But the Cardinals have five hitters (minimum 100 PA) with an OPS+ higher than Caratini’s 129: Goldschmidt (197), Brendan Donovan (148), Arenado (144), Nolan Gorman (137) and Juan Yepez (121.) And Tommy Edman has an OPS+ (122) that’s only seven points less than Caratini’s.
This OPS+ detail tells us at least two things: (A) the St. Louis lineup is much deeper and better; (B) the magnitude of STL’s rookie offensive impact in 2022. If anything the gap will grow, because Dylan Carlson has hit very well since early May and hasn’t slowed down. And after an awful start to the season, Tyler O’Neill was batting .354 with a .905 OPS before going on the IL Monday with a strained hamstring.
Oddly Overlooked Stat: comparison between the teams remains largely overlooked, and I don’t know why. The Cards are 6th in the majors for fewest runs allowed per game, 3.92. The Brewers are 12th with 4.14 runs allowed per contest. How many people would have predicted that before the season? Not many.
A Look At Adam Wainwright: By his high standards he’s scuffled in his last two starts, giving up 14 hits and eight earned runs in assignments at Boston and Milwaukee. That’s a 6.55 ERA in his last two starts but his fielding-independent ERA is a more gentle 4.13 in his last two starts.
Wainwright lasted only 4 and ⅔ innings against the Brewers on Wednesday, with the Brewers getting to him for seven hits and four runs. Manager Oli Marmol pulled Wainwright after 97 pitches and turned to a bullpen that’s been absolutely brilliant in the series. (More on that in a minute.)
Wainwright has a 3.83 ERA in eight road starts this season, with opponents batting .272 with a .772 OPS. In his six starts at Busch Stadium, Wainwright has a 2.68 ERA and opponents have batted .232 with a .622 OPS against him.
Since the start of last season Wainwright has a 6.52 ERA in four starts at Milwaukee. In the four starts he’s been roughed up for five homers, five doubles and a .949 OPS.
Bullpen Brawn: Quite a job by the St. Louis relievers over the first three games of this series. The ‘pen has worked 12 scoreless innings, yielding only three hits and three walks and striking out 10. The Brewers have batted .079 with a .299 OPS against the STL relievers in the three games, and only seven of 42 batters faced have reached base.
The bullpen has handled 12 of the 26 innings in Milwaukee, and Marmol has deployed six different relievers: Johan Oviedo, Gio Gallegos, Genesis Cabrera, Ryan Helsley, Zack Thompson and Drew VerHagen.
The Brewers are 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position against the STL bullpen this series. And they’re 1 for 20 overall with RISP against the Cardinal starters and relievers.
A Different Look For Johan Oviedo: And now that he’s been repurposed into a reliever – that’s the different look – well, we’re looking at him differently. He’s doing superb work in relief, posting a 1.80 ERA in five appearances covering his 10 innings out of the bullpen since June 8. In his last three appearances (two vs. Milwaukee), Oviedo has allowed only three hits and one walk in 6 and ½ scoreless innings.
In 19 starts (87.1 innings) in the majors, Oviedo has a 5.36 ERA, 11.7 percent walk rate, a poor 16.6 strikeout rate, and a 1.59 WHIP. Opponents have slugged .438 and reached base in 37 percent of their plate appearances against Oviedo the starter.
He’s much more efficient as a reliever (14.2 career IP), pitching to a 1.23 ERA with a 7% walk rate and a much better strikeout rate (23.2%.) That sharpness includes a .089 WHIP. Opponents have slugged .308 and reached base only 23.2 percent of the time against Oviedo the reliever.
Oviedo is clearly more confident as a reliever, working quickly and pitching with conviction. The difference is striking, and the Cardinals appear to have come with a talented, tantalizing and timely addition to their bullpen.
“Last year I was worried too much, not trusting in what I was doing out there,” Oviedo told Derrick Goold of STLtoday. “I tried to do more than I can control, thinking about doing well, trying to throw seven shutout innings so I don’t go back down, stuff like that. This year I try to have a clean mind and just enjoy the game.”
Congratulations to Oviedo, who earned his first MLB victory on Wednesday night after pitching 2 and ⅓ scoreless, hitless and walk-less innings. And he struck out three of his seven batters faced. Outstanding.
I mentioned this Tuesday, but the Cardinals are strengthening their middle-inning relief and late-inning depth. Jordan Hicks will be back soon and the Cards will have three legit guys – Hicks, Zack Thompson and Oviedo – to set up the bridge that leads to Gallegos, Cabrera and Helsley. Depending on the health and success of starters Jack Flaherty and Steven Matz, Andre Pallante could eventually head back to the bullpen. Before being elevated to the rotation, Pallante had a 1.63 ERA in 27 and ⅔ innings of relief.
The Rise Of Dylan Carlson: He’s walked in eight consecutive games and has a .406 onbase percentage during that stretch … Carlson has a .409 OBP, .514 slug and .923 OPS since June 10, with three doubles and two homers over that time … In 114 plate appearances since May 2, Carlson is hitting .307 with a .901 OPS and nine doubles, four homers, 12 RBI, 14 runs, 13 walks and only 14 strikeouts … Carlson had a weak .488 OPS in April, came alive with a .837 OPS in May, and now has a .923 in June.
A Few Random Notes: With injuries as a factor, the St. Louis rotation has a 4.14 ERA during the team’s 12-10 June. That ERA is a little high, but a year ago an injury-ravaged rotation had a 5.75 ERA in the team’s horrendous 10-17 June … Pauly DeJong has five doubles, nine homers, 22 RBI and a .654 slugging percentage in his last 20 games at Triple A Memphis … Harrison Bader is 0 for 11 with strikeouts in the first three games of the current series … Tommy Edman has cooled, going 4 for 22 with 7 strikeouts in his last five games … Juan Yepez is 4 for his last 10. And he’s batting .298 with a .489 slug and .823 OPS in June… catcher Andrew Knizner is 4 for 48 (.083) since May 27.
Next On The Sked: Dakota Hudson starts for the Cardinals Thursday. He walked five Red Sox batters in his last start and gave up four hits and two earned runs in five innings. Hudson is 5-3 with a 3.31 ERA in his 13 starts. The Cardinals are 7-6 in Dak’s start this season. He must improve his walk rate of 4.1 per nine innings. The Brewers are starting righthander Jason Alexander, a rotation fill-in that has a 2.42 ERA in four starts. The 29-year-old rookie is giving up an average of 11.7 hits and 3.6 walks per 9 innings but — like Hudson — gets out of jams with an effective 54.3 percent ground-ball rate. Hudson’s GB rate this season is 56.5%.
Enjoy the game …
And thanks for reading …
Bernie invites you to listen to his opinionated 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 by streaming online or by downloading the show podcast at 590thefan.com or the 590 app which is available in your preferred app store.
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All stats used here were sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, Stathead, Bill James Online, Fielding Bible, Baseball Savant and Brooks Baseball Net unless otherwise noted.
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.