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The Cardinals recent woes. Cause for concern? Yes. Cause for despair? No.

Updated: Jun 25, 2021

St Louis fans via Dillip Vishwanat

As of this writing (6/18/21), the St Louis Cardinals are 4 games behind the Cubs in 4th place.

The Cardinals spent most of May in 1st place (May 3rd-30th). Even though there they have yet to see the Entire 5 man rotation in action except for ONE 5 day span, although so far this season, we have had 16 players land on the 10-day IL. Four of them TWICE! Also, three of the 16 are now on the 60-day IL.

Here is a list

  • Harrison Bader April 1- April 30, May 25-?(30 days 1st time)(26 days and counting 2nd time)

  • Kwang Hyun Kim April 1- April 17, June 5- June 10 (21 days)

  • Miles Mikolas April 1- May 22, May 23- May 29-placed on 60 days IL (52 days first time) (21+days and counting the second time)

  • Tyler O'Neill April 11- April 23, May 18-27(21 days)

  • John Nogowski April 23- May 18(26 days)

  • Yadier Molina April 27-May 8(12 days)

  • Adam Wainwright, April 29-May 3, was on the Covid-19 IL (5 days)

  • Daniel Ponce de Leone April 30-May 18 (20 days)

  • Andrew Miller April 30-June 3(35 days)

  • Jordan Hicks May 4-May 14- placed on 60 days IL (46 days and counting)

  • Carlos Martinez May 11- May 22(12 days)

  • Paul DeJong May-14- June 11(29 days)

  • Max Morroff May 29-out for the season currently on 60-day IL

  • Kodi Whitley May 30-?(21 days and counting)

  • Jack Flaherty June 1-?(19 days and counting)

  • Justin Williams June 5-June 18(19 days)

Kang Hyun Kim via APweb

As you can see, just in April alone, NINE players landed on the IL THREE at the start of the season! SEVEN in May with THREE placed on the 60 days IL. So far in June, it has only been 3, but we still have two others out from May, not counting those on the 60 days in IL.

Of these 16 players, nine have been pitchers, At one time or another. Each starting pitcher has been out of action at least 1 time, Kim and Mikolas twice! As far as the starting line up 4 players have missed 10 days or more. Two of them out twice(Bader and O'Neill), and Harrison Bader still undetermined when he gets back. Okay, NO, I am not blaming all the woes on the injury. Not at all. I am saying it is a contributing factor.

Here are just a few quick facts.

  • Cardinals longest winning streak is 6, longest losing streak 6.

  • They have been shut out 5 times. They have shut out 8 opponents.

  • They have 3 walk off wins, while 0 walk-off loses a 3-1 in extra-inning games.

Web capture from St Louis Cardinal Website

So why are 5-11 in June! I just went over the MASH unit St Louis has.

Now let's look at the on-the-field issuers.

There is no doubt that the Cardinals have been wildly consistent, and that is being slightly generous.

Pitching has been a primary concern from the start.

Jack Flaherty via Getty Images

It started in the off-season when fans looked at what the rotation could be. It is hard to imagine that the front office was not at least slightly concerned. It is not like they needed a #1 starter. We had that in Flaherty. With questions surrounding Mikolas, Martinez, and even Kim (because of the short sample size the year before) and with money saved on the deal for Arenado, it seemed as if the Cardinals had the ability to make a trade for a veteran or sign a lower cost-free agent. They did sign Adam Wainwright as a free agent, but one would have thought they would have done more to get insurance arm(s).

John Gant via Justin Berl-getty images

The pitching has been discussed at nausea, starters not going deep into ball games( John Gant 13GS-4.73IP/G, Kwang Hyun Kim 10GS-4.6IP/G, Johan Oviedo 7GS-4.37IP/G, Ponce de Leone 2GS-3.1IP/G).

Tyler Webb via Jeff Curry-AP

High Walk rate; Webb 10.4/9 Gant-6.4/9, Reyes-7.9/9, Fernandez-6.4/9, Ponce de Leone-4.9/9, Helsley-5.2/9, Woodford-5.2/9, Oviedo-4.6/9, Cabrera-4.6/9, and Miller-4.0/9.

Then there is the issue of the relief corps allowing inherited runners to score. Elledge 7 of 9 78% IRS, Woodford 15 of 24 63% IRS, Webb 10 of 20 50% IRS, Cabrera 10 of 20 50% IRS, Whitley 5-11 45% IRS. That adds up to 47 of 84 Inherited Runners Scoring by FIVE pitchers! Look at that number again 47 inherited Runners Scored in 70 games. Using that average, by the end of the season, the relief staff will allow 108 IRS. And that is only FIVE pitchers. Of course, Webb is gone, and others like Elledge have been sent down. But it is a scary thought.

Here are some positives

Adam Wainwright via Patric Semansky-AP

Adam Wainwright is averaging 6.12 IP/GS with a walk rate of 2.5

Giovanny Gallegos in 30 games=37.2IP - 2.15 ERA with a 1.9-BB/9 and a 10.5-k/9. 2 of 20 IRS 20%opp BA/OPS 0.67/0.67

Ryan Helsley via Joe Robinson-getty imges

Ryan Helsley in the last two weeks in six games 1-1, 6.1IP, 2.84ERA, opponent BA/OPS .136/.174, 1 of 15- 7% IRS,

Andrew Miller via Stacy Revere-getty imagres

Andrew Miller, since coming off of the IL Five games 6.1IP, 2BB, 6Ks, 73% strikes, 0.00ERA, No Inherited runners have scored.

Wade LeBlanc two Games 3.1IP0.00ERA, Opp BA/OPS .167/.231

Alex Reyes five Games 1-1 w/ 2SV, 6.1IP, 3BB, 6Ks, 2.25ERA, Opp BA/OPS .083/.207

Let's look at the offense.

Tyler O'Neill via Jeff Curry - getty images

Looking at hitters with at least 100 ABs, Six players are hitting 260 or better.

O'Neill .277, Sosa .267, Arenado .266, Molina .263, Carlson .263, Edman .260

Others with 100ABs Goldschmidt .245, Carpenter .179, DeJong .168, Williams .160

others on the bench or IL; Jose .231, Harrison Bader .219, Knizner .200, Thomas .106.

Vs. Right Hand pitching St. Louis as a team is batting .222/.292/.368,

vs. Left Hand pitching St. Louis as a team is batting .249/.325/.419.

The Cardinals are hitting poorly with RISP .229/.325/.395

Another thing is bench production; the best way to describe it is abysmal. Currently

Starters this year .234/.303/.389, subs .123/.243/.213.

Finding a bench bat or two is also a need. The Cardinals hoped that Justin Williams or Lane Thomas could do it as a 4th outfielder and backup catcher, Andrew Knizner. Even Matt Carpenter was penciled to provide some offense from the bench. While he has come on of late, they still need more.

Nolan Arenado via Jeff Roberson -AP

In the last 14 days the Cardinals are batting .213/.283/.316. Some notable drop offs Arenado .224/.269/.327, Carlson .208/.300/.28., Edman .204/.204/.315, Molina .176/.300/.176, Sosa .225/.262/.300.

Matt Carpenter via Wallpaper cave

Now things are looking up for a few guys in the last 14 games.

Carpenter .267/.421/.367, BAbip .381, 7 RBIs.

O'Neill .265/.333/.561, BAbip .370, 3HRs 7RBIs.

Goldschmidt .260/.327/.420, BAbip .306, 2HRs 5RBIs.

Arenado, for all his hitting woes, has driven in 8RBIs.

So what is the answer here? People want to fire Shildt, Alberts, and Maddox.

Jeff Albert via MLB

Of those three, the one to me who is in the most danger would be Albert. I am not saying that Albert is why Arenado is hitting .224 in the last 14 games with only 1 HR. Nolan is an accomplished veteran. He should not need a hitting coach to make him hit better.

The same with Goldy, Molina even Carpenter. These guys have been around. THEY KNOW how to hit the ball. What Albert is responsible for is the hitting philosophy. With Baseball embracing analytics for all the stat nerds, I think too much old-school thinking has gone away from the game. Guys like Billy Bean and Jeff Albert push that as the new age. At the same time, some analytics have their places like Launch Angle or even Barrel Percentage.

Launch Angle, for example, can turn a line drive out into a hit in the gap just by changing a degree or two. Or an inch or so closer to the barrel turns that pop up into a deep sac fly, or that foul to the right into a double down the line. So I get that analytics can be helpful but emphasizing things like exit velocity. The ball does not need to come off the bat at 110MPH to get a hit.

This is where old school is the better way, and my example is the shift. If you have 5 defenders to the right of 2B and only 2 on the left, How hard you hit the ball to the right will probably make a quicker out. Why not hit the ball to the left side where you have room. Just drop the bat head and dump it to the left. Hell, Matt Carpenter got a double on a bunt! This is where I see Albert's system as a problem. Suppose they do fire Albert, which could happen by the All-Star break if hitting does not improve. They need to make a clean break with his version of analytics and find someone with a more mixed approach.

Mike Maddux via AP

I do not see Maddux being fired with some of what we see out of guys like Helsley, Miller, Oviedo. What needs to be done with the pitching is to ditch a guy like Woodford, bring in a solid inning arm from outside. The same goes for the rotation.

Carlos Martinez is not an effective starter. You can bring in a starter. It does not have to be a #1 a #2. A solid every 5th-day #3 would work. If you could bring two middle rotation guys, you could put Gant in the pen where I think he is more valuable. You could even find an LH starter and put Kim in the bullpen. Mostly, it is a mixture of guys pitching outside of their roles like Gant as a starter and Woodford or Webb pitching in high leverage situations because of lack of options.

Mike Shildt via Ross Franklin-AP

Firing Mike Shildt serves no purpose other than an attempt to scare players, which might work but usually does not. Between Shildt, Clapp, Warner, Marmol, Maddux, and McGee, you have over 150 years of baseball experience and knowledge. Most of the younger guys like DeJong, Bader, Carlson, Helsley, Ponce de Leone, Edman, Sosa, and others have played under either: Shildt, Warner, or Clapp minors at one time or another and have been successful.

If the Redbirds can stay within 4-6 games of the lead At the break, look and see what they can pick up. The chances are good they can compete. For some fans, that is reasonable. For others, they will say the organization doesn't care. Wrong they care because winning teams make money, and baseball is a business to make money. Some doubt the front office is good enough to make the right moves. Wrong again, This front office made the deal 5 years ago for O'Neill knowing he was something special. They pulled to outstanding trades in the last two years for Goldschmidt and Arenado. Not to say they are perfect, but they are looking, talking, scouting, not just for a deal but the right deal.

Bear in mind that at least in terms of pitching, The cardinals need to think of next year as well as this year, as the only guarantees in the rotation Will be Flaherty and Dakota Hudson. After that, it is a bunch of question marks. Acquiring another bat for the bench may not be as hard, as you don't need a long-term signing. However, it would help if you still had the right fit for the rest of the team. My guess would be Outfield unless they want to use Lars Nootbarr or Scott Hurst. If not outfield, then a utility player. Don't look for them to sign a starter unless it can create a bat for the bench.

Thanks for reading

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