Remember Mother’s Day? I surely do. My younger brother graduated from college and afterwards my family and I got to recognize two of my favorite women in the world (my mom and wife). I also remember Mother’s Day because the Cardinals had just taken 2 of 3 from the defending champion Chicago Cubs. Adam Wainwright pitched a gem in a 5-0 victory on Sunday May 14th. I watched my brother cross the stage to get his Bachelor’s Degree – but most of the graduation I was connected to WiFi watching the Cardinals take the rubber game from the Cubs(mom approved as she was watching closely as well). There’s nothing like sitting through a 2 hour ceremony for about 60 seconds of action, but family is family. The Cards finished the day at 21-15 and in first place in the N.L. Central. It seemed like they were starting to figure it out after a slow start to the season.
To say the “wheels have come off” might be the understatement of the year. The Cards are now 26-28 – having gone 5-13 since that weekend – punctuated by the Cubs sweep of the Cardinals this weekend at Wrigley Stadium (as Nascar driver Jeff Gordon once called it). Just a quick rewind here – the Cards started the season 3-9, shortly thereafter went on a 18-6 run, and have now gone 5-13. I guess this means the Cardinals are primed for another big winning run right? Doubtful. What’s more upsetting for the Cardinals/the rest of the National League – the Cubs now seem to be pointed in the right direction after hovering for the first two months of the season. The National League will have to send the Cardinals a “Thank You for awaking the Champs” card.
While there have been many different problems this season with the 2017 Cardinals (defense, baserunning, bullpen implosions, etc.) it seems like the biggest problem is their lack of hitting. Guys like Matt Carpenter, Dexter Fowler, Stephen Piscotty, and Aledmys Diaz need to do more for the Cardinals to be the team they want to be. Young guys like Magneuris Sierra (never had a hitless game in the majors with a 8 game hitting streak while batting .375 in 8 games) and Paul Dejong who has hit around .300 in 8 games as well have given the Cardinals a jolt, but it’s really up to the big money guys to lead the Cardinals.
The Cardinals are ⅓ of the way done with their season. While there are still over 100 games left to play, the term “small sample size” or “it’s still early” aren’t something that can be thrown around as easily anymore. The Cardinals have 25 more games until the calendar flips to July. After looking at the rest of the games for the month there’s nothing that really jumps out on the schedule. They have 13 road games and 12 home games. They have 6 games against Philadelphia this month – while 11 of their 25 games come against Central Division opponents. 56% of their games come against teams who currently have a worse record than they do, while 44% of their games come against teams who currently have a better record than they do. The Cardinals June schedule is much like the 2017 Cardinals – “it is what it is”. While a weekend like the Cardinals just completed makes it easy to want to write them off – it’s not that easy. There’s still way too much baseball (probably maddening) to be played by the Cardinals. The Cardinals – who are 2.5 games out of first could be in first place by the weekend or last place. Only 4 games separate first from last in the N.L. Central.
It will be interesting to see how the roster looks at the start of July. Gone are Matt Adams, Miguel Socolovich, Jonathan Broxton, Randal Grichuk (who may be back if the warm Florida sun does him well), and Kolten Wong (D.L). Look for the roster to keep evolving with Jhonny Peralta (I think he’s gone once Wong is back) conceivably on his last leg, and the Cardinals bullpen still trying to sort things out. There are guys in the minor league system who can help the team IF they’re allowed to help. At some point the Cardinal need to figure out who they are, or they’ll keep disappointing all the way from summer into fall.