As the Cardinals go into Minnesota tomorrow for game 2… One thing has to be clear…
Back up your pitchers
Going into the season, the biggest “weakness” for the Cardinals was arguably the pitching staff. There were question marks surrounding both the rotation and the bullpen, but so far, pitching has not been the problem. In fact, it’s the only thing keeping the Cardinals in contention.
(MLB RANKS going into 5/15)
ERA – 3.35 (3rd)
Quality Starts – 22 (T-7th)
Opposing Slugging Percentage – .353 (2nd)
Opposing OPS – .673 (6th)
Opposing HR – 29 (1st)
Opposing total bases – 468 (2nd)
From the looks of this, we shouldn’t have much to worry about from the pitching staff. However there are a few alarming stats that we should also address.
Strikeouts – 316 (26th)
Walks – 138 (14th)
Hit by Pitch – 22 (3rd most)
Save percentage – 62.50 (16th)
In an evolving game where batters are striking out more than ever, Cardinals pitchers haven’t played to big a part. Cards pitching also has put a lot of men on base via a Hit by Pitch led by Carlos Martinez who currently leads the Majors with 9 HBP. In many statistics the Cardinals find themselves in the middle of the pack or better, and they give themselves a chance to win. They have benefited greatly from bargain signings in the form of Miles Mikolas and Bud Norris who have been arguably two of the best off-season signings in all of baseball. Mikolas currently leads the league in strike percentage, BB/9, and SO/W. Norris has blossomed with the club, becoming the teams closer after some initial struggles from Greg Holland. While many believe that Holland will eventually take over the role, I believe it should be Norris’s job to lose.
Games like today make it tough to put the loss on a pitcher. Yes, the bullpen struggled… But the offense couldn’t keep them in the game, mustering just two hits and a run. Unfortunately, the team has been struggling offensively since the season began.
Runs – 163 (25th)
Hits – 296 (29th)
2B – 49 (29th)
HR – 49 (13th)
Total Bases – 496 (28th)
BA – .230 (25th)
OPS – .701 (25th)
SO – 343 (17th)
Walks – 147 (9th)
SB% – 57.58 (28th)
As you can see, the Cardinals are having a tough time putting Runners on base. It doesn’t help that whenever they get on base, they haven’t been effective stealing bags. They have a tough time manufacturing runs, so a large amount of their runs scored have been from the long ball. It is interesting to note that while strikeouts are at an all-time high, the Cardinals actually rank in the middle of the pack. It’s still not good, but it could be worse.
I’ll be frank here. The Cardinals simply have not hit well. They have cost themselves a few games by simply not getting runs across. The pitching staff isn’t perfect. The starters as well as the relievers are going to have some tough times, but on nights that they are good, the Cardinals need to step up and score some runs. Otherwise this season is going to feel even longer than it is.
Guys like Matt Carpenter, Dexter Fowler, and Kolten Wong have been some of the names that have struggled thus far. I personally believe that each of their averages will sort themselves out, but it certainly begs the question… Are they going to lose reps. Harrison Bader has played extremely well thus far during his time in the Outfield. Defensively he’s one of the best outfielders in our system and offensively he is solid. With Fowler struggling the way he is, expect Bator to get some more consistent playing time. I like Matt Carpenter, I really do, but so far this season he seems off. at this point I can’t see why the Cardinals will not keep going with Wong at 2nd and Gyorko at 3rd. Although Wong has not hit well either, he presents himself as a better defensive presence at 2nd and Gyorko has been a solid defender and hitter thus far.
At the end of the day the Cardinals go into May 16th with a 22-17 record. If the Cardinals want to continue success, they need to start putting more runs on the board. If the pitching staff falters, the season may not go well for the Cardinals.
What do you think? Feel free to comment on Facebook and let me know!
Twitter – @AaronArchCity