As the St. Louis Cardinals finished out the month of April, they were on top of the world. They had the best record in Major League Baseball sitting at 20-10 and they had a 3.0 game lead over Chicago in the NL Central. The offense was clicking and the bullpen had been showing some legitimate promise. Despite the rotation still having question marks, the Cardinals were in a good spot.
And then there was May. The Cardinals do still have one more game left to close out the month, but they have currently been on a skid of 6 wins and 18 losses. They now sit 5.0 games back in the NL Central and are two games under .500. It’s been a rough month to say the least.
What’s the issue?
It would be a cop out answer to say everything… but in a way it’s been… everything. The offense has been essentially non-existant in the month of May. Take a look at our OPS leaders with at least 50 at bats.
Harrison Bader | .765
Paul Goldschmidt | .744
Paul DeJong | .739
Matt Carpenter | .721
Marcell Ozuna | .719
For the most part it’s the names you would expect at the top of the list, however their numbers are all lower than what we would like to see. It’s certainly the main cause of a 6-18 skid. The Cardinals had three games in which they scored 10 or more runs and in the three games following they scored 3 runs total. That is not a recipe for success.
As far as the rotation is concerned, we still have plenty of issues to work through. Michael Wacha has been demoted to the bullpen and for the most part the rotation has continued to struggle. Here’s where they stack up in May. Keep in mind this will change as Dakota Hudson will face Philadelphia today and Mikolas faces Chicago tomorrow.
Dakota Hudson – 5 GS | 29.1 IP | 3.07 ERA | 19 SO | 11 BB | .261 BAA | 1.40 WHIP
Jack Flaherty – 5 GS | 28.2 IP | 3.45 ERA | 29 SO | 14 BB | .186 BAA | 1.12 WHIP
Miles Mikolas – 5 GS | 28.1 IP | 4.13 ERA | 27 SO | 2 BB | .264 BAA | 1.09 WHIP
Adam Wainwright – 5 GS | 27.0 IP | 6.33 ERA | 24 SO | 11 BB | .284 BAA | 1.48 WHIP
Michael Wacha – 4 GS (5 G) | 21.1 IP | 8.86 ERA | 16 SO | 15 BB | .348 BAA | 2.16 WHIP |
Hudson and Flaherty have pitched better this month and Mikolas’ stats are inflated because of a blowup at Texas. Outside of that start, Mikolas has an ERA of 2.00, a WHIP of 0.81, and a BAA of .200. I’m not too concerned about Mikolas moving forward, however he will have a tough game coming up against the Cubs. As I mentioned, Wacha has pitched himself into the bullpen, and he didn’t so much for himself in his first relief outing. Wainwright might be the next to move out of the rotation despite some decent starts sprinkled in.
Alex Reyes is being groomed to return as a starter and Austin Gomber seems to be another leading candidate to get some work soon. Genesis Cabrera made his MLB debut last night as a starter and showed some promise, striking out 5 across 3.2 IP. I personally would have kept him in over Wacha, but I don’t get to make those calls. It’s still up in the air as to who get’s the next start in that spot next time through.
On the Bright Side
The Bullpen has continued to be a strength for the Cardinals. Out of all of their pitchers for the month of May in terms of ERA, their top 4 pitchers have been out of the bullpen. John Gant and John Brebbia have both continued to be spectacular while Andrew Miller has quietly put up a 2.25 ERA this month along with Carlos Martinez. Tyler Webb has also pitched well despite what most fans would lead you to believe. Giovanny Gallegos has a 3.91 ERA but is sporting just a 0.81 WHIP and a 3.18 FIP to go along with over 14 K/9.
They released Luke Gregerson (finally) and has seemed to get it together for the most part. One thing that is concerning is the struggles of Jordan Hicks. He hasn’t gotten to pitch much with the Cardinals seemingly being out of it every game, but he’s still struggled when he does get the ball.
Where do we go from here?
Personally I think this team will be fine. Statistically speaking it would be pretty difficult for them to actually play worse in the month of June. The offense certainly needs a spark. The pitching has not been “great” in the month of May, but they’ve kept them in plenty of games that could have been wins.
Do the Cardinals go after a starter near the deadline? I think it’s entirely possible. I’m sure they will give their own guys a shot first, but what happens if that doesn’t work? There are still plenty of questions moving forward but I think this month has shown the front office that they can’t be “comfortable” anymore. Thankfully for the Cardinals, the rest of the NL Central has continued to beat up on one another. This leaves them in a decent spot to make climb back into the race.
This season is far from over. I’m curious to see where it goes and optimistic about our chances. Maybe I’m a homer. I don’t really care if I am. I still see a team that is capable of winning, even if I haven’t seen much of it lately.
What are your thoughts? Send me a tweet @2BirdsOnAnArch and be looking out for more content here on Arch City Media as well as with Two Birds on a Bat and The Musial Suspects.
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