Bernie’s Daily Redbird Review: Bad Pitching, Sleepy Offense. This Is What A 3-11 Slump Looks Like

Your Daily Redbird Review…

FIRST PITCH: Since we didn’t do a Review yesterday, I think it’s best to talk about the last two nights in Atlanta. After beating up Braves pitchers in the series-opening 14-3 win, the Cardinals went nighty-night at the plate over the last two games, getting shutout 4-0 on Wednesday and losing 10-2 on Thursday night. In the last two games of the Atlanta series the Cardinals scored two total runs in 69 plate appearances, batting .155 with a .259 slugging percentage. They had nine total hits, seven of which were singles, over 18 innings.

The Cardinals have lost 11 of their last 14 games to fall to 23-21 on the season. They’re 3.5 games behind the first-place Cubs and 3 games in back of the second-place Brewers. Milwaukee, by the way, completed a four-game sweep at Philadelphia yesterday and is 15-6 since losing three in a row in St. Louis in late April.

BASEBALL HERO: There were none, really.

BLAME GAME I: Well, the offense is in the snooze mode. During this ugly 3-11 slide, the Cardinals have scored 59 total runs. But keep in mind that 31 of the runs came in two games: the 17-4 home win over the Pirates, and the 14-3 win in the first Atlanta game. Other than that, the Cardinals have scored only 28 runs in the other 12 games. And they’ve been held to two runs or fewer in nine of the 12 games.

BLAME GAME II: The other issue of course is pitching. The Cardinals have a 4.95 ERA (entire staff) during the bad run of losing baseball that began May 2nd. That ranks 11th in the National League over that time.

TURNING POINT: The Cardinals aren’t jumping out to quick leads as much as you’d like to see, especially with an offense that’s capable of scoring a bunch of runs to take control early. The Cardinals have led after the first inning only seven times in 44 games, and are 5-2 when it happens. Let’s stretch this out a bit.

The Cardinals have trailed (20 times) or been tied (seven times) after the third inning in 27 of their 44 games. Their pitchers have allowed 77 runs in the first three innings of games this season, third most in the NL.

During their 3-11 funk the Cardinals have scored in the first inning only twice in 14 games.

HEY,   YOU  DID  GOOD: Kolten Wong wasn’t hitting much for a time but is beginning to reheat. In his last seven games he’s batting .320 with a .390 onbase percentage and .520 slug. He went 4 for 10, with a homer, in the three games against the Braves … and just a positive word on right-handed reliever Giovanny Gallegos: in his last 12 relief appearances Gallegos has a 40 percent strikeout rate with a 2.74 fielding independent (FIP) ERA.

LOOK, YOU NEED TO  DO  BETTER: Adam Wainwright was terrible in Thursday’s start, lasting only four innings and allowing five hits, five walks, and five earned runs.

Wainwright cannot pitch effectively on the road.

This season he has a 6.75 ERA in five road starts.

This is nothing new.

In 38 road starts since since the beginning of 2016, Wainwright has a 6.51 ERA and has been pounded for a .301 average, .371 onbase percentage, and .519 slugging percentage. And that comes with a poor 17.4 percent strikeout rate and a bloated 9 percent walk rate.

Wainwright isn’t alone. This season Cardinals starting pitchers have a hideous 5.69 ERA on the road which ranks 28th in the majors and 14th among the 15 NL teams.

Here’s the road FIP for each starter:

Michael Wacha,   4.81

Jack Flaherty,   5.20

Miles Mikolas,    5.78

Adam Wainwright,    6.54

Dakota Hudson,   7.00

WAINWRIGHT  PART  II:  Since the start of the 2016 season,  LH batters have faced Waino 836 times. And they’ve hit .298 with a .369 OBP and .477 slug against him. This season Waino has gone against LH batters 93 times; they’re hitting .329 with a .402 OBP and booming .633 slug. Against LH bats this season Wainwright has a low 14% strikeout rate and a high 12% walk rate.

But again, Waino is not alone here.

As a group, the Cardinals’ starting pitching has been battered by LH hitters this season. The .538 slugging percentage by LH batters against the STL rotation is the second highest against any MLB rotation; the LHB onbase percentage of .374 is the third highest against an MLB rotation.

But just remember: everything is fine!

Nothing to worry about here.

(So says the STL sports media, the Cards’ front office and the manager/coaches.) 

SECOND  GUESSING  SHILDTY: I don’t think the manager has to panic just because his team has lost 11 of 14. But making some changes in the lineup, rotation and bullpen doesn’t really qualify as panicking. I’d call that smart managing. And Shildt is a smart manager. Make some tweaks.

GOOD   MOVE   SHILDTY: On the flip side of what I just mentioned, it’s never smart to make changes in a response to silly criticism. An example: Dexter Fowler. There’s been an unusual amount of fan whining over Shildt’s decision to play Fowler in center field over fan-favorite Harrison Bader. That mewling is absolutely unjustified. In his last 30 games Fowler is batting .323 with a superb .432 onbase percentage and .462 slug for an .895 OPS. And Fowler is playing very, very well in center field — ranking fifth in the majors at the position with five Defensive Runs Saved.

Fowler has 1.2 fWAR, tied for second among Cardinals with Kolten Wong.

Paul DeJong has 2.9 fWAR. That’s third-best in the majors behind Cody Bellinger (3.8) and Christian Yelich (3.1.)

BREATHLESS: This is unreal, but the Cardinals have the second-worst record (4-11) in the National League and third-worst record in the majors since the end of April.

ON DECK: Cardinals open a three-game series in Arlington tonight at 7:05 p.m. Mikes Mikolas, Dakota Hudson and Jack Flaherty will start the three games against the Texas Rangers (in that order.)

Should be a challenging series for the pitchers on both teams. We’ve already mentioned the Cards’ lousy pitching on the road. But what about Texas at home? The Rangers’ starting pitchers have a 5.06 ERA in home games this season (24th overall) and a staff ERA of 5.23 (25th overall.) Offensively Texas hitters have a .790 OPS and .459 OPS at home.

Thanks for reading… have a wonderful weekend.

-Bernie