Your Daily Redbird Review…
Can anyone save the Cardinals?
FIRST PITCH: The Cardinals were embarrassed by the Cubs again at Wrigley Field, getting swept in the three games and squeaking through a feeble performance during the weekend series. The Cardinals are 0-6 at Wrigley Field this season.
Hey, but it’s been worse. The 2006 team lost its first seven games played at Wrigley Field that season in going 2-8 against the Cubs on the road.
On the other hand, this has been going on for far too long. Since Joe Maddon became Chicago’s manager in 2015, the Cubs are 31-15 against the Cardinals at Wrigley, including two wins in the ‘15 NLDS.
With the latest free fall, the Cardinals are 31-32 on the season, and now trail the Cubs and Brewers by 5 and ½ in the NL Central. The Cardinals have the National League’s worst road record at 11-19. The Cardinals have — good grief — are 3-13 on the road in the last 16 games.
Since jumping out to a 20-10 start to the season — the best record in the majors at the time — the Cardinals have lost twice as many games as they’ve won, going 11-22. The team is 1-8-2 in its last 11 series overall, and 1-6-1 in road series since winning a two-game set at Pittsburgh on April 1 and 3.
CARDS KILLER: Kyle Schwarber owned Cardinals pitchers over the weekend, going 4 for 7 with two walks, two doubles, a homer, four runs batted in and three runs scored. And the Cubs have won the last 10 games started by Kyle Hendricks against the Cardinals. Hendricks has a 2.31 ERA over the 10 starts vs. St. Louis.
BASEBALL HERO: The visiting team did not qualify for this award.
BLAME GAME: Where do we start? The Cardinals offense scored six runs in three games spanning 27 innings. But keep in mind that the Cardinals scored four of those six runs in the first inning Saturday … meaning that the Cardinals scored only two runs in the other 26 innings of this series. Over the three games the Cardinals batted .186, had a weak .545 OPS, walked on only 5 percent of their plate appearances and had a strikeout rate of 29 percent.
Cardinals starting pitchers Miles Mikolas, Jack Flaherty and Adam Wainwright combined for only 12 innings, and were popped for 10 runs and a 7.50 ERA. Mikolas had to leave Friday’s game early after being struck on the right forearm by a batted ball. Wainwright had to leave Sunday’s start after 4 and ⅓ innings because of a tight hamstring. But Mikolas and Wainwright did not pitch well.
Flaherty handing back an early 4-0 lead on Saturday night may have been his poorest start in the majors given the timing, his talent and increased experience. Three walks? C’mon, mang.
TURNING POINT: You just had that uneasy feeling watching Cubs starter Cole Hamels mesmerize the Cardinals for eight shutout innings on Friday. Was it going to be that kind of weekend for the visitors? The answer: Yes.
HEY, YOU DID GOOD: You know who’s really good? Reliever Giovanny Gallegos. He got into two of the games, gave up only two hits with no walks and no runs in 3 and ⅔ innings. The bullpen wasn’t very good at Wrigley — but Gallegos was excellent.
Marcell Ozuna had a massive three-run homer in the first inning to recharge the Cards’ batteries, but the surge didn’t last. The Cardinals went back into their funk after taking a 4-0 lead.
LOOK, YOU NEED TO DO BETTER: Dexter Fowler had a terrible series, going 1 for 8 with five strikeouts. On top of that, he was careless on the bases, getting picked off first base on Friday. The Fowler situation is a problem. Since May 15, he’s batting .141 with a weak .564 OPS with a strikeout rate of 30 percent. And in his last 30 games Fowler is hitting .180 with a strikeout rate of 29%.
Paul Goldschmidt doubled Sunday night. I bring this up for a reason. It was his first double since May 9 … about a month ago… seriously, how does that happen? Goldy is slugging only .396 since April 6.
SECOND-GUESSING SHILDTY: Does Fowler have a starting job for life? At what point does winning take priority over the manager’s desire to be the nicest guy in the world in his dealings with a struggling player? When does the determination to win transcend concerns over a player’s feelings? This is a bizarre situation. This is a bizarre team.
So I guess it makes sense.
GOOD MOVE SHILDTY: I can’t think of anything … except that he’s starting to display more candor and straightforward honesty in his assessments of his team. And that’s overdue. Perhaps players will get the idea that they’ll be held accountable for performance — except Fowler, of course.
BREATHLESS: Since the second day of May, the Cardinals have lost acres of ground in the standings. They’ve lost 9 and ½ games in the standings to the Cubs and 8 and ½ games in the standings to the Brewers.
ON DECK: The Cardinals continue on their 10-game road by opening a three-game series at Miami tonight, 6:10 first pitch STL time. Michael Wacha is back in the rotation — but of course he is! — with his 6.30 ERA. He’ll face Sandy Alacantara on Monday. Alcantara was one of the prospects sent to the Marlins for Ozuna. The rookie Alacantara struggles with control and doesn’t strike out many hitters, which is surprising. But that said, Alcantara has 0.7 WAR. Only one Cardinals starting pitcher has more Wins Above Replacement: Jack Flaherty at 0.8. By the way: since May 2 the Marlins have a better record (14-19) than the Cardinals (11-22.) Yikes.
Thanks for reading…