Bernie’s Redbird Review: The Cards Are In First Place. Will The Front Office Help Them Stay There?

The Daily Redbird Review for July 31, 2019 …

THE TRADE DEADLINE: With an obvious opportunity to grab a division title for the first time since 2015, the St. Louis front office must acquire an impact starter by today’s 3 p.m. (CST) MLB trade deadline.

A starter and a lefty reliever (or any good reliever) would go a long way in keeping the Cardinals atop the NL Central.

And if management does nothing of significance to upgrade this team for a fourth consecutive summer, then shame on the people who run the Cardinals.

FIRST PITCH: The Cardinals edged the Cubs 2-1 on Tuesday night to take a one-game lead over the second-place Cubs in the NL Central standings … the Brewers lost in 10 innings at Oakland to fall two games behind the Cardinals …

Let’s update the Cards’ warming-trend numbers:

10-3 in the last 13
13-5 since the All-Star break
16-8 in July
17-8 since June 30

And this: after a loss on June 9 the Cardinals were 31-32 and staring at their largest deficit of the season, trailing the Cubs and Brewers by 5 and ½ games in the NL Central.

Through Tuesday night, here are the three teams’ records since June 10:

Cardinals 27-17

Cubs 19-24

Brewers 18-25

With Tuesday’s loss, the Cubs are a horrid 20-32 on the road this season. That includes an 8-21 mark in their last 29 games away from Wrigley Field.

Another good stat from Jesse Rogers, who covers the Cubs for ESPN: since the All-Star break the Cubs have a record of only 9-7 despite having the lead in all 16 games.

BASEBALL HERO: Paul Goldschmidt was money again, driving a sixth-inning home run into the Cubs bullpen. A solo, game-winning shot. The desire to take the Cubs down was a reason to trade for Goldy.

This was Goldschmidt’s seventh homer in his last eight games, his 11th in July, and 25th of the season.

In 97 plate appearances this month the Goldschmidt is is batting .299 with a .713 slugging percentage and 1.067 OPS.

In addition to his 11 July homers, which are tied for the most in the NL this month, Goldschmidt has a league-leading 27 RBIs in July.

With one game remaining this is the best July of Goldschmidt’s career. He’s already posted his best July numbers for home runs, runs batted in, runs scored, slugging pct., and OPS (1.067.)

If Goldy can produce at least one RBI tonight, he’ll have his biggest RBI total for any month in his career.

We’re watching an eye-opening streak.

Consider:

From April 24 through July 4, a span of 62 games, Goldschmidt had only five homers, 12 RBIs and a .339 slug.

In his last 22 games, Goldy has 11 homers, 27 RBIs and is slugging .737.

It took a while, but Goldy is reaching solid-goldy status.

TURNING POINT: Top of the sixth, bases loaded, two outs, 1-1 tie, and Adam Wainwright tiring on the mound. Right then and there manager Mike Shildt made his most critical decision of the game, summoning righthanded reliever Giovanny Gallegos to confront Chicago’s lefthanded power hitter Kyle Schwarber.

Schwarber has a career .508 slugging percentage vs. righthanders.

No problem. Gallegos disposed of the threat by retiring Schwarber on a fly out. A few minutes later Goldschmidt struck the winning home run for the Cardinals.

It took an unsually and inexplicably long time for the Cardinals to recognize Gallegos’ effectiveness against LH batters. But once the Cardinals’ baseball people caught on and got up to speed, Shildt hasn’t hesitated to give “GG” the ball against dangerous lefthanded hitters.

In 80 plate appearances against Gallegos this season, LH batters are hitting .137 with an anemic .472 OPS. Gallegos has struck out 41.3 percent of LH batters this season. And that’s awesome by any measure — but especially for a RH pitcher.

In his last 24 relief appearances Gallegos has an ERA of 0.61 with a strikeout rate of 37 percent. During this tremendous stretch Gallegos has 39 strikeouts and only four walks for a preposterous K/BB ratio of 9.75.

HEY, YOU DID GOOD: It wasn’t just Gallegos that turned in a stellar performance out of the bullpen on Tuesday. GG was followed by Andrew Miller and Carlos Martinez, and this three-man rescue crew got the job done.

Gallegos, Miller and Martinez combined to throw 3 and ⅓ innings of scoreless, one-hit relief. Martinez was excellent in locking down a four-out save, striking out three of four batters faced.

Also:

1. Wainwright turned in a tone-setting, tough-minded start, holding the Cubs to a run in 5 and ⅔ bulldog innings. He lowered his home ERA to 2.26 in 59 and ⅔ innings at Busch this season.  Waino was on top of it last night. In command from the beginning until tapering off.

2. Second baseman Kolten Wong has been terrific since the beginning of June. In 171 plate appearances, .307 average, an outstanding .373 onbase percentage, and a .413 slug.

3. Leadoff hitter Tommy Edman had two hits and two stolen bases.

4. Catcher Matt Wieters nabbed Jason Heyward on an attempted steal in the sixth for a strikeout-throwout double play The Cubs threatened later in the inning, which required Gallegos to put out a fire. But who knows how the inning would have gone down if Wieters doesn’t come up with the quick-strike double play? Wieters has thrown out 50 percent of attempted stealers this season.

LOOK, YOU NEED TO DO BETTER: The Cardinals were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position in the opener against the Cubs. They’re 1-for-24 with RISP over the last three games … and 3-for-29 with RISP in their last four.

Pauly DeJong went 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position on Tuesday; it was part of a hitless, two-strikeout game.

SECOND GUESSING SHILDTY:  Hush. Nothing.

GOOD MOVE SHILDTY:  His bullpen maneuvering was exceptional. Again.

BREATHLESS:  Trade deadline!

ON DECK:  Miles Mikolas for the Cardinals vs. the Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks tonight at 7 …. for whatever it’s worth: In his two seasons with the Cardinals, Mikolas has a 2.16 ERA in 170 and ⅔ innings at Busch Stadium. That includes a 2.15 ERA in 67 innings this season. And Hendricks has a 4.91 ERA in 51 and ⅓ road innings this season.

Thanks for reading …

–Bernie