Bernie’s Daily Redbird Review: An 0-3 Start To The Road Trip Exposes Flaws That Weren’t Addressed At The Trade Deadline.

The Daily Redbird Review:

When the front office declined to make a trade to help a needy Cardinals team at the trade deadline, the risk of consequences was high, and real. Especially for a weakened rotation.

Welcome to the repercussions.

After getting routed 8-0 by the Dodgers on Monday night, the Cardinals are now 1-4 since the trade deadline passed. And they’ve been outscored 20-5 in three consecutive losses to Oakland and Los Angeles.

FIRST PITCH: The Dodger demolition on the visiting Cardinals on Monday night in LA  quickly became a no-contest, with Cardinals’ starter Michael Wacha getting strafed for a three-run homer by Cody Bellinger in the first inning. The Dodgers kept piling on after that, and the gaunt Cardinals lineup could do nothing with Dodgers rookie starter Tony Gonsolin, who shut them down for six innings, giving up two hits and a walk while striking out seven. Absolutely embarrassing.

With the loss, the Cardinals dropped to 58-53, and trail the first-place Cubs by 2 and ½ games.

The Cardinals have lost six of their last eight.

They are 3-5 since their 7-1 road trip to Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.

They are 3-6 during an 11-game stretch against the Astros, Cubs, A’s and Dodgers.

CARDS KILLER: Let’s go with Gonsolin, who made the Cardinals look silly in his second big-league start. The visitors didn’t get a hit until Kolten Wong’s two-out double in the fifth. Before Wong got to him, Gonsolin retired 13 of the first 14 batters faced with four strikeouts and a walk.

BASEBALL HERO: Let me sum it up with a lyric from the Metallica song, Slither: “There ain’t no heroes here, no, no more.”

BLAME GAME: There’s a ton of fertilizer blame to spread around. But Wacha joined the procession of bad starts on this road trip, lasting only 3 and ⅔ innings, getting punished for seven hits, two homers and two walks. In 15 starts this season Wacha has a 5.52 ERA and 6.06 FIP> He’s been clubbed for 17 homers in only 76 and ⅔ innings. As a starter, Wacha has allowed a .370 onbase percentage and a .529 slugging percentage. His strikeout-walk ratio is an abysmal 1.6.

It’s sad. Watching the first couple of innings last night, I couldn’t help but think of the rookie Michael Wacha who dominated the Dodgers twice, outdueling Clayton Kershaw twice, in the 2013 NLCS.

TURNING POINT: Cody Bellinger go boom on Wacha’s 14th pitch of the game.

HEY, YOU DID GOOD: Wong was 1-for-3, with that double. And in his 21 games since the All-Star break Wong is batting .362 with a .901 OPS. Factoring in his speed, and his exquisite MLB-best defense at second base, it’s easy to make the case for Wong being the Cardinals’ best all-around player.

In his first appearances since being recalled from Memphis, reliever Ryan Helsley, did a nice job of saving the bullpen by working three innings. He allowed one hit and worked around four walks. That’s too many walks, yes. But the point is, Helsley’s performance gave the Cardinals a fresh bullpen for tonight’s game at Dodger Stadium.

LOOK, YOU NEED TO DO BETTER: Where do we start?

1. In losing three in a row to Oakland and Los Angeles, Cardinals starting pitchers Dakota Hudson, Adam Wainwright and Wacha provided only 12 and ⅔ combined innings, getting mashed for an 8.53 ERA. The three starters combined to allow a .346 average, .470 onbase percentage and .577 slug. Ugly. Cards’ starting pitchers have the worst road ERA in the National League at 5.63; that ranks 28th in the majors. But what did we expect? This has been a corrosive flaw all season, and management did nothing to fix it.

2. The Cardinals offense is a whisper right now. In their last nine games they’re scored 24 total runs, an average of 2.6 per game. They’re 12-for-72, a .167 average, with runners in scoring position. The Cardinals have scored more than two runs in only two of their last eight games.

Their plate discipline has eroded; over the last nine games the Cards have struck out 26.5 percent of the time with a poor walk rate of 5.5 percent.

3. Paul Goldschmidt is 2-for-10 without an RBI over the last three games … Matt Carpenter is 1-for-9 with three strikeouts and no walks since retrurning from his minor-league rehab assignment … though he’s walked three times, Marcell Ozuna is 1-for-9 since returning from the injured list.

SECOND GUESSING SHILDTY: Unfortunately, the manager has traveled back into Candy Land, praising players after poor performances and trying to tell us that we actually didn’t see what we just saw. After Wacha’s terrible outing Monday night, Shildt repeatdedly told reporters that Wacha had, quote, Good Stuff. He added, “as good of stuff as we’ve seen in a while.”

Sure, Shildty.

You betcha.

Wacha was fantastic.

I suppose we just imagined that he gave up two homers and seven hits and six runs while retiring only 11 batters.

Hey, I enjoy these visits to Candy Cane Forest and Gumdrop Mountain … and to see one of my all-time favorite Candy Land characters, Gramma Nutt … part of a happy childhood.

GOOD MOVE SHILDTY: I’m drawing a blank.

BREATHLESS: The Dodgers are 75-40, and 44-15 at home. Isn’t it interesting how the organization never runs out of elite prospects? Isn’t it interesting how the Dodgers can trade for major-league help but rarely give up their better prospects?

TRACKING THE CUBS: Chicago has won four in a row after going 1-2 at Busch Stadium last week. But injuries are an issue for the division leader. All-Star catcher Willson Contreras (.525 slugging pct.) will miss four weeks with a strained hamstring. Closer Craig Kimbrel was placed on the IL with knee inflammation. (But Kimbrel hasn’t good at his job, so … ) And during Monday’s 6-5 win over Oakland — what, the A’s are beatable? — reliever Brandon Kintzler had to leave the game with “pectoral discomfort.” His status is unclear. But at least the Cubs made some moves for bullpen depth before the trade deadline. And reliever Pedro Strop (neck) should be back from the IL next week.

“We pride ourselves on next guy up,” Cubs starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks said in addressing the Chicago media after Monday’s victory. “We know we have guys that can pick up the slack.”

The Cubs are 12-2 in their last 14 home games. They’re astonishingly good at Wrigley Field this season (40-18) and astonishingly bad on the road (21-33.)

Yeah, the Friendly Confines.

After two more games against Oakland in Wrigleyville, the Cubs embark on a 10-game, three-city road trip that takes them to Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Quickie note: in his first five games as a Cub since being acquired July 31, corner outfielder Nick Castellanos is batting .400 and slugging .700 with a homer, three doubles and three RBIs.

TRACKING THE BREWERS: Milwaukee’s tattered rotation was struck again Monday when RHP Zach Davies was placed on the 10-day IL with lower-back spasms. The Brewers, having to cycle in fresh arms, have recalled relievers Jake Faria and Devin Williams from Triple A San Antonio.

Davies joins fellow rotation members Brandon Woodruff (strained oblique) and Jhoulys Chacin (strained lat) on the IL. A fourth starter, Gio Gonzalez,  who spent a month on the IL with a sore shoulder,  is dealing with shoulder tightness and had to be held back for several days to get physically ready for Saturday’s start at Wrigley Field.

With Davies scratched from his scheduled start Wednesday at Pittsburgh, manager Craig Counsell will go with a “bullpen game” and use a sequence of relievers to cover the innings.

Devin Williams was considered a rising prospect in the Brewers’ system until getting sidetracked by injuries. He has a 2.53 ERA in a 2019 season split between Class AA and AAA. The Brewers need bullpen reinforcements, so Williams and Faria make sense.

Faria, 26, is an interesting addition. He came to Milwaukee on July 31 in the trade that sent slumping first baseman Jesus Aguilar to Tampa Bay.  Faria was a good starter for the Rays in 2018, pitching to a 3.42 ERA in 16 starts. But Faria couldn’t repeat that success this season; a decline in his strikeout-walk ratio led to a 5.57 ERA in 12 starts –followed by a demotion to Triple A Durham. But Faria could get an opportunity to help settle the Crew’s chaotic rotation.

Two other quickie Brewers notes: (1) after being acquired from Pittsburgh in the days leading to the trade deadline, RH starting pitcher Jordan Lyles has allowed two earned runs in 10 innings in his first two starts for Milwaukee. And (2) after homering one time over a 12-game stretch, Christian Yelich has blasted three home runs in his last two games. In Monday’s 9-7 at Pittsburgh, Yelich stirred a dormant Brewers offense with a 4-for-5 game highlighted by two solo homers. Yelich has 39 homers, 84 runs batted in, a .336 average, .428 OBP and .705 slugging percentage this season. His 6.4 WAR is tied with Cody Bellinger for No. 1 among National League players.

TRACKING THE NL WILD-CARD RACE: The top two spots are held by Philadelphia (59-53) and Washington (59-53) with the Cardinals a half-game back. Then it’s Milwaukee (58-56, two games behind.) But the New York Mets (57-56) are creating the most buzz, having won 11 of their last 12 and 17 of 22 to move within 2.5 games of the second wild-card spot. During their 17-5 push the Mets have an excellent team ERA of 2.68.

CARDINALS-DODGERS,  ON DECK: It’s Miles Mikolas vs. Clayton Kershaw at 9:10 p.m. STL time. on Tuesday night. Kershaw is 10-2 with a 2.85 ERA this season and has a 1.74 ERA in his last five starts.

Mikolas has a 6.75 road ERA this season. And keep an eye on this: when he pitches on the road, LH batters have crushed Mikolas for six homers, a .400 onbase percentage and .604 slug.

The Dodgers’ lefthanded hitters lead have slammed 114 homers this season and are slugging .513. As a group, and compared to other MLB lefthanded swinging delegations, the Dodgers’ LH bats are the best in the majors at 26 percent above league average offensively in wRC+.

Thanks for reading …

— Bernie