Not familiar with
Lots of random gut wrenching
Baseball game losses
The Cardinals season started out with a fantastic April, a team that would have several blow out wins to go along with a great win loss record. It lead the leagues in many categories, mainly hitting. But then along came May and June, and the team sustained injuries but seemed to have good fill ins/subs. But it all did not add up... often the bullpen has been the culprit, but there is something even more nefarious at foot: unequal run distribution.
Just as strikeouts are fascist, run distribution has its own form of inequality. The amount of runs an offense has mustered up for a particular game against particular pitching. I haven't seen too much rhyme or reason as to when the offense will be good, or when it will be bad (perhaps a whole new fanpost for someone to write/research). Instead, let's look at splits, and how many one run games the Cardinals have frequently, frustratingly, lost.
First off all, the Cardinals' hitters do not fare well on Saturdays, for some reason. I personally blame Fox, but I'm not sure why it makes the Cardinals hitters among the worst in MLB that day. This is in almost every way a beastly offense, but on Saturdays they can only muster a .606 OPS. That is among the worst in MLB folks. Very odd.
Meanwhile, the pitching doesn't like to show up on Thursdays. The best day for the Cardinals is humpday: both the offense and the pitching show up big time on Wednesdays (I'll have to remember that's the best day to make sure to watch!).
The Cardinals are a .500 team at the moment... When the Cardinals win, they are a force to be reckoned with: .907 OPS, 2.19 ERA. When they lose: 5.51 ERA, .637 OPS. This has created a true Jeckyl and Hyde dynamic that both makes me want to tune in every day, and repels me with near un-watchable baseball. It has created some divisions between a few of the fans, some ready to throw the team under the bus, others cautiously hoping for more of the good half of the results that have piled up in 70 games so far.
There is some evidence of a certain not desirable trait, as the Clutch stat on Fangraphs suggests poor clutch performance. A more traditional stat supplied by MLB.com shows that the Cardinals offense is at .684 OPS in late and close matchups; and the pitching has a WHIP over 1.5 in those types of games... giving up the 4th most walks in MLB at those times. And guess what? They are 2nd in giving up home runs in late and close games.
This all or nothing team is understandably frustrating to watch a good portion of the time; but can appear to beat anyone if on the right day. What you can hope for more of is offense. Despite lots of 1 run losses, the Cards offense is still running strong, still the best in baseball over the course of the season so far (except for the Clutch issues, which also plagues the pitching staff).
The defense, however, has been the 5th worst defense in MLB by UZR. This defense isn't going to save many games apparently. It will be important for the defense to be more responsible... In June, there have been 2 one run losses. In May, FIVE 1 run losses. And four for April... so this appears that it is going to be a thing. ELEVEN one run losses before the halfway point explains much of the consternation in the minds of the fans. That and not knowing if the good version or the bad version of the 2012 Cardinals will show up.
1 run losses:
Wednesday April 11 the Cards lose to the Reds, on one of the few bad Wednesdays for the Cards this year so far
Monday and Tuesday April 23&24 back to back 2-3 losses to the Cubs! if that month wasn't so great..... yikes
Sunday April 29 Cards lose to Brewers; another annoying 2-3 loss to close out the month of April
Friday May 4 Cards fall to Astros 4-5
Friday May 18 Dodgers 6-5
Sunday May 20 another 1 run loss to Dodgers in a pretty frustrating weekend
Thursday May 24 getting swept by the Phillies starts with a 9-10 loss
Tuesday May 29 loss to Braves 4-5
Friday June 15 another 2-3 loss against Royals
Thursday June 21 lost to Detroit 1-2
The Cardinals have not fared well AT ALL in close games. They did win a handful of them, but if the team isn't steamrolling, there will always be some doubt. The team does not do well in 2 run games either, but they haven't been as common. 3 or 4 run games, it gets better for the Cards. At least this team doesn't get embarrassed too often, and can crush a team by 10 or more runs on a few occasions. The only time the team was defeated by more than six runs was that weird no-hitter* where they lost 8-0... and some have pointed out the offense didn't really look that bad that game.
What all this tells me, basically, is that the team has a very unpredictable future to the season. The offense hasn't been exactly what it was... the team hasn't truly rattled an opponent since early May when they beat the Pirates 12-3. Many of the losses have been close games, and many of the wins have been not so close. So that is an encouraging thought. It is far too early to be saying this team sucks or to be over the top negative about them. Not every single player is amazing, but there are plenty of good ones and most of the not so good ones aren't that bad.
And there could be some cavalry on the way, which should help with those close games. Let's face it, the offense has been in a slump in June, but they can still carry the team going up to the All Star Break... seldom do team slumps last a whole month. And the bullpen should at some point not be giving up this many home runs. Just some things to look at when deciding whether the cup is half empty or half full.