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The Best Team in Baseball (Today)

With a 37-18 record after winning both games of a double header, the Cardinals are the best team in baseball. Even if they aren't this good, they're good enough.


Cardinals 8, Giants 0

Cardinals 7, Giants 1

If there's a moment to inspire fear about a shaky bullpen, it's the prospect of having to struggle through two games within hours of each other. A doubleheader is a unique beast that, under other circumstances, the Cardinals would be ill-equipped to handle.

These certainly weren't those circumstances.

The Cardinals sent their twin aces to the mound in Shelby Miller and Adam Wainwright. Miller allowed 7 baserunners over 7 innings of shutout baseball. He struck out 7. Adam Wainwright punched out 10 and threw a complete game. If the Cardinals bullpen is ill-equipped to handle a double header where they have a lot of innings to cover, the Cardinals starters made sure they were never put in that situation.

Despite the gaudy scores, the Cardinals offense continues to get quite lucky. As evidenced in the first game where the team scratched out 5 runs with 2 outs off of Matt Cain in the in the 3rd inning. That's lucky off of any pitcher not to mention a good pitcher. The Cardinals had 4 more hits than the Giants over those two games and 1 additional walk. They outscored the Giants by 14 runs.

A team that starts a lineup with Wigginton, Descalso, Robinson and Kozma will need some luck to collect 7 runs. That's not to say that the Cardinals don't have any offense. Matt Carpenter has proven to be an incredible player and a tremendous leadoff hitter. With a .392 OBP, there's little justification to not have him on the field for every game. Carlos Beltran is off to another hot start with an age-defying power output. Yadier Molina continues to make John Mozeliak look nothing less than a genius with his re-signing.

But the Cardinals offense doesn't look like what many had expected. Matt Holliday is off to a slow start. David Freese and Jon Jay have seen their offense crater with their BABIP. The Cardinals retain a top 10 offense (#9 in wRC+) but the pitching has been the story of the year for the Cardinals. The pitching has led the Cardinals to the best record in the league. The pitching has racked up the second best FIP in baseball.

The Cardinals are not this good. This pace has them winning 108 games. That is almost certainly not going to happen. But consider that if the Cardinals play just .500 baseball, they are a 90 win team. So even if they aren't this good, don't let that harsh your buzz. They're plenty good enough.

* * *

A few more words on the starting rotation. Much of what's been written about the rotation has been its piecemeal nature. Jaime Garcia and Jake Westbrook's injuries threw a wrench into an otherwise promising rotation. The Cardinals reached to their minor league depth to supplement. Their first choice, John Gast, finds himself on the DL as well. The Cardinals will see if they can proceed with Tyler Lyons and Michael Wacha.

The Cardinals rotation has a Jekyll and Hyde quality. The backend has clearly been Mr. Hyde with it's injuries and instability. While Tyler Lyons and Michael Wacha have pitched admirably, the instability is something that makes fans naturally suspicious and something that lends itself to an easy media narrative.

Don't sleep on the Dr. Jekyll part of the rotation. Wainwright, Miller and Lance Lynn have been nothing short of fantastic. Miller and Lynn have averaged 6+ innings a start. Wainwright continues to be in a class all his own. These are the stalwarts of the Cardinals success. This is what has prevented the early season bullpen woes from being exacerbated.

Perhaps most importantly, this is sustainable. The Cardinals clutch hitting has been great but isn't something that should be counted on moving forward. When the Cardinals drafted Shelby Miller, this is what they expected. After fixing a mechanical quirk, the Cardinals transformed Lance Lynn into a remarkable pitcher. Adam Wainwright has continued his pre-surgery dominance. The Cardinals were always counting on these pitchers to be good. If Michael Wacha and Tyler Lyons are ready to join the party now, well, that's just the icing on the cake.