Second Coming Of The 2011 Cardinals?

There are similarities.

Let's examine them shall we?

Bullpen Burdens

Both clubs struggled with their relievers most of the season. The 2011 version ended the season with just two relief pitchers who started the year in the bullpen: Jason Motte and Mitchell Boggs. The rest of the bullpen was re-made on the fly. Ryan Franklin and Miguel Batista were released in June. Brian Tallett and Trever Miller were traded to Toronto in the Colby Rasmus deal. Fernando Salas came up from Memphis in May in relief of Eduardo Sanchez who failed as closer. Arthur Rhodes was a nice August pick up following his release from Texas. Marc Rzepcyznski and Octavio Dotel came over in the Rasmus trade. And the addition of Edwin Jackson in the Rasmus trade allowed Kyle McClellan to leave the rotation and return the bullpen providing much needed long relief.

The 2018 Cardinals have largely relied on Memphis to cure their bullpen problems. The veteran core of the bullpen has been plagued by injuries: Dominic Leone, Luke Gregerson and Brett Cecil. The Greg Holland experiment sort of mirrors Ryan Franklin. And a couple of trades evoke memories of 2011; Luke Voit for Chasen Shreve and Sam Tuivailala for a minor leaguer. The pick up of Tyler Webb, released by San Diego in June, should be mentioned though he's only pitched 7, albeit effective, innings. What shouldn't be underestimated or overlooked has been the ride of the Redbird Brigade from Memphis. The Cardinals have called up the entire Memphis starting rotation (Hudson, Poncedeleon, Gomber, Flaherty and Gant) and they have contributed 250 innings to the rotation and bullpen. Bravo young birds!


We only remember Albert Pujols as a 300/30/100 machine but he slumped badly in early 2011. Maybe because he didn't get the 10 year, 300-million dollar new contract he wanted and thought he needed to audition for his next team. Or maybe it was just the first glimpse of what has been a long, slow decline. Pujols had a 105 at bat streak without a homer and missed two weeks with an injured wrist. He still managed to be vintage Pujols posting 299/37/99 stats in 147 games. He was one of four Cardinals on that team with a 500+ SLG but, surprisingly, wasn't the slugging leader. That distinction belonged to a Memphis call-up who would play every position but shortstop and catcher as Tony LaRussa looked for ways to get his bat in the lineup. Allen Craig posted a 315/362/555 slash line in part-time play. Predictably, the other sluggers on the team were Lance Berkman, 547 SLG, and Matt Holliday, 525 SLG.

The 2018 Cardinals have one hitter slugging more than .500 and he bats leadoff. Matt Carpenter leads the team in homers and...strikeouts. The 2011 Cardinals had just three hitters with 15 or more homers. The 2018 Cards have three (Carpenter, Molina, Ozuna) with two more within two homers of reaching that mark (Martinez and DeJong). It's worth noting Pham had 14 homers before getting shipped to Toronto. Spreading out the power throughout the lineup in the 2018 Cardinals comes at a cost; strikeouts. Holliday led the 2011 Cardinals with 93 strikeouts. Those numbers have been or will be eclipsed by Carpenter, Bader, Ozuna and DeJong. Pham (97) and Fowler (75) were also on their way to 100 Ks. Just 7 years ago, 100 strikeouts came with a stigma. Now it's difficult to imagine an entire team not having a 100 strikeout player.

Solid Rotations

Neither the 2011 nor 2018 Cardinals have had the services of Adam Wainwright. TJ surgery in 2011. Elbow issues in 2018. Chris Carpenter, Jamie Garcia, Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook all pitched 183 innings or more. Reliable innings eaters all. Edwin Jackson also averaged better than 6 IP/start after he arrived so the stress on the reconfigured bullpen was minimized. There was no real ace on the 2011 staff. Carpenter went 11-9 with a 3.45 ERA. Garcia went 13-7 with a 3.56, Lohse 14-8, 3.39 and Westbrook 12-9, 4.66. The MLB ERA average in 2011 was 4.28 so all but Westbrook were above average pitchers (Jackson had a 3.58 ERA for the Cardinals).

While the strength of the 2011 Cardinals was the middle of the lineup, the strength of the 2018 Cardinals is starting pitching. Mikolas, Martinez, Wacha, Weaver and Reyes have become Mikolas, Gomber, Flaherty, Weaver and Gant but the drop-off is negligible. Gomber, 2.89, Flaherty, 3.05, and Gant, 3.74, have all been serviceable to outstanding. Mikolas continues to be the ace of the staff (13-3, 2.80). Only Weaver (6-11, 4.67) has been a disappointment but, under new management, he's getting a quick hook and Tyson Ross (1.93) is piggybacking those truncated Weaver starts. It's been a great stress reliever on the bullpen.


Through 130 games, the 2011 Cardinals were just 4 games over .500 but went on a 23-9 tear to finish the season and stayed hot throughout the playoffs.

These 2018 Cardinals are currently 12 games over through 124 games and winning games at a torrid pace. As we saw in 2011, get hot, get in the playoffs and anything can happen!