Here is a fun fact: if the Cardinals win tonight, they will be 2 games back of the Brewers in the NL Central. This is not only a fun fact, it is an insane fact. The Cardinals entered this week with 4 games against the Braves and 4 games against the Phillies. It has so far worked out about as poorly as possible. They have lost 5 of the 7 games. Meanwhile, the Brewers got to face the Cubs for 3 games and the Pirates for 3 games.
By any reasonable standard, after the week the Cardinals had and what the Brewers should have done to those two teams, the Cardinals should probably be back at least 4.5 games right now. That’s assuming a 2 games to 1 series against both the Pirates and Cubs. No great leap. It could obviously be even worse than that. But instead the Brewers lost 4 of 6 games. And really I watched the end of their lone win against the Cubs - they should have lost that one. So thank you Brewers.
As far as the past week is concerned, specifically the offense, I have a theory. Basically three things happened that have made this offense look like they’d be middle of the pack during the Deadball Era. All offenses have lulls, moments where a disproportionate amount of hitters seem to be slumping. This is strike one. Most of the offense is slumping at the same time.
Reason number two is they’ve run into great pitching. Max Fried, Spencer Strider, Kyle Wright, Zach Wheeler twice. Just a brutal set of pitchers to face. Take a slumping offense - which might struggle to score runs off anyone - and have them face genuinely great pitchers - and it really magnifies.
Lastly, injuries/sickness have left the offense not near its peak. The bottom of the order in the Phillies series has been.... dreadful. This year I mean. Like pitchers hitting bad. The good at hitting pitchers, but pitchers hitting all the same. 3-4 spots on the lineup dedicated to really bad hitters. And as Goldy said, the Cardinals just aren’t hitting for power right now. The top of the order might get on base, but once you reach that bottom of the order, it just sucks the life out of the offense.
So, natural slumping over a full season, pitching that could dominate the best offense, and a seriously worse offense than the healthy version of the offense. Brendan Donovan, Harrison Bader, Tyler O’Neill - their absences are felt. At the very least, both Bader and O’Neill might be able to make something happen on the basepaths.
Anyway, the offense may have trouble for a bit longer. They are facing Aaron Nola tonight and the Dodgers after that. Really hard for the offense to get back on track when they keep facing some of the best pitching in baseball. It feels like Miles Mikolas is going to get another loss while pitching a good game tonight, so let’s try to break that trend. Cardinals could really use the win.
Are you worried about the offense?