Taking on the Dodgers tonight, record is 44-37.
By way of reference, this time last year, the Redbirds, recovering from a June swoon, were five games better, 49-32.
50 years ago, in the legendary 1964 season, the Cardinals were 40-41 at the midway point of the season. It would be mid-August before they put on their charge that would carry them to a pennant on the last day of the season.
So far, the word that defines the season, in my mind, is “inconsistent.” The offense in particular: it’s 17th in BA, 16th in OBP, and has scored 306 runs, 27th in the majors. Milwaukee, currently 5 1/2 games ahead in the division, has scored 66 more runs, although their pitching as allowed 54 more runs. The Cardinals were more or less stuck around .500 for the first three months of the season, including an awful 10 games in late May where they were . They will get hot for a stretch, like the 8-2 run in mid-June against Toronto, Tampa Bay, Washington, and the Mets, then flop back to mediocre, as happened since that stretch ended, including a 1-0 shutout Thursday in LA to rob Adam Wainwright, who carried a no-hitter into the 6th, of his 11th win.
Pitching – though with some very bad days, pitching has carried the team. Staff ERA is 3.21, 3rd in the majors, and they’ve held opponents to a .230 BA, best in baseball. Wainwright is having a very good year; however – and this is a big red flag for me – he’s already rung up 116 innings. I know he’s normally good for 200+ a season, but he’s also 32 years old. I still think his poor showing in the Series last fall was in part due to being tired.
As for the team, the pieces don’t fit together consistently, and now the DL includes starters Joe Kelly, Michael Wacha, and Shelby Miller. Perhaps the rest will do Wacha good; he’s proven, after a spectacular performance last fall, he’s human (and 5-5). Matt Carpenter is hitting 24 points below his career BA. Matt Holliday and Alan Craig are way off their usual production, although Craig leads the team with 40 RBIs. Matt Adams returned from the DL with a vengeance – .385, 3 home runs, 10 RBIs in the last week.
Jhonny Peralta, of whom I was skeptical, has so far paid off. He leads the team in home runs, with 11.
So, consistency and getting the team in sync, to me, seems the key. Barring a 1964-ish collapse, the Brew Crew isn’t going to give the Cardinals anything; they’ll have to take it.