Since Friday, the Cardinals have played 5 games, at home, against 2 teams that will be in the playoff hunt this fall.
After a string of wins against lesser quality teams, many fans viewed these 5 games versus the Cubs and Red Sox as a viable litmus test of the Cardinals championship viability.
They lost 3 of 5 and fell out of first place in the NL Central.
Here are some stats that are not good:
- Cardinals have committed 34 errors (MLB rank: 29th)
- Cardinals have a .977 fielding percentage (MLB rank: 29th)
- 4 relief pitchers on the Cardinals have WAR totals of 0.0 or less
- After playing 1/4th of their home schedule, Cardinals are .500 (11-11)
Defense. Bullpen. Losses at home. If you’re having flashbacks to 2016, I wouldn’t blame you.
Are we overthinking this team?
Maybe we are.
Prior to the season, various Las Vegas sports books had the Cardinals pegged between 83.5 wins (Westgate) and 87.5 wins (Atlantis). In order to exceed those numbers (especially Atlantis’), the following 6 things would be key:
- Mike Leake would need to be good – 🙂 – he’s been awesome
- Lance Lynn would need to eat innings – 🙂 – he’s making more $$$ every start
- Bullpen would need to be shored up by Brett Cecil – 😦 – yikes
- Defense would need to improve from 2016 – 😦 – yikes, again
- Piscotty and Grichuk would need to take steps forward – 😦 – one on DL, other under .250
- Dexter Fowler would need to be a very impactful player – 😐 – 0.3 WAR (on pace for 1.2 season)
As of May 18th, the very scientific scorecard looks like this:
- 🙂 = 2
- 😦 = 3
- 😐 = 1
Because Leake and Lynn have been so good, the Cardinals are 4 games over .500, instead of right at .500.
If we’re being real honest, the Cardinals are probably going to end up right around that 85-87 win mark unless those other 4 ‘keys’ get unlocked. Maybe 89 if they’re lucky. Maybe 83 if they’re not.
But barring some sort of major move (that most likely isn’t forthcoming), the Cardinals are in a similar position to where they started the season: hope for enough wins to get a Wild Card and see what happens.
The Cardinals won’t be bad in 2017. After these past 5 games it’s hard to picture them being great, either.
They’re 5-10ish games above .500 good.
And keeping their fingers crossed that it’s good enough to earn the right to play in October.
Photo: SF Chronicle