You don’t need me to tell you that games in mid-September are precious. And when you’re in a division race against 2 other teams?
Even more so.
Last night’s 6-0 loss to a bad baseball team hurt because both the Cubs and Brewers beat the bad teams they were playing, pushing the Cardinals into 3rd place in the NL Central.
One of the things I’d been meaning to post about the past few weeks was Mike Matheny’s apparent pivot into wallpaper.
My belief – which is not shared by everyone – is that MLB managers are not the most important factor in team success.
Yes, from time to time they make a brilliant move that earns their side a W. But far more often, they are the cause of L’s. Ideally, you’d like your manager to be consistent, mindful of resources and able to keep a locker room in a positive mindset.
Put the players in the best position to do their best work and then step back.
Mike Matheny has had some issues blending into the background since his arrival in St. Louis as manager.
The last few weeks, though? The notoriously persnickety Cards Nation Matheny watchers were relatively quiet.
As a newbie skip, he mostly got a pass the first couple of seasons with the (reasonable) expectation that as he gained experience, he’d make fewer and fewer decisions that could openly be questioned by even the most casual fan.
More than half a decade on and fans are still getting treated to some WTF moments.
Last night, ‘the pivot’ proved to be another red herring.
If I just went up to a random baseball fan on the street and asked them if one of the most worked pitchers in baseball should be used in a blowout game during a division title run, what do you think people would say?
Probably tell you that it was a bad idea, no?
And then we see Matt Bowman – one of the MLB leaders in appearances – pitching in the 9th inning of a 6-0 game.
Why was this game a blowout?
Turns out the data showed one path in the 5th inning when the bases were loaded and it was a much more overcome-able 2-0 deficit (do not let Ryan Sherriff pitch to Eugenio Suarez) and the Cardinals manager chose the other path.
Path 1: Make a change…
Path 2: Don’t make a change…
It was most decidedly not a wallpaper game for Mike Matheny.
Almost 6 seasons completed as manager and there are still games like last night.
He still has trouble fading into the background.
I can’t be a hypocrite here.
Mike Matheny wasn’t the reason the Cardinals lost last night. He was a reason. Not the reason.
Little is guaranteed in life. But there’s a 100% chance the Birds will lose all games they score 0 runs in.
The players didn’t bring it Wednesday night. And the manager didn’t help.
Heading into THE series of the year tomorrow, the Cardinals (and the manager) better bring something better to the ballpark this afternoon.