The St. Louis Cardinals played fewer of their first 38 games at home this season than any team in 40 years, according to ESPN. They emerge from that period having won half of their games. By their run differential, the Cardinals should have won two more games by now.
“You’re better than this!” Manager Mike Matheny reportedly shouted at Shelby Miller during last night’s game in Pittsburgh. The Cardinals can show everyone they are better as they embark on a 10-game home stand against the Cubs, Braves, and Diamondbacks. Where do they rank right now?
Despite a few recent bad outings, the St. Louis Cardinals’ pitching ranks second in MLB, allowing 3.29 runs per game. The problem has been hitting. They are 27th overall in scoring, with 3.68 runs scored per game. Their defensive play was not crisp to start, but it has stabilized recently.
What could trend upwards with the Cardinals playing most of their games at home in May? Allen Craig may be coming around, finally. He’s still jumping at pitches, but has had more success lately of handling the diet of fastballs inside that had left him virtually impotent at the plate the first month of the season. He’s always hit well at Busch Stadium.
Jon Jay has appeared in 32 games and Peter Bourjos has been in 28. Jay posts a -.5 wins above replacement according to Baseball Prospectus. Bourjos is in positive territory, barely. He helps Holliday and Craig with his superior range. He also adds base-running skills, something with which this club is in short supply. Matheny would do well to pencil in Bourjos for most games.
What’s trending down right? Matt Adams. He’s hitting an empty .310. He has holes in his swing, especially to breaking balls down and in. He has yet to find a way to make his hits count for much in 2014.
Pitchers’ mechanics: Miller, Kevin Siegrist, and Trevor Rosenthal all were out of whack Sunday night. Miller repeatedly fell off towards first base and showed arm-side leak on his fastball. This meant that many of his fastballs were up and in to right-handed batters. Siegrist used a closed stride, cutting himself off from the plate, which caused him to leave balls up and out over the plate to right-handed batters. Rosenthal gets tremendous extension, but he may be over-striding, as many of his fastballs were very high and out of the zone.
Travel is not an issue. Jaime Garcia and Jason Motte may add options to the roster. Their next three opponents are relatively weak. Bruce Bochy does a mean Elvis impression. Maybe Mike Matheny can refine his after the Cardinals and Giants close out their series here on May 31.