St. Louis Cardinals: Breaking down the Matheny years
By Landon Clapp
Year 4: 2015
Regular Season Record: 100-62
NL Central Finish: 1st
Playoff Results: Lost NLDS against Chicago in 4 games
2015 was just a bizarre year for Cardinal baseball. It started with the mega-exciting Jason Heyward trade. Then the injury bug bit and it kept on biting. And still, that club won 100 games and fought off Pittsburgh and Chicago’s 98 and 97 win efforts in the Central.
Run prevention, thanks to the historically great 2015 Cardinal pitching staff was the catalyst that carried an extremely mediocre offense to a 100 win campaign. That pitching staff led the Cardinals to start the season with a 22-7 mark and also helped the club become the fastest to 50 wins since the 2005 Chicago White Sox.
That pitching staff in 2015 was so dominant, media outlets were naming the Cardinals a potential “Super Team”, despite the lackluster offensive production. And they did it all without their Ace.
Matheny’s performance, leadership-wise, may have been his best yet in 2015. His ability to keep his club focused and to keep them grinding, in light of all of the gut-shots they seemed to take in 2015 is truly remarkable. To hold off Pittsburgh and Chicago, with the roster he had, was a true work of art.
But, winning that third NL Central title proved costly in the postseason for Matheny and the Cardinals. There was concern all year about how heavily he leaned on the likes of Martinez, Wacha, Siegrist, Maness, and Rosenthal.
Martinez blew up his shoulder before the playoffs. Wacha looked worn down. Siegrist and Maness did too.
At the same time, guys like Adams, Holliday, and Yadier Molina were forced to try and rush back from injuries for playoff baseball. Molina didn’t finish the series, and neither Holliday nor Adams looked like their regular selves. It all added up to a 3-1 series loss to the free-swinging Cubbies.
I still think Matheny played it right by doing what he had to do to win the division. Too many crazy things can happen in those one game Wild Card match ups. He had to ensure his team a five-game series and he did that. he just didn’t have any gas left in the tank once they got there.
Matheny Regular Season Grade: A
Matheny Postseason Grade: C
Next: 2016 and Beyond