St. Louis Cardinals: Come on Shildt, give them a break!

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 08: Members of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrate after a 2-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on September 8, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 08: Members of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrate after a 2-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on September 8, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

The lineups have been a point of contention for the St. Louis Cardinals this year and now again, two players are being run into the ground every day.

For the St. Louis Cardinals, the offense has been a clear weak point this year. With a pitching staff and defense that ranks near the top in the MLB, if the team had a more consistent offense they would be clear leaders in the division.

With regards to the offense, the way that players have been trotted out day after day have also been perplexing at times this year. It usually ends up that manager Mike Shildt starts the right guys but the move to start the obvious right lineup has taken him way too long to move on this year.

Whether it was Matt Carpenter playing every day as a husk of his former self, a perpetually slumping Harrison Bader in center, or a clearly slumping Tommy Edman going to right field all the time, Shildt has waited way too long to make moves when it comes to certain players.

It seems another situation has come up like these previous examples. Paul DeJong and Marcell Ozuna both look completely gassed and are continued to be played every day. Any fan watching the team can see this, especially when it comes to Paul DeJong. Ozuna is a tougher sell because he did have a great game on Monday where he drove in the team’s only runs, but the point can still be made.

When digging into DeJong’s numbers, he has not had a full day off on a day where the Cardinals played since July 14th. Since that time, DeJong appeared in all 60 of the team’s games and has started 58 times. In just seven of those 58 starts, he was replaced before the game was over but only twice pulled at the seventh inning and never earlier.

While the schedule mixed in six off days during that time, that is still 60 games played in 66 days including playing all of the games when the Cardinals played the back-to-back doubleheaders against the Reds. DeJong’s .211/.284/.459 slash line over that time is below league average. While he does have an anemic .222 BABIP over that span, the slash line and the eye test screams overworked.

Looking at the last 28 days for DeJong, his average falls to .194 and OPS to .665. Can he not get a day off? Is there nobody available on the extended rosters to replace DeJong for just one game even?

Looking at Ozuna, since returning from his broken hand on August 3rd, he has gotten just one day off (one of the games on the Sunday of the back-to-back doubleheaders). Ozuna has played in 42 of the 43 games and over that same span, he was pulled early just seven times.

Ozuna’s .233/.331/.447 slash over that span looks better, his last 28 days feature a slash of .213/.308/.457 slash.

Both players are certified as sluggers for sure with 28 and 27 homers a piece which is important, but both these players look gassed watching every day.

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I understand that this is the biggest part of the year, but these guys are going to be more important to be fresh than to be dilapidated strikeout machines every game. In the case of Ozuna, it’s even worse because of how many outfielders there are on the roster. With Randy Arozarena, Tyler O’Neill and Jose Martinez on the bench, Ozuna needs to be able to find at least semi-regular rest when it’s clear he’s slumping and worn down.

The DeJong situation is not any better as he has been a worse hitter for longer and with Yairo Munoz, Edman and now Edmundo Sosa on the roster, just one day off wouldn’t hurt too bad and could help DeJong wildly in the long run.

The situation is almost too late to do anything about now because of where the team is in the schedule. The next 10 games after Wednesday’s game against the Nationals are the biggest games of the year. DeJong and Ozuna need to find a way to rest themselves up as if they slump the next 10 days, making the playoffs in any capacity could go out the window.

Next. With two weeks left, who’s in negative WAR?. dark

The games against the Cubs have to feature the best possible lineups as the team tries to cling to a 2.0 game lead but the inability for Shildt to adjust the lineup will be a definite thing to point to as the reason why the team missed the playoffs.