The virtual St. Louis Cardinals are leading the NL Central

We still don’t know when we will see St. Louis Cardinals baseball in 2020. While we wait for games to begin as normal, there is a way to follow along as the Cardinals play online.

Sadly, there is still no update on when St. Louis Cardinals baseball will be played. The virtual season, however, is going strong! Last week I wrote an update on the simulated season being run by Baseball Reference in Out of the Park Baseball. If you want to see how the year started off, you can check in here. There’s been quite a lot of virtual baseball since we last checked in, so let’s get to it.

The Cards continued their strong start by coming home and sweeping the Baltimore Orioles. Jack Flaherty earned the win in the first virtual game at Busch, and Giovanny Gallegos recorded two saves. Overall, it was a dominating performance against the 6-10 Orioles, who own one of the worst records in the simulated MLB.

Following the sweep, the Los Angeles Dodgers came to town. Game one of the series brought an end to the four-game win streak, as the Dodgers scored two runs in the 8th inning to pull away for a 5-3 victory. The Dodgers would go on to win three out of four against the Cardinals, but the St. Louis victory in game three gave us our first walk-off win of the season!

The game was tied at 2 in the 11th inning when the Dodgers brought reliever Blake Treinen into the game to try to send it to the 12th. What followed was one of the strangest innings in recent history. Treinen struck out two batters and gave up no hits. However, he also walked four, including the winning run! Despite losing three games, the Cardinals played a competitive and entertaining series against one of the best teams in baseball.

So far, the highlight of the virtual 2020 season came when the Cards traveled to Wrigley Field. Behind three dominating pitching performances, the Cardinals swept the division-rival Cubs.

Dakota Hudson pitched seven strong innings to win game one 8-2, Kwang-Hyun Kim gave up one run in six frames to take game two 7-4, and Adam Wainwright won his first game of the season with 7.1 innings of one-run ball in a 6-1 victory. The three-game series capped a six-game losing streak for the Cubs and sent them to the bottom of the NL Central.

Monday was an off-day, as the Cardinals had to virtually travel to Los Angeles to begin another set against the Dodgers. Through 16 games, however, the Cardinals sit atop the NL Central with an 11-5 record, and they are only two and a half behind the MLB leading Oakland Athletics, who sit at 13-4.

Jack Flaherty has led an incredible starting rotation thus far for the virtual Redbirds. Flaherty is 2-0 with a 1.96 ERA and 19 strikeouts in his first three starts. Other standouts include Dakota Hudson, who is undefeated on the year, and KK, who boasts the seventh-best ERA in the majors so far (1.59).

On the offensive side, the St. Louis Cardinals leaders in WAR are Kolten Wong and Harrison Bader. The two speedsters are top 20 in the majors in WAR and are leading the charge as early team MVPs. Bader has started every game this season, and while he has 29 strikeouts in 67 plate appearances, he also has a .358 OBP

Wong has been quite good out of the leadoff spot, with a .377 OBP and 15 runs scored. The rest of the offense is producing nicely. The team is averaging 5.1 runs per game and has yet to be shut out on the season. In addition, everyone outside of Yadier Molina and Matt Wieters is batting over .200 (we all know Yadi produces in ways the stats just can’t capture).

Both Paul Goldschmidt and Matt Carpenter struggled at various points last season, and the Cards are counting on them to bounce back this season to anchor the offense. Virtual Goldy has been about average so far in terms of run production, but he owns an astounding .413 OBP and an .854 OPS due to 10 walks on the year. Carpenter, on the other hand, has only started eight virtual games, which is probably why he has yet to find consistent production (.615 OPS).

Overall, it’s been an extremely positive season for the virtual St. Louis Cardinals. The only questions facing computer-Mike Shildt is how to get Tyler O’Neil more at-bats– four of his nine hits are home runs! O’Neil leads the team with .618 SLG and a 1.040 OPS, but the other outfielders have also performed quite well. With virtual injuries turned off, it’ll be interesting to see how O’Neil’s bat breaks into the lineup.

Next: Dexter Fowler for DH? A wonderful opportunity

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For the virtual St. Louis Cardinals, the season keeps moving along. They begin a four-game stretch against the Dodgers on Tuesday, as Jack Flaherty takes the mound vs Clayton Kershaw. To see more about the virtual season, click here. As always, hope everyone is staying safe out there. See you at Busch soon.

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