The St. Louis Cardinals are struggling and upcoming matchups against the Pirates and Diamondbacks could define their season.
Hoo boy, are the St. Louis Cardinals in a slump. Their starting pitching, battered and bruised, has struggled ever since Jack Flaherty was sidelined with an oblique injury. The offense, which was supposed to be among the best in baseball with the Nolan Arenado addition, is the definition of inconsistent.
The two-game series against the Detroit Tigers was supposed to be a reset for a struggling Cardinals team. Yet, it was anything but that. The Tigers won both games, with the Cardinals falling to 36-38 and 5.5 games back in the National League Central.
The good news for the Cardinals is it can’t get much worse than this. I think. But they are now presented with a prime opportunity to get this ship pointed in the right direction, as they start a four-game series against the last place Pittsburgh Pirates before starting a three-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the worst team in baseball that just recently snapped a 17-game losing streak that has also lost 23 consecutive road games.
If the Cardinals come out of that seven-game set with a losing record, then it’s time to sound the alarm bells. It would be time to talk about them as sellers, not buyers, at the upcoming July 30 trade deadline. It was unimaginable that would even be a thought after acquiring Arenado, but that’s the position the Cardinals find themselves in — and something they’d have to strongly consider if their struggles continue against two of the worst teams in baseball.
The most likely scenario, however, remains that the Cardinals win these series and approach the deadline as buyers. But have they shown enough to convince president of baseball operations John Mozeliak that he should be aggressive? The early answer is no. He wants to build a sustainable winner and parting with elite prospects, especially to upgrade a roster that has inspired little confidence, does not seem like something Mozeliak will do.
The next week will provide more clarity on what Mozeliak should do and it could, quite frankly, be the seven-game stretch that could define how the rest of their season goes.