The St. Louis Cardinals have been stagnant for a month and after another bad series, manager Mike Shildt hinted at lineup changes. They have arrived.
June has not been kind to the now-4th place St. Louis Cardinals. On June 1, the Cardinals finished the day at 31-24, half a game back of the division lead. Today, on June 23rd, they are two games under .500 at 36-38.
Amazingly, they are still within striking distance of the division, but eventually, something has to give.
After their most recent embarrassing series loss (this time a two-game sweep at the hands of the 4th place Detroit Tigers), manager Mike Shildt said postgame that things might look a little different on the lineup card when the team heads to the field for their first game of four against the Pirates.
Since about mid-April when Shildt moved Dylan Carlson to the second spot in the lineup, things have stayed relatively the same in the first four slots of the lineup. Tommy Edman, Dylan Carlson, Paul Goldschmidt, and Nolan Arenado looks like a menacing top four on paper, but the slow start of Goldschmidt and the on-and-off play of the other three has left this combo feeling stagnant lately.
Most likely, Shildt doesn’t mean the lineup will look drastically different as personnel changes on the offensive side of the ball aren’t likely, but a shakeup is needed.
That’s exactly what happened. The Cardinals shifted Carlson to the leadoff spot, moving second baseman Tommy Edman to the sixth spot in the batting order. The rest of the lineup goes: Carlson, Goldschmidt, Arenado, Tyler O’Neill, Yadier Molina, Edman, Lars Nootbaar, Paul DeJong.
Whether that new lineup provides instant results remains to be seen, but the Cardinals had to do something different in the batting order. The team was clearly frustrated and it was starting to shine through on the field, with president of baseball operations John Mozeliak also suggesting that a lineup change was possible, and the recent struggles and bats slammed into the dirt in frustration made the Cardinals finally pull the trigger on a new-look lineup.
But is the lineup entirely to blame? The pitching staff has dealt with a plethora of injuries, most notably to ace Jack Flaherty, who is sidelined until early August at the soonest. But the Cardinals thought that the lineup, which many considered the best in the last five seasons, would be enough to mask those flaws. That has clearly not been the case and why there is strong support outside the organization to part with hitting coach Jeff Albert.
But those inside the organization have not reached that point yet. But as the offensive woes continue, and the stranded runners in scoring position continue, Albert’s seat will only continue to grow hotter. For now, however, the Cardinals hope that the new lineup creates a spark to the offense. Wednesday will be it’s first test and they could use any sort of glimmer of hope.
It’s frustrating for fans, of course, but the frustration inside the organization is at a season-high right now. But the Cardinals, who are 5.5 games back in the National League Central, are lucky to not be further back and are still well within striking distance of the Milwaukee Brewers and other division rivals.