Cardinals: Dylan Carlson appears to be breaking out of early slump

St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Dylan Carlson appears to be breaking out of early slump, and the team needed it in the worst way.

The St. Louis Cardinals have had an up-and-down first month on offense, with Paul DeJong’s struggles leading him to the minors. Tyler O’Neill has looked like a shell of his 2021 self. Dylan Carlson started the first 19 games hitting .184/.238/.250 with a .488 OPS.

While DeJong is still in Triple-A and O’Neill continues to fight his swing, Carlson is showing signs of bouncing back. In the first 16 games of May, he’s hitting .273/.322/.473 with a .795 OPS. While his BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) was .219 in April/May, it has soared to .289 in May.

Having Carlson bounce back and perform like his 2021 self, where he was a legitimate National League Rookie of the Year candidate, would be a huge development for the Cardinals. Especially with O’Neill struggling and the offense needing another strong presence in the lineup, though they are both much different hitters.

Still, Carlson is a vital piece to the Cardinals’ lineup. When he’s right, they place him atop their batting order, and he provides something that manager Oli Marmol likes: the ability to hit a home run to leadoff a game. And if he doesn’t hit a homer, he’s shown the ability to work the count and get on base, and that’s extremely valuable when the lineup also includes Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt.

Get O’Neill going, and that lineup becomes infinitely more dangerous. They saw it last year and it’s a primary reason they were able to go on a historic 18-game winning streak and sneak into the wild card round.

Getting into the playoffs will require all hands on deck for the Cardinals. They finally got Carlson going. Now, they need O’Neill to bounce back, and they are hopeful that it won’t take too much longer.