Cardinals pitching struggles have masked other major issues that are plaguing the team

When we look at the Cardinals, we often think of the pitching struggles. But those struggles have seemingly masked other areas of the roster that are plaguing the team, such as the offense.
St. Louis Cardinals v Los Angeles Dodgers
St. Louis Cardinals v Los Angeles Dodgers / Katharine Lotze/GettyImages

The Cardinals failed their first test of the year, dropping three out of four against the Dodgers in their Opening Weekend series.

We can chalk it up to the Cardinals simply being overmatched by the Dodgers, like other teams may end up being at certain points this year. It could just be that this is the Dodgers year, and nobody is going to stop them.

I think that's certainly possible, but two of the games the Cardinals lost were very winnable. I'm of course speaking of Sunday night's game, but Friday's loss as well.

Obviously, the pitching didn't hold up too well, and it is one of the reasons why the Cardinals fell in their opening series against Los Angeles. The bullpen was taxed after Saturday's dramatic win, and it showed on Sunday. Oli Marmol removing Steven Matz from the game was also a poor choice, as they needed more innings out of him, and it put more pressure on the bullpen.

But the biggest takeaway for me was just how bad the offense was.

Cardinals' offense was the biggest problem against Dodgers

We hear it all the time, that the offense isn't the problem. But I beg to differ.

Look at the Reds last year, who had an awful rotation and posted a team ERA of 4.83 but finished fifth in the National League in runs scored with 783. That offense helped them win a lot of their games, and they even finished over .500 and only narrowly missed the postseason.

While yes, you do need good pitching, a good offense can sometimes help mask some of those issues. But the Cardinals' offense continues to be underwhelming.

I know it's only four games, but the Cardinals currently are last in all of baseball with a .173 team average, last in slugging percentage (.226), and last in OPS (.459).

That's not good. And because of the pitching woes, the Cardinals have relied on their offense over the past few years, and it hasn't saved them. Last year, they were 10th in the National League in runs scored with 719, a far cry from when they were third in 2022 with 772 runs scored.

I actually do think the pitching will improve when Sonny Gray returns, but that won't matter if the offense doesn't.

It's a much bigger problem than people realize. The most telling piece of evidence from Sunday's loss wasn't so much that the bullpen was taxed or that Matz was pulled two early, despite both of those things being true. It was the fact that in the top of the sixth, the Cardinals were gifted two runs by the Dodgers and still stranded the bases loaded.

A two-out hit from Nolan Gorman would have changed everything. If he comes through there with the bases loaded, then the Cardinals probably would have won the game and managed a split against the mighty Dodgers.

But the offense continues to fail the Cardinals, and the issues still seem to fly under the radar.

On Friday night, the Cardinals scored three runs late and even had two on with one out in the top of the eighth. But they stranded those two runners and killed their chances of pulling off a dramatic comeback win. They even had chances in the sixth and seventh to do damage that they failed to capitalize on.

The Cardinals won't be able to contend unless the offensive production kicks up, and in San Diego, that's going to be a tall task, as they'll face both Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove in the final two games of the series.

The talent is there for sure, but there's never a point where everybody is clicking at once. That needs to change.

In my opinion, offense is what truly cost the Cardinals the series in Los Angeles, and the bats need to wake up fast if they want to avoid a start similar to 2023.