It feels like I tune into a nationally broadcasted St. Louis Cardinals game, or the club is talked about by national media on TV segments or podcasts, many point to the absence of Yadier Molina as the reason why the Cardinals' pitching staff has struggled so much this year.
Yes, losing Molina has been a huge loss for this club, and his absence was always going to be felt. But blaming their pitching woes on his absence is deflecting blame from the Cardinals' real issues.
The Cardinals' pitching philosophy is what has failed them this season
As of June 29th, the Cardinals rank 22nd in baseball with a 4.46 ERA as a team. Many, including people who used to be a part of the organization, point to outdated "pitch to contact" philosophies as part of their demise, and their ranking of 24th in strikeouts this year seems to point to that.
I'm not saying the Cardinals have bad pitchers - Miles Mikolas, Jordan Montgomery, Jack Flaherty, Jordan Hicks, Giovanny Gallegos, Ryan Helsley and so many of their other arms would slot right into most, if not all, pitching staffs in today's game. But it's the quality of the staff overall that has become their issue.
There is no one you can point to on this roster as a front-end starting pitcher. Jordan Hicks has been good as of late, but each of the Cardinals' top bullpen arms has had its fair share of struggles this year. When a pitching staff lacks high-end potential from arms as well as consistency as a whole, it lends itself to bigger issues.
Sure, if Yadier Molina was still able to catch for this team, I do believe the staff would be better, but they'd still have many of the same issues they have now. Molina could only mask so much of the Cardinals' issues, and they were bound to crack this year either way.
Remember, Molina caught just 78 games for the Cardinals last year. Knizner caught the majority of the club's games. And the pitching staff wasn't this bad during Molina's prolonged absences. Before the trade deadline, the rotation was in desperate need of upgrades. At that time, they were trouting out a four-man rotation of Adam Wainwright, Miles Mikolas, Andrew Pallante, and Dakota Hudson while having to have a bullpen game as well. Without significant upgrades, the team wasn't going to push for the playoffs.
The Cardinals added Jose Quintana and Jordan Montgomery, and it transformed their rotation overnight. Even with Molina, the Cardinals needed arms that were good enough s to get things done, The Cardinals are in that situation once again. And it's not because Molina is gone.