The Cardinals haven't proven their worth, and Monday's loss was a painful reminder of 2023

The Cardinals seemed to have improved after winning five straight series. Now, they've lost three of their last four games and are coming back down to earth
St. Louis Cardinals v Houston Astros
St. Louis Cardinals v Houston Astros / Logan Riely/GettyImages

Last night, the Cardinals had victory right in their grasp, but they ultimately let it slip as the Astros came back to beat them 7-4.

Prior to the Phillies series, the Cardinals had won their last five series and looked to be turning the corner. They had even gotten back to .500.

Now, they've lost three of their last four games and sit two games below the .500 mark. They also remain seven games back of first in the NL Central and are in third place.

Last night's game was eerily similar to all the games the Cardinals lost in 2023 as they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, and it's one of many reasons why the Cardinals still have not proven their worth.

Cardinals still haven't proven their worth

Even after five consecutive series wins, I wasn't convinced that the Cardinals were back. The series against the Phillies over the weekend ultimately served as a reality check.

For me to be convinced that this team was for real, they needed to win the series against the Phillies. They failed to do that. And while they have a stretch against some sub-.500 teams, they didn't start it out too well as they failed to close the deal last night in Houston.

The truth is, the Cardinals are only in the mix because the rest of the National League, save for the Phillies and Dodgers, is pretty weak. The Wild Card race is especially weak, and it's looking like whoever takes the final spot may do so with no more than 82 wins. Whoever gets it won't be favored to go deep in the playoffs.

Sure, it could end up being the Cardinals who take that spot, but then what happens next? Likely more of the same, with the Cardinals barely sneaking in and banking on a miracle to get them to the World Series, only to get bounced in the Wild Card round.

And that's if the Cardinals even make it to the playoffs, which I'm not convinced they will. They keep missing chances to get over the .500 mark and are now looking at potentially suffering back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1994-95. That's almost unthinkable for younger generations of Cardinals fans.

Sadly though, it might end up happening. The Cardinals still have yet to prove their worth. And while they are clearly better than they were in 2023, that doesn't exactly set the bar high, and there have been numerous points this season where 2023 has reared its ugly head again. Last night was one of them.

It was a game that the Cardinals seemingly had in the bag, but they let it get away from them in perfect 2023 fashion. The issues are not fixed, and they won't be fixed unless major changes are made.

It's hard for me to convince myself that this team is worth investing in at the trade deadline. We as fans all want them to play winning baseball, but if they keep hanging around .500, their best option is to sell.