By: Jim Tsapelas
I have been following baseball in general and the St Louis Cardinals in particular since the mid-1950’s. It may be the crankiness of my status as a senior citizen, or as I prefer Elder Statesman, however, I am finding myself growing increasingly tired of the prophets of gloom and doom and their seemingly relentless condemnation of the St. Louis Cardinals. This morning I read a Cardinal writer, a self identified sabermetricts guru, who prophesied the “Cardinals are projected to lose one hundred sixty-two games this season.”
Granted the Cardinals have begun the 2016 season with three losses and their record as of Thursday, April 7, 2016 is 0-3, however what kind of nut could base a projection of one hundred sixty-two losses on such a small sample? It is time Cardinal Nation to suspend the rhetoric of Gloom and Doom and take a more realistic look at the series which ended Wednesday with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Wednesday’s five to one loss to the Pirates, followed losses on Sunday to the Pirates by the score of four to one, and on Tuesday by a score six to five in eleven innings. I, like any Cardinal fan, would like our record to be 3-0, but it is also not realistic to expect the Redbirds to win one hundred sixty-two games this season either!
This has been the first time since the 2007 season the Cardinals have begun a season 0-3. The 2007 season was the last Cardinal team to finish the season below .500, having amassed only seventy-eight wins.
The bright spot thus far this season has been the Cardinals’ bullpen. The pen has allowed just three runs over eleven innings. Tuesday’s eleven inning game the bullpen held the Pirates at bay allowing just one run in six innings. The starting pitching has not been too impressive in their first-three games. Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, and Mike Leake combined to allow twenty-three hits and eleven earned runs over fourteen and two-third innings. Their collective strike out totals matched their walk totals at seven. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Cardinals needed to call upon the pen prior to the fifth inning.
You may recall the 2015 rotation posted a 2.99 ERA for the season. Last season it wasn’t until April 25th that a starter needed to rely upon assistance from the pen prior to completing five full innings of play. Admittedly, following their respective starts, Wainwright stated his curveball wasn’t working, Wacha had concerns related to his changeup, and Leake recognized issues with his fastball command.
Defensively, the Cardinals committed four errors. Offensively the Redbirds struck out thirty-seven times in one hundred sixteen plate appearances, and were three for twenty-two with runners in scoring position.
Poor play and execution? Yes. Multiple missed opportunities? Yes. An urgent need for Cardinal Nation to cry Gloom and Doom? No!
There are one-hundred fifty-nine games left. It’s not where you start the season; it’s where you finish. The Pirates are a good team, so are the Cardinals. Thursday is a travel day for the Redbirds. Friday the Cardinals shall be in Atlanta to visit the Braves. Taking the hill for St. Louis is Jaime Garcia (0-0); for the Braves Matt Wisler at 6:35PM CDT at Turner Field.
Thanks for reading!