Bernie’s Redbird Review: Surely, The Cardinals Offense Is Better Than This. Right? Hello?

It was another quiet night for the vile St. Louis offensive, and it was nothing new. The at-bats in the lineup were beaten and largely lifeless in a 3-0 loss to the Mets on Tuesday at Busch Stadium, with the NY Pitchers shutting down the Cardinal Hitters with three hits.

Once again, the cards were in the hands of an opposing starting pitcher as right-hander Chris Bassitt drove through an easy six-inning task with no stress.

It’s over, isn’t it? The Cardinals are certainly not that helpless on offense. Surely they’ll bounce, do a more intense competitive job, and occasionally hit the baseball over the outfield wall or cash in runs with timed hits. Surely this is just a phase, a burglary, a snoozing phase for the wood.

The Cards enter Wednesday at 12:15 p.m. with a three-game losing streak. They’ve lost four of their last six.

The BFIB play their biggest hits: berating John Mozeliak, questioning the owners’ financial obligation to win, snarling about hitting coach Jeff Albert, demanding that Paul DeJong be sent to Peoria, and calling for strong hitter Nolan Gorman to be promoted to the Big League, and revisit the trade with Randy Arozarena.

The nostalgia season shouldn’t be a tribute to Dal Maxvill and his .220 batting average over 11 seasons as a Cardinal. It shouldn’t make us think about Ty Wigginton and the wonderful moments he gave us at 9 for 57 in 2013. Where have you gone, Matt Carpenter? He’s hitting .488 at Triple A Round Rock, a Texas subsidiary, so maybe GM Mike Girsch can call the Rangers. Is Dexter Fowler busy?

So yes, this would be a good time for the STL Offensive to clear the jams, blast some pitchers, load up the scoreboard and liven up the season.

REDBIRD REVIEW

SCHEDULE STRENGTH: The Cardinals have an early day record of 9-7. Will they be shamed by the better teams? They’re 2-4 against opponents who currently have winning records and 4-5 against teams who are .500 or better. The Cardinals have been battling for the losing teams, winning five out of seven.

THIS IS WHAT A BREAK-IN LOOKS LIKE: First of all, we don’t ask for much. We’re not asking about the 1930 Cardinals, who averaged a franchise-record 6.52 runs per game over a 154-game schedule. If the Cardinals have conceded at least four runs for their pitchers in a game this season, they’re 7-2. But if the Cardinals get three runs or fewer, they’re 2-5.

Notes and updates scraped out on deadwood:

The Cardinals have a home run this season from an outfielder created by Tyler O’Neill on Opening Day.

In their last 10 games, the Cards have averaged 2.6 runs, batted .199, batted .260, staggered to .546 OPS, and slammed in 24.5 of their plate appearances.

During the current three-game losing streak, the Cardinals have hit three runs in 27 innings, batted .156 and knocked out 30 percent of the time. They are also 2 for 19 with runners in goal position in the three straight losses.

The Cards continue to drop in the MLB rankings for offense. After Tuesday’s clean sheet against the Mets, they are 18th in runs per game (3.88), 19th in batting average (.226), 19th in slugging percentage (.347) and 18th in OPS (.655).

The boys haven’t homed in their last six games, Team Cardinal’s longest streak since the 2015 season. And early in Wednesday’s game, the cards went 202 at-bats without hitting a home run. Due to the extreme lack of performance, the Cardinals have slipped to 21st in the majors, averaging just 0.81 home runs per game. That’s quite a difference from their average of 1.8 home runs in the first six games.

Beginning with the Milwaukee series, the Cardinals are batting just .198 and batting .260 with runners in goal position.

The starting pitchers have a 3.86 ERA against St. Louis this season. But in the last 10 games, the starting pitch ERA against the Cardinals is 1.79. The Redbirds have failed to pick up a deserved run against an opposing starter in five of their last 10 games. And opposing starters have held the Cardinals to no more than a deserved run in seven of their last 10 games.

The Cardinals didn’t score a single run in 33 combined innings against Brandon Woodruff, Sandy Alcantara, Pablo Lopez, Max Scherzer and Chris Bassitt.

INDUSTRY-WIDE POWER OUTAGE: Home run rates have been down in MLB this season. Last season, MLB players hit all 27 at-bats and batted .411. So far this year hitters are all targeting 36.5 at-bats and hitting a weak .368. Pitchers allowed 1.3 home runs per nine innings last season; That rate is 0.9 homers per 9 IP so far this season. That doesn’t excuse the Cardinals’ impotence in recent weeks.

FOCUS ON THE OUTFIELD: It’s time to update a recent note I submitted last week. The Cardinals’ outfield — so big for the last three months of last season — is looking for… something. The outfield contingent led by starters O’Neill, Harrison Bader and Dylan Carlson is batting just .199, batting .260 and hitting base at a rate of 27 percent in 204 plate appearances. The collective St. Louis Outfield OPS (.529) ranks 29th out of the 30 MLB outfields. The Cards outfielders underperform offensively in park-and-league-adjusted runs by 38 percent. Time to get things moving, men.

THANK YOU FOR STOPPING FROM RUNNING: Remember when we were all worried about pitching going into season in St. Louis? Hey, there might come a time when in 2022 we find ourselves on the fainting couch over the team’s pitching. But for now, let’s express our appreciation for the overall pitching performance. The Cardinals only allow 3.06 runs per game, which is the fourth best tally in the majors. Her team’s ERA of 3.02 ranks fifth best in MLB.

FINE WORK, BULLPEN MEN: The Cardinal bullpen allowed just one earned run in seven innings after taking on pitcher Jordan Hicks (bruised wrist) in Tuesday’s loss. Nice work from Andre Pallante, Nick Wittgren, Packy Naughton, Kodi Whitley and Aaron Brooks. And the only run the bullpen allowed came in the ninth inning after home plate umpire Mark Wegner missed a strike-3 call that would have ended the inning.

The St. Louis pen ranks fifth in the majors with an ERA of 2.52. Thirteen of the 18 earned runs scored against STL reliefs so far this season have been marked with three guys: Giovanny Gallegos, Aaron Brooks and Drew VerHagen who have a combined ERA of 6.38. But the other nine STL reliefs have allowed just five earned runs in 46 innings for a .97 ERA. The nine are Ryan Helsley, Genesis Cabrera, Hicks, Whitley, Pallante, Naughton, Wittgren, TJ McFarland and Jake Woodford.

BY THE WAY: Wasn’t Packy Naughton a character in the HBO series Boardwalk Empire starring Steve Buscemi?

QUICK NOTE ABOUT GIOVANNY GALLEGOS: By 2021, the right-hander had a positive track record against left-handers. But 2022 will be a different story as LH bats hit .455 vs Gallegos. And his strikeout rate against LH racquets is just 11.6 percent. (Last season it was 30.7%.) Gallegos has only dealt with 11 left-handed hitters this season, so I’m not jumping to conclusions. But it’s something to keep in mind.

CAP TIP: Rookie reliever Andres Pallante was chipped for a deserved run in his major league debut on April 10. But in his last four appearances, Pallante has given the Cardinals 8.1 scoreless innings – allowing for a .200 batting average and a .426 OPS over that time. Pallante ranks second among MLB rookie reliefs to play at least 9 innings this month with a .96 ERA. The only rookie to outclass Pallante so far is Tanner Banks (White Sox). Banks hasn’t given up an earned run in his 10.1 innings.

WHAT HAPPENED TO DYLAN CARLSON? Yes. It’s early and everything. But Carlson is perhaps the most frustrating hitter on this team to date. As a rookie last season, Carlson struggled through a challenging first half but came through with a respectable .735 OPS. He really came after the All-Star break and hit .279 with an .847 OPS. And his power play produced an impressive .505 slugging percentage in the second half.

Rather than building on his success in the second half of 2021, Carlson has declined in his first month of 2022, hitting 0.194 with 0.488 OPS.

Carlson’s contact profile is enigmatic:

➤ Hardness: 31% last year, 16.7% now.
➤ Avg. Exit speed: 88.2% last year, 83% now.
➤ Barrel percentage: 7% last year, 0% now.
➤ Soft contact: 12.3% last year, 26% now.
➤Ball rate: 40% last year, 52% now.

Another problem is Carlson’s habit of chasing pitches out of the hitting zone. Last season he did that 24 percent of the time. This year, his tracking rate is 30%.

Carlson is 1 for 19 against breaking balls this season.

IT’S MATCHDAY: Good luck to Steven Matz today as he competes against the team that designed and engineered him. The Cardinals will face another high-end starter in Mets right-hander Carlos Carrasco. In his three starts against Washington, Arizona and San Francisco, Carrasco has a 1.47 ERA in 18.1 innings. He dropped 20 and only walked two. Only 12 of 67 thugs reached base against Carrasco. And right-handed bats are 3 for 24 against him (.125.) Left-handed bats haven’t done much better, hitting .150 in 40 at-bats.

Thank you for reading …

-Bernie

Bernie invites you to listen to his quirky and analytical sports talk show on 590-AM The Fan, KFNS. It airs Monday through Thursday from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Friday from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. You can listen to it via online streaming or download the Bernie Show podcast from 590thefan.com – the 590 app works great and is available in your favorite app store.

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Please email your Ask Bernie questions to BernScoops@gmail.com

All statistics used herein are from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, Stathead, Bill James Online, Fielding Bible, Baseball Savant, and Brooks Baseball Net unless otherwise noted.

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