The St. Louis Cardinals 2018 season was a roller coaster, with alternating ups and downs all through the spring and summer. When all was said and done, though, the Redbirds missed the postseason for the third year in a row.
July struggles cost manager Mike Matheny his job, leading the Cardinals to a sort of resurgence under interim manager Mike Shildt, who ended up landing the full-time job.
This team needs a shakeup this offseason, and we’ll see if GM John Mozeliak can deliver a squad that can keep up with the resurgent Milwaukee Brewers and big-spending Chicago Cubs in the NL Central.
Missing the postseason is not acceptable in St. Louis, so this recap will be more bad than good. However, there was some good, so here’s a look at some of the highs and lows from the past season:
This is both a positive and a negative, as many Cardinal fans were happy that Matheny was let go. Indeed, it seemed the players liked it, too, as they went an incredible 22-6 in August after Matheny was fired on July 14.
However, the good news was quickly blown out of proportion (as is common with the Cardinals). Shildt was given a three-year contract to be the full-time manager on Aug. 28 and then proceeded to go 1-5 in the last six games of the season against the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs to blow a chance at the playoffs.
I like Shildt, but there was no rush to hire him full-time. The Cardinals really overreacted here and we’ll see if it hurts them over the next couple of years.
Out fielders Harrison Bader and Adolis Garcia, infielders Yairo Munoz and Paul DeJong, starters Luke Weaver, Jack Flaherty, Austin Gomber, and relievers Jordan Hicks and Dakota Hudson all made huge contributions to this year’s team, and they were all born in 1993 or later. Add in injured starter Alex Reyes and the Cardinals have a strong young core of players.
Moving forward, those players will need to continue to develop and provide the strength of this Cardinal team.
Matt Carpenter Still Has It
It’s clear now that Carpenter was nowhere near 100 percent when the season started. He had an absolutely horrendous April, but managed to dig himself out of that hole and was even in MVP consideration until he slumped a bit down the stretch.
After batting a measly .155 (with two home runs and 10 RBI) through the end of April, the fact that he finished the year at .257 with 36 homers and 81 RBI is nothing short of incredible. He’s a fine option at third base (or first base) as long as he’s healthy. Hopefully he can enter 2019 closer to 100 percent than he entered the 2018 campaign.
The Cardinals had the fourth-worst bullpen ERA in the National League at 4.38. The unit struggled a lot throughout the year, blowing 21 saves.
The Greg Holland signing (which I liked at the time) blew up in their faces, as he never found his rhythm in St. Louis. The Brett Cecil experiment has been a disaster, and Bud Norris tailed off dramatically down the stretch.
Something needs to change in 2019, but the Cardinals probably still need to find an established closer. Hicks is probably a year or two away from being able to consistently handle the ninth inning.