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Things Have Gone From Bad to Worse For The Cardinals

The St. Louis Cardinals start to the season has been a disappointment, but the start to May has been even worse. The team is just 2-8 this month and before a Sunday afternoon 4-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers, they had lost seven straight. The Cardinals have fallen to 16-24 and are eight games behind the Brewers in their division. They are in danger of repeating last season’s last-place finish.

Cardinals Season Going from Bad to Worse

The Offense is Stuck

The Cardinals have the third-lowest team batting average, and in May that has sunk lower, batting just .212 this month. They’ve scored the second-fewest runs in MLB with 28 in May, only 2.8 per game. The Cardinals have hit the fewest home runs in the league this year at 29, less than half the total of the MLB-leading Baltimore Orioles.

“At the end of the day we’re not putting up enough runs,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said after the team’s 5-3 loss to the Brewers on Saturday. “We’re not stringing together quality at-bats. Some guys are trying to do too much. It’s been a struggle.”

Marmol went on to elaborate that some of the issues are mechanical and some of the issues are players trying to hit long home run balls instead of putting together quality at-bats.

The offense took another blow this past week with the injury to catcher Willson Contreras. Contreras has been the team’s most consistent hitter, and now will miss at least six to eight weeks while he rehabs a surgically repaired arm. Even as the team elsewhere gets healthier, they are looking more and more lost at the plate. Most notably in their offensive struggles, former NL MVP Paul Goldschmidt is hitting only .197 while striking out 31.9 percent of the time. His strikeout rate is the 10th highest in the league.

“It’s not rocket science, it’s just kind of the basics of hitting. Getting into a good position to hit for me is probably the most important thing and just putting a good swing on the ball,” Goldschmidt told Bally Sports Midwest before the Saturday loss where he went 1-for-5 with four strikeouts.

Pitching Has Started to Slip

After keeping the team afloat for most of the first month of the season, the pitching for the Cardinals has taken a dive in May. For the month, the Cardinals have a 4.97 ERA, the fourth-highest in baseball. The team ERA in April was 3.71, the 12th best in baseball. As a team, the Cardinals have only struck out 78 batters in May, which is the fifth-lowest number in MLB. In April, they had the 11th-best strikeout total with 216.

The pitchers were much more efficient through the first month of the season, averaging 15.84 pitches per inning. Since the calendar has turned over, that number has jumped to 16.41 pitches per inning. While that may seem like a small increase, it was enough to drop them 10 spots in the league ranks, from the fifth lowest rate in MLB through April, to the 15th in May.

Attendance is Down as the Cards Struggle

Even in down years lately like 2022 and ’23 for the Cardinals, the team averaged more than 40,000 fans per game. This year so far, attendance is averaging 36,849. While that’s still the sixth-highest attendance average in MLB so far in 2024, it’s far lower than the organization is accustomed to seeing. If you take away the pandemic-skewed attendance numbers from the 2020 and ’21 seasons, that average attendance would be the lowest the team has ever had in Busch Stadium Three. It would be the lowest the team has seen since 2003.

While the fanbase is growing restless with multiple years of mediocrity, the ownership argues that fans need to keep showing up if they want the team to compete.

“The thing I chuckle about is when I see sometimes comments ‘we got to not show up to send a message that this isn’t acceptable to the owners’, I find that one somewhat illogical reasoning,” said Cardinals team president Bill DeWitt Jr. on the Scoops Sports Network Podcast. “We just turn this revenue machine into a payroll machine, that’s what this is, it’s business. We try to drive as much revenue as we can, and then it gets put on the field for the most part.”

Trust the Process

The Cardinals front office spent a good portion of the past year re-shuffling their system with a flurry of trade deadline deals in 2023 and offseason signings. President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak was optimistic the team would turn things around in late April when the team was 10-13.

“It’s really just about being patient. These guys know what they’re doing, they know how to do it,” Mozeliak told Bally Sports Midwest at the time. “In time we think it’s going to work out.”

Still, after narrowly avoiding a four-game sweep to their division’s leader, the Cardinals seem to be on the fast track for tough decisions this summer when the trade deadline rolls around.


Photo Credit: © Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports


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