St. Louis Cardinals in Review: April Edition

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With May now upon us, it’s time to review the St. Louis Cardinals and where things stand today. The expectations came in high and through 25 games, the Cardinals have shown signs of elite play, and very underwhelming play. The Cardinals sit at 15-10 as of May 6th and sit 2.5 games back of the first-place Milwaukee Brewers.

An Outside Look

I want to start this April review by diving into the team itself, and where it stands within the realm of other Major League teams.

The Cardinals lineup wasn’t elite during April, but more so the same as it was last season. Here are the Cardinals’ hitting stats through April.

.235 Batting Average (BA) – 15th in MLB

.308 On-Base Percentage (OBP) – 17th in MLB

.355 Slugging Percentage (SLG) – 19th in MLB

.663 On-Base Plus Slugging (OPS) – 17th in MLB

The Cardinals rank near the middle of every hitting stat in the big leagues. The lineup hasn’t taken that next step into the top 10, but it doesn’t mean they can’t get there. The pitching has been the strong catalyst of this team, which for me is shocking. Here are their pitching stats through April.

3.15 Earned Run Average (ERA) – 7th in MLB

1.16 Walks Plus Hits Per Inning Pitched (WHIP) – 8th in MLB

178 Strikeouts (SO’s, K’s) – 23rd in MLB

17 Home Runs Allowed (HRs) – 6th in MLB

The pitching staff has thrived through the cold month of April. We were never going to be a top team in strikeouts, but they are higher than I thought before writing this. The pitching as a whole has truly shocked me, and the much-needed step up from our rotation has helped us remain afloat in the early goings of the season.

An In-Depth Look

In this segment, we break down the players who have had the biggest impact on this team through April, the good and the bad. Here you will find individual player evaluations and the future outlook looking into May.

The Good

I want to start with the good. Nolan Arenado sits second in odds on every sportsbook to win the NL MVP. He took home NL Player of the Month honors for April, and rightfully so. He slashed .359/.432/.679 with 6 HRs and 18 RBIs. Not only is Arenado looking like he’s back in his prime years in Colorado, but he’s also looking better than ever. He’s been the only mainstay in this lineup for the Cardinals and is responsible for a handful of their early-season wins.

Paul Goldschmidt started 2022 very cold, but since the weekend trip to Cincinnati, he’s turned it all around. He’s brought his OPS north of .750 and is even starting to get his power back. I expect Goldschmidt and Arenado to continue being the guys for the Cardinals lineup and expect big years from both guys per usual.

Miles Mikolas has been the biggest stand-out to me on the pitching side. He’s been exactly what this Cardinals team needed and then some. In 29.2 innings pitched, he’s let up only 5 earned runs. Mikolas bouncing back to his 2018 days would be a huge boost for a mediocre rotation and has held up the front of this rotation with a struggling Wainwright. He’s been one of the best in Major League Baseball at limiting hard contact and limiting baserunners and has even found himself in above-average territory with his chase rate. I do expect a bit of regression (he’s not a 1.52 ERA guy, and that’s okay) but my expectations have slightly shifted for Mikolas for this season.

The bullpen as a whole has been very good, as expected. Ryan Helsley has taken that next step into being an elite arm, while guys like Giovanny Gallegos and Genesis Cabrera have more than held their own. I expected us to have one of the best bullpens in the league coming into 2022, and they are meeting if not exceeding my expectations.

The Bad

The biggest gamble the Cardinals front office took this offseason was running it back with shortstop Paul DeJong. Somehow, Paul DeJong has been worse than 2021 and looks uncompetitive at the plate for a majority of his at-bats. It seems the Cardinals’ front office is becoming more impatient with the shortstop position, but the change needs to happen now. I am not 100% sure about that change being a guy like Nolan Gorman, but it’s getting to the point where it wouldn’t hurt to try. Personally, I want at least another month of Gorman in AAA, but the move may come sooner than that.

Tyler O’Neill has been flat-out bad in 2022. I understand it’s only May, but I won’t lie by saying I’m not concerned. He’s slashed a .171/.247/.250 with only 1 HR in April. If this Cardinals team is going to compete for a World Series, O’Neill will need to be his 2021 self again.

Adam Wainwright hasn’t been bad, and I believe he’ll figure it out as the season progresses. He’s posted a 4 ERA through April but is still limiting hard contact and inducing ground balls.

Dylan Carlson seems to have hit a rough patch, or as some would call it the sophomore slump. He’s not the same hitter he was at the back half of last year, and the numbers back this up. He’s at a career-high ground ball rate with a career-low line-drive rate, which bodes badly for his entire approach when at the plate.

Last Thoughts, May Preview

I expect May to be a better month for the offense, but a worse month for the pitching staff. I don’t expect the pitching staff to fall off of a cliff, but maintaining what they are doing is not an ideal expectation.

I believe the front office will turn away from Paul DeJong, and look elsewhere at shortstop. I believe Tyler O’Neill will get back into somewhat of a groove, and the offense will start to gel a bit more.

Overall it was a solid month. I won’t complain about a 15-10 start. I look forward to updating this at the end of May with a little bit of a brighter outlook, but for now, they need to at least keep pace with the Brewers. Cheers.

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