Don’t crucify him yet, NLC still up for grabs

 

Friday night, after the Cards/cubs game (and replay) was over, I was watching the Yankees/Red Sox.  Once that was over, I switched to the Reds/Brewers tilt.  (Wife went to bed early, and the kids are at their dad’s this weekend)  After that glorious walkoff, I kept the party going, and switched to the Cleveland/Oakland game.  Half of those games were relaxing, leisurely baseball enjoyment.  The other two were a little more important, as far as I’m concerned.

Westbrook went out Friday afternoon in the Wrigley sun, and did what he’s been doing in his last few starts.  He sucked.  In his last four starts outings, Jake has surrendered 24 earned runs (20 of which in the last 3 appearances).  He’s not had more Ks than BBs since July 24, which was a pretty good outing:  7IP  9H  3ER  0BB  2K,  W (vs. PHI…at Busch).  Since that time, he’s really struggled, though the August 7th game isn’t really fair to call his.  At least he went 6 2/3 on Friday, he hadn’t gone more than 5 since that July 24th start.

If you’re being fair and reasonable, though, you can’t put it all on Westbrook.  As I mentioned in my last post, Matheny has a lot to do with it, especially that game on the 7th.  And let’s face it, lately Jake’s sort of been the anti-Lance Lynn when it comes to run support.  The Cards offense has been streaky lately, scoring a ton, or not much at all, and not many extra base hits in the games when they’ve not scored much.  Support for Westbrook lately below:

  • No runs today @ CHC
  • 4 runs vs. LAD (Miller’s start)
  • 3 runs @ CIN
  • 2 runs @ PIT

Frankly, that’s not good enough when you’ve got a starter that’s struggling like that.  Good teams are able to wade through muck sometimes when their pitching struggles, because the defense and/or hitting picks them up.  Vice-versa-vice, vice-vice-versa, or whatever it would be called when you introduce a third scenario.

What really grabbed my attention was brought up in an exchange I had on twitter following Lucroy’s walkoff bomb off Chapman (which was almost as cool to see as Denorfia’s a couple weeks ago, but more exciting because of the NLC implications).

Tweet2

Dude.

It’s not good when on August 16th, your timeline blows up over a Brewers-over-Reds game just having ended.  It’s far too early to be so reliant on other teams, folks.  For most of the season, this has been a Cardinals team in charge of their own destiny, and for a few weeks now, they just look lost most of the time.  Turning to the Brewers, hoping they can beat the Reds to keep the Cards from falling into (gasp!) third place?  Not good, man.  Not good at all.

I’m not here to preach gloom & doom, though.  I’ve long said that I’m a self-proclaimed ‘realistic optimist’, though I’ll save you the trouble of looking, and openly admit here to writing the words, “this isn’t 1964 folks” back in 2011.  As magical as things were going at the time, surely the Braves wouldn’t “pull a ’64 Phillies”, would they?  Well, we know how that turned out, and I’m happy to have been wrong.  Gene Mauch probably was too.

The reason for my optimism is fairly easy:  The schedules.

I know the Cards have struggled to beat the teams they’re supposed to beat.  Hell, they’ve struggled to beat anybody lately.  There are some pretty weak teams ahead for the Cardinals to go up against, though.  Perhaps you see my reason for optimism?  Consider that after the Cards finish the current series on the north side, the remainder of the season looks like this:

  • @ MIL for three
  • vs. ATL for four
  • vs. CIN for three
  • @ PIT for three
  • @ CIN for three
  • vs. PIT for three
  • vs. MIL for three
  • vs. SEA for three
  • @ COL for four
  • @ MIL for three
  • vs. WAS for three
  • vs. CHC for three

Awful lot of cupcakes sittin’ out there between now and the end of September.  Even the games that aren’t are division games, like that CIN-PIT-CIN-PIT stretch after ATL comes to Busch.  The Cardinals’ future is in their hands, and there’s really not much need (or at least shouldn’t be) for relying on other teams to “help us out” at this point in the season.  I know what you might be thinking, and Pittsburgh’s schedule the rest of the way is fairly soft, too.  But with games left against the Cardinals (as long as the gap doesn’t get too wide), anything can happen.

Oh, and tip your cap to ol’ Abner, because just as the Redbirds wrap up their regular season against the cubs, the Pirates finish their regular season against who?  The Cincinnati Reds.

 

 

 

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