“Even the Mona Lisa’s falling apart.”
After a fortuitous start to the season, the Cardinals managed to hit a rough patch for a couple weeks. While the Cardinals managed to go 35-18 in the first two months, they stumbled at the end of June and lost seven of nine games, going 14-14 in June as a result.
Thankfully, the Cardinals got a bit of a break heading in to the All-Star break, facing the Marlins, Astros, and Cubs. Although the Cardinals fell flat when they visited Miami, they took full advantage of the Marlins’ anemic lineup at home, sweeping Miami this weekend.
The wins weren’t pretty, nor were they really indicative of the Cardinals’ strengths, but Jake Westbrook pitched seven innings of one-run ball on Friday, Matt Adams and Shane Robinson came up with big pinch-hits Saturday, and Lance Lynn earned his eleventh win Sunday with yeoman’s effort.
So what went wrong during that recent slide? Well, for one, save for a few select explosions, the offense went pretty silent.
– Matt Holliday’s been dealing with a stiff neck and clearly hasn’t been the offensive force we’re accustomed to seeing. From June 21 until July 6, Holliday slashed .179/.289/.256. He did hit a home run in yesterday’s game, but you can’t help but wonder whether he’s facing the inevitable slow decline. Since he set a career high for OPS in 2009, his batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage have all decreased every year.
– David Freese managed to get his lines up to .292/.277/.333 on June 15, but since then he’s hit just .206.
– Pete Kozma’s been mired in an extensive slump. Since May 27 until yesterday’s game, he slashed .177/.191/.230.
– Even Yadier Molina hasn’t been immune to a slump this season. He still leads the league with a .346 average, so you really can’t nitpick a whole lot, but since June 19, he’s managed to hit .255/.293/.418. The recent MRI on his knee came back negative for structural damage, so he’s hoping to return Tuesday. Still, at this point, it might be a good idea to rest him a few more games before the All-Star break. Still a long way to go this season.
The starting pitching, though, has been a more obvious culprit.
– Once the clear front-runner for National League rookie of the year, Shelby Miller went through a very rough stretch of three bad starts in four games, during which he gave up 13 earned runs in just 18.1 innings. His start against Oakland on June 28, he didn’t make it out of the second inning, giving up five earned runs in just 1.2 innings. He rebounded nicely against the A’s on Wednesday, but the Cardinals will face a tough question in the second half regarding his inning limit.
– Meanwhile, Lance Lynn’s ERA went up nearly an earned run in the five starts prior to yesterday. In those five starts, he’s gone 30.2 innings and given up 21 earned runs. He pitched a solid game yesterday, getting the win by going seven innings and giving up just two earned runs, so we’ll see if he’s turned the page on his struggles.