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Who are the St. Louis Cardinals?

Posted by Pat Gallen, Thu, September 29, 2011 08:26 AM | Comments: 38
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He's not a machine, he's just Albert.

Just who are the St. Louis Cardinals? Well, they’re looking like one of those teams of destiny after an amazing comeback in the NL Wild Card chase. The Phillies had their hand in that, losing 3 of 4 to STL earlier in September, then sweeping the Braves to finish the season out on Wednesday night (which by the way, was the most exciting, improbable, intense night of baseball I’ve ever witnessed).

The Cardinals had a rough start to the 2011 season losing their Ace, Adam Wainwright, to Tommy John Surgery on his right arm. Had he not missed the year, the Cardinals would have given the Milwaukee Brewers a run for their money in the Central Divsion; thats how good Wainwright is.

On September 5, they fell 10.5 games behind the Brewers in the Central and sat 8.5 games out in the Wild Card behind the Braves. It seemed like a mere formality that Atlanta would get in as the fourth team, just because that lead had been so big. But a 17-8 month, coupled with an epic collapse by the Braves, sent St. Louis to the postseason and to a match up with the best team in baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies. It was shades of the 1964 Phillies meltdown that we’re all well aware of. St. Louis completed the regular season with a record of 89-72.

As you know from seeing the Cardinals nine times (or so) every season, their manager is Tony LaRussa, pitching coach Dave Duncan has been a mastermind of the revolution of so many pitchers, and the face of the franchise is Albert Pujols. Let’s dig into this Cardinals team a little bit deeper so you can get to know them before Game 1 of the NLDS on Saturday.

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS:

  • Finished with an equal home and road split, going 45-36 at Busch Stadium and away from it.
  • They finished as the best run scoring team in the NL with 762.
  • The 692 runs allowed by the Cardinals was 170 more than the Phillies. Holy smokes.
  • As a team, they 1st in OPS and 6th in HR
  • Also as a team, they ranked 8th in the National League in ERA and 11th in opponents batting average.
  • Albert Pujols is their leader had a down year by his standards: .299 BA, 37 HR, 99 RBI, .906 OPS.
  • For the first time in his career he didn’t hit .300 and drive in over 100 runs, although it was obviously close.
  • Pujols vs. Phillies lifetime: .279, 13 HR, 45 RBI, .848 OPS. Worst numbers vs. any team in baseball during his career.
  • Matt Holliday hits 4th behind Pujols,but we may not see him. He’s dealing with a hand injury, is day-to-day.
  • Lance Berkman had a rejuvenation in ’11: .302, 31, 93, .959 OPS. His OPS ranks 4th in the NL.
  • Catcher Yadier Molina led the team in hitting at .305 and is a hell of a defensive catcher.
  • Guys like John Jay, David Freese, Skip Schumaker, and Daniel Descalso make up the role players.
  • Rafael Furcal has been dealing with a hamstring injury; his status is also unknown.
  • Chris Carpenter is the Ace and had a terrible start and great finish. 4.52 ERA through May, finished at 3.45.
  • Kyle Lohse is the Game 1 starter against Roy Halladay. 14-8, 3.39 ERA, 111K/42 BB.
  • Jaime Garcia presents a challenge to the Phillies being left-handed, but had an average year; 13-7, 3.56 ERA
  • Beyond them, it’s Jake Westbrook (ugh) and Edwin Jackson (eh).
  • The bullpen is whack: 11th in reliever ERA in NL, blew 26 saves, 2nd most in NL.
  • Dare you to name three RP’s: Motte, McClellan, Rzepczynski, Dotel, Boggs, etc. They can be self destructive.
  • Overall: Great offense, decent 3 starters, not a good bullpen, and Tony LaRussa as manager. It’s a wild ride for STL.
Avatar of Pat Gallen

About Pat Gallen

Pat Gallen has written 1684 articles on Phillies Nation.

Pat is Editor-in-Chief of Phillies Nation. He also covers the Phils for 97.5 FM in Philly.

 
 
  • Posts: 79 branderson925

    Avatar of branderson925

    Nice article.

    What an exhilarating day of baseball. Being a Phillies phan going to school in Boston I’ve witnessed some pure agony and I don’t care one bit. Red Sox fans are the worst, the worst. This whole offseason all I heard was “The Sox are gonna beat the Phils in the Series”. Yeah? Where are the Red Sox now?

    I’m not saying the Phillies are just there yet. They obviously have a lot of ferocious baseball to play before acheiving that ultimate goal of making it to the Series for the 3rd time in 4 four years.

    I’m digging the overview of the Cards. Pretty well thought out and detailed. Not looking forward to facing Garcia, but at least our bats ended on a positive upswing this past week. Hopefully Ryan can launch some October bombs, Rollins sets the table, Pence remains clutch and the staff can do just exactly what they’ve been expected to do: DOMINATE

    GO PHILS

     
    • Posts: 0 papadennis

      Phillies have great pitching,which stops great hitting Cards.But as a Cards fan can you stop them all night every night?I hope not and good luck not to much though…….Cards Fan

       
  • Posts: 1190 Manny

    Avatar of Manny

    Also, whether we like it or not… LaRussa and Madden basically locked up their manager of the year awards. All their moves down the stretch seemed to paid off. Doesn’t mean those moves will always work, but this time they did.

    Also, last night’s Braves game really hurts Crimbel’s chances of getting the ROY… blew the most important save of the year… And to some degree, same goes for Freddie Freeman, who grounded out into DP to finish the game. Yikes.

    Maybe Worley has a chance now?

     
    • Posts: 1190 Manny

      Avatar of Manny

      *Maddon

       
  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Kirk Gibson DEFINITELY wins in the NL ….leading Arizona to a worst -to- first turnaround this season

     
    • Posts: 1190 Manny

      Avatar of Manny

      Hmm I don’t know. As much as I hate LaRussa, I’d vote for him. And voters vote right now, right? (Before the playoffs)… Nobody is even talking about Arizona.

      I rushed to say “locked up”… but it’ll be a two-man race between him and Gibson.

       
      • Posts: 0 Ryan H

        for me its no contest. Gibson by a landslide

         
  • Posts: 1190 Manny

    Avatar of Manny

    Btw, this article does a great job summing up what happened last night. Must read!

    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20110929&content_id=25381504&vkey=news_mlb&c_id=mlb

     
  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Halladay to start Game 1 …according to MLB.com – Cards starter TBA .. I was thinking it would be Garcia, but I forgot they have Edwin Jackson too …

    Arizona did way more with less ….. if Gibson doesn’t win, i’d be absolutely shocked…

     
    • Posts: 576 Brian Sr. of CO

      Avatar of Brian Sr. of CO

      Not sure if it is true, but I just read Lohse is the starter in Game 1.

       
  • Posts: 0 Scott in D.C.

    Losing 6 of 9 to the Cards in the regular season is troubling, but you’ve got to like the pitching matchups.

     
  • Posts: 1190 Manny

    Avatar of Manny
     
    • Posts: 5222 Lefty

      Avatar of Lefty

      I love that, it’s the polar opposite of Joe Girardi, who wouldn’t pitch Mariano last night.

       
  • Posts: 84 Tom

    Avatar of Tom

    Nice article…just remember that the Cards are all about hitting and they hot down the stretch. Pitching is suspect and we only have to face Carpenter once!! Hands down the NL MOY is Gibson!! Everyone already knows about LaRussa, and not to take anything away from the Cards’ accomplishment, but they are mostly there due to the Braves collapse!! The Braves had been flying under the radar thanks to the Sox, but now everyone knows what an epic collapse they just had too!! If the Phils staff, which is collectively the true NL MVP, does it’s job (and please guys no more 0-2 meatballs–bounce that pitch!!), they should be in good shape!!

     
  • Posts: 0 V Dubbb

    Our record vs Cards this season doesn’t really bother me. The Cards are hot but we’re hot too. We broke our 8 game losing streak by sweeping the Braves. And they weren’t easy games either ya know? So it’s safe to say that our boys have turned it on. [Phillies] Red October!!!

     
    • Posts: 0 papadennis

      Also Phillies if you do get past the Cards you will have to get past the Brewers next. Diamondbacks will not beat them.I hope they do though because they are good this year.

       
      • Posts: 576 Brian Sr. of CO

        Avatar of Brian Sr. of CO

        I far more concerned about the Cards (granted the Phillies make it past them). The Cards are hot, the Brewers are not really that hot right now. Not to mention, the Brewers are not a great team on the road to say the least. They have a losing record on the road.

         
  • Posts: 0 Ryan H

    I’ve seen the cardinals alot this year and from seeing them I can virtually guarantee that the Phillies will win at least one game on their terrible bullpen in this series. The pen in STL has been almost comically bad.

     
    • Posts: 0 papadennis

      We do not have a coser . Not a true closer (Cards), but our bull pen has been doing more than the record shows. As a cards fan you will not be our biggest threat, the Brewers are the team to beat in the NL this year. Sorry

       
      • Posts: 0 Don M

        yea Phillise aren’t as big a threat … …as evidenced by our 102 wins, despite an 8-game minor-league club losing streak down the stretch …

        cards backed into the playoffs because the Braves choked… The Cardinals blew their load last night and winning the Wild Card was their goal – .. .Phillies in 4

         
      • Posts: 0 Ryan H.

        hahahahaha. love the false hubris. it’s so cute. but sorry sonny , this phillies team isn’t just one of the best teams in baseball, its one of the best teams IN THE HISTORY of baseball. have a seat pal.

         
      • Posts: 576 Brian Sr. of CO

        Avatar of Brian Sr. of CO

        Oh please. You couldn’t possible be serious! The Cards are a FAR better team than the Brewers! I have a hard time saying a team is the team to beat if they have a LOSING record on the road. They SUCK on the road.

         
  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Their “closer” , Motte, gave up about 15 earned runs in the past two weeks

     
    • Posts: 0 papadennis

      Motte is not our closer LaRussa picks who hot at any given time this year. Also Duncan keeps his book of stats on which player can not hit for power against any given pitcher.

       
  • Posts: 2993 Chuck A.

    Avatar of Chuck A.

    Gibson. …. Stone Cold Lock.

     
  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Yahoo is saying Kyle Lohse pitching game 1 vs. Halladay (MLB.com still says TBA)

    Yahoo says game time 12:00 PM eastern… MLB.com still says TBA

     
    • Posts: 0 Don M

      and ESPN is saying Jaime Garcia is their Game 1 starter …

      and both Saturday and Sunday games are 12pm starts ….. I actually prefer that to the 9:oo start times!

       
  • Posts: 0 Jeff

    Kyle is pitching in game one. we will rip them apart

     
  • Posts: 0 Don M

    The Cardinals, the only National League team with a winning record against the Phillies this season – going 6-3 in 9 games, didn’t exactly dominate.

    In 9 games, the Cards scored 34 runs, to the Phillies 32…

    they average 4.7 runs per game to our 4.4
    but they’re team ERA is 3.74 to our 3.02

    and if Motte isn’t your official Closer.. he’s close to it, but that’s why I put it in quotes….. the pen is so shaky that he’s doing the by-committee thing, but over the last month he gave Motte the most opportunities … regardless … Motte, Dotel .. not having defined roles heading into the playoffs is a scary thing for pitchers

     
    • Posts: 0 David

      The Cardinals have a very mediocre bullpen. In two of the games that they won against the Phiilies in the recent series, their bullpen was very shaky in the ninth inning. They gave up a 4 run lead to the Mets last week in the ninth inning too. In one game against the Phillies earlier in the year, the bullpen walked about 6 Phillies in one inning.

       
  • Posts: 2993 Chuck A.

    Avatar of Chuck A.

    Yeah, that 3-6 record vs the Cardinals doesn’t tell the whole story.

    0-2 in May with no Utley and no Pence in the lineup.
    2-1 in June with no Pence.
    1-3 in Sept. – two of the losses came AFTER the Phillies had clinched and essentially were “letting down” and had nothing to play for.

     
  • Posts: 5222 Lefty

    Avatar of Lefty

    Thanks for the usual informative post Pat. The Cardinals are a worthy opponent, certainly much more a threat than the Reds posed last year in the NLDS. It wouldn’t surprise me if this series is the toughest one for us to get through.

    Playoff baseball can be tremendous fun, and alternately nerve wracking. We just gotta believe through the ups and downs, and hopefully when all is said and done, we’ll get to say- Let’s go eat!

     
    • Posts: 0 Ryan H.

      in retrospect its easy to think that the reds last year weren’t so good but I distinctly remember how scared people were of them. they were a prolific offense featuring a runaway MVP winner. and the phillies took them behind the woodshed and whooped em. just like they’re about to do to the cardinals.

       
      • Posts: 5222 Lefty

        Avatar of Lefty

        I like your confidence. But seriously, I think all the teams in the NL this year are better, more well rounded say, than last year. Think about it The Braves are virtually the same, they sucked, The Giants had no hitting / were incredibly lucky, and the the Reds had no pitching. The DBacs, Brewers and Cardinals all seem like better teams to me. Of course the Fightins’ are not too shabby either.

         
    • Posts: 0 John

      I’m not sure I grasp why the Cardinals are supposed to be so much better than the Reds last year – they seem like quite similar teams – very good offense:

      2011 Cardinals: BA .273 OBP .341 SLG .425, 762 Runs
      2010 Reds: BA .272 OBP .338 SLG .436, 790 Runs

      Not particularly great pitching:

      2011 Cardinals: 3.79 ERA, 1.306 WHIP, 1098 SO, 448 BB
      2010 Reds: 4.01 ERA, 1.327 WHIP, 1130 SO, 524 BB

      I

       
  • Posts: 0 Don M

    “Let’s Go Eat… On Broad Street!”

    …… Copyright “Don M”

     
  • Posts: 0 Scott in D.C.

    I think Manuel and Dubee ought to give serious thought to starting Oswalt in Game 3. Given how well he pitched against the Cards in his last start; given the Cards’ power from the right side; given Hamels’ propensity for giving up homers lately (Florida-Milwaukee-Houston-St. Louis-Atlanta) — it makes the most sense.

     
  • Posts: 0 David

    If I was gambling, I would rather take St. Louis than Philadelpha to win the World Series. Not because I think they will win it but I view the 7 to 5 odds for the Phillies at this stage as too low. No history to show that the best team during the year always wins. If you ran a simulation 1000 times with a 5 game series, the Phillies would probably win 700 times. But that means the Cardinals win 30% of the time. That’s just baseball. I think 3 to 1 or 4 to 1 would be more realistic odds.

     
 
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