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Cardinals Have a Tough Schedule the Rest of the Way, and That’s a Good Thing

The computers are still spitting out nasty numbers on the Cardinals’ playoff chances. Both Baseball Prospectus and Fangraphs give the Cards a 14.2% shot at returning to the postseason for the first time since 2015.

BP gives seven National League teams a better chance to get there than St. Louis; Fangraphs has eight NL teams listed with a more favorable probability. The difference: Baseball Prospectus has St. Louis with stronger odds than Pittsburgh; Fangraphs rates the Pirates (14.9% slightly ahead of the Cardinals.

The Cardinals have a tough schedule the rest of the way. They’ll play nine games against three teams that are out of playoff contention: Royals, Tigers and Reds. They have three games against an opponent, the Giants (57-59), who appear to be fading away. So at most, only 12 of STL’s final 47 games will be played against an also-ran.

On the other side of this: the Cardinals will have 35 of their 47 games against seven opponents who were a combined 68 games above .500 on Friday morning. And all seven are either sitting in a playoff position right now — or competing for one: Dodgers (7 games), Cubs (3), Brewers (6), Rockies (3), Pirates (6), Braves (3), Nationals (7.)

The schedule could chew the Cardinals up. Or the schedule could give the Cardinals a boost, a lift, and a better crack at making the postseason. The Cards have a direct chance to take on fellow NL playoff contenders, carve out some wins, and improve their standing. This will be a rigid test for the Redbirds.

Bird Bytes: 

1. The Kansas City Royals … my goodness:

  • They’re 35-79 overall, and have the second-worst winning percentage (.307) in the majors, just ahead of the Orioles (.304.)
  • The Royals have the worst run-differential in the majors (minus 198.)
  • With a 16-49 record the Royals have the worst home winning percentage (.291) in the majors. Their run differential at home this season is minus 11. The Royals are better on the road (19-40) but not much.
  • Kansas City is last among the 30 MLB teams in average runs scored per game (3.71), and last among the 30 MLB teams in most runs allowed per game (5.45).
  • The Royals have the poorest record in the big leagues when going against opponents who have a record of .500 or better this season: 14 and 47 … and with a run differential of minus 136 in those 61 games.
  • The Royals won the World Series in 1985. In the 33 seasons that followed, including 2018, they have made the playoffs twice, winning the AL pennant in 2014 and 2015 and the World Series in ’15. And over the course of the 33 seasons the Royals have had 10 winning records … including only four winning seasons in the last 24.
  • Since the beginning of the 1986 season Kansas City has the worst winning percentage in the majors (.460) and is 411 games below .500 entering this weekend’s home series against the Cardinals.
  • The Cardinals last qualified for the postseason in 2015, but since the start of the 2016 season they have the ninth best winning percentage in the majors, and fourth best in the NL. It’s been a frustrating few years, yes … but this disappointing stretch is NOTHING compared to what the Royals and their fans have gone through.

2. Matt Carpenter, moving up the charts, chasing history. Carpenter goes into Friday night’s game at KC with 31 homers on the season. If he can swat nine more home runs over the final 47 regular season games, Carpenter would become only the third left-handed hitter in franchise history to pop 40+ homers in a season. The other two are Johnny Mize (43 in 1940) and Jim Edmonds (42 in 2000, and 42 again in 2004.) Stan Musial had five seasons of 32+ home runs with a high of 39 in 1948.

3. Let’s reset Carpenter on the NL leaderboard as the weekend begins: He leads the league in Wins Above Replacement (4.9), park adjusted runs created (wRC+ of 161), homers (31), slugging percentage (.598), Isolated Power (.317), OPS (.991) and is tied for first in doubles (33) and wOBA (.410.) Carpenter is third among NL hitters with a .393 OBP.  And he’s tied for fourth in runs scored (77.)

4. Using park-adjusted runs created (wRC+) as the measure, the Cardinals have three above-average lineup regulars since the All-Star break: Carpenter at 138% above the league average offensively; Yadier Molina at 28 percent above the league average offensively; and Marcell Ozuna at 11 percent above the league average.

5. Paul DeJong is the key bat in this offense going forward. Coming off two consecutive power-pop games at Miami — a homer, two doubles and four RBIs — the Cards’ shortstop may be finding his swing again. That would be a significant development; when he’s right, DeJong has impact power. But since returning from a fractured left hand on July 6, DeJong is batting 222. with a .283 OBP and .352 slug in 121 plate appearances.

Let’s sprint to the finish line with quick-hit stats that you may or may not find interesting:

Cardinals pitchers have thrown 484 fastballs at 100+ MPH this season — most in MLB.

Matt Carpenter has pulled 27 home runs to right field this season — most in MLB.

Yairo Munoz is batting .265 (30-for-113) with two strikes this season — 7th best in MLB among hitters with at least 168 PA’s; League Avg: .182

Carpenter has seen 8+ pitches in 22 PA this season — tied for 11th most in MLB.

Carpenter is slugging .674 versus relief pitchers this season — best in MLB; League Avg: .432.

Yadier Molina is hitting .500 (16-for-32) against pitchers who have thrown at least 80 pitches in the game this season — best in MLB among hitters with at least 168 PA’s; League Avg: .261.

Molina has an OBP of .541 (37 PAs) against pitchers who have thrown at least 80 pitches in a game this season — 4th best in MLB among hitters with at least 168 PA’s; League Avg: .334.

Cardinals starting pitchers have allowed a slugging percentage of  .335  vs right-handed batters this season — best in MLB; League Avg: .414.

Jose Martinez is batting .415 (27-for-65) on elevated pitches this season — best in MLB among hitters with at least 168 PA’s; League Avg: .225

J. Martinez has a Well-Hit Avg of .312 (25/80) on inside fastballs this season — best in MLB; League Avg: .155.

Harrison Bader is batting .385 (20-for-52) when leading off an inning this season — 3rd best in MLB among hitters with at least 168 PA’s; League Avg: .254

Carpenter has 15 extra-base hits out of 21 total hits (71.4%) on breaking pitches this season — best in MLB; League Avg: 38.0%

Bader has a groundball batting average of .377 (26 GB hits out of 69 GBs) this season — 2nd best in MLB among hitters. League Avg: .245

Bud Norris has allowed an OBP of just .216 (102 PAs) vs left-handed batters this season — 3rd best among qualified RPs in MLB; League Avg: .320.

Opponents are hitting just .176 (6-for-34) against Jordan Hicks when he’s behind in the count this season — 5th best among qualified RPs in MLB; League Avg: .345.

Yairo Munoz has a groundball batting average of .406 (13 GB hits out of 32 GBs) with runners on base this season — 3rd best in MLB among hitters with at least 168 PA’s; League Avg: .253

Right-handed batters are hitting just .218  against Cardinals starting pitchers this season; that’s the lowest BA against any group of MLB starters. League Avg: .249

Bader is slugging .673 (35 total bases in 52 ABs) when leading off an inning this season — 7th best in MLB among hitters with at least 168 PA’s; League Avg: .432.

Opponents are hitting just .136 (8-for-59) against Jack Flaherty’s inside fastball this season — best in MLB among pitchers with at least 56 innings; League Avg: .254

Jose Martinez is slugging .662 (43 total bases in 65 ABs) on elevated pitches this season — tied for 9th best in MLB among hitters with at least 168 PA’s; League Avg: .389.

Opponents have a Well-Hit Avg of  .021 (1/48) against elevated fastballs from Carlos Martinez this season — best in MLB among pitchers with at least 56 IP; League Avg: .130.

Bud Norris has walked 9 of 188 batters (4.8%) this season — tied for 7th best among qualified RPs in MLB; League Avg: 8.8%.

Right-handed hitters have a Well-Hit Avg of just .056 (6/107) against Jordan Hicks this season — 4th best among qualified RPs in MLB; League Avg: .138.

Opponents are hitting just .227 (5-for-22) against Mike Mayers on the first pitch of at-bats this season — tied for 6th best among qualified RPs in MLB; League Avg: .337

Opponents have a Well-Hit Avg of just .079 (7/89) against fastballs from Bud Norris this season — 3rd best among qualified RPs in MLB; League Avg: .164.

Bud Norris has allowed a slugging percentage of just .232 vs left-handed batters this season — 5th best among qualified RPs in MLB; League Avg: .389.

Cardinals hitters have grounded into only 9 double plays in 143 opportunities (6.3%) in close and late situations this season — 3rd best in MLB; League Avg: 9.6%.

Miles Mikolas has allowed an OPS of just .473 (263 PAs) vs right-handed batters this season — 2nd best among qualified SPs in MLB; League Avg: .683.

Left-handed batters are hitting just .168 (16-for-95) against Bud Norris this season — 10th best among qualified RPs in MLB; League Avg: .239

Jedd Gyorko is slugging .606  against LHP this season — 14th best in MLB among hitters with at least 168 PA’s; League Avg: .424. And Gyorko has a .403 OBP vs. LH pitchers.

Kolten Wong is batting .441 (15-for-34) on the first pitch of at-bats this season — 17th best in MLB among hitters with at least 168 PA’s; League Avg: .343

Molina has swung and missed just 23.1% (34/147) on low non-fastballs this season — tied for 7th best in MLB among hitters with at least 168 PA’s; League Avg: 41.3%.

 Molina is slugging .727 (48 total bases in 66 ABs) on inside fastballs this season — tied for 13th best in MLB among hitters with at least 168 PA’s; League Avg: .452.

Paul DeJong is slugging .618 (47 total bases in 76 ABs) on breaking pitches against RHP this season — 12th best in MLB among hitters with at least 168 PA’s; League Avg: .380.

Cardinals hitters have an OPS of .784 — 5th best in MLB; League Avg: .734.

Jack Flaherty has an ERA of 2.00 (54.0 IP) against division opponents this season — 11th best in MLB among pitchers with at least 56 IP; League Avg: 3.94.

Jedd Gyorko is batting .360 (18-for-50) with RISP this season — tied for 13th best in MLB among hitters with at least 168 PA’s; League Avg: .263

Miles Mikolas has allowed a slugging percentage of just .242  vs right-handed batters this season — 2nd best among qualified SPs in MLB; League Avg: .389.

Cardinals hitters have 22 home runs to the opposite field this season — 2nd most in MLB.

 Carpenter is batting .337 (33-for-98) against right-handed relievers this season — 14th best in MLB among hitters with at least 168 PA’s; League Avg: .251

Jack Flaherty has allowed a slugging percentage of just .210 with two strikes this season — 9th best in MLB among pitchers with at least 56 IP; League Avg: .274.

Jose Martinez is slugging .650 on inside fastballs this season — 8th best in MLB; League Avg: .464.

Mikolas has allowed an OBP of just .231 (260 PAs) vs right-handed batters this season — 3rd best among qualified SPs in MLB; League Avg: .293.

Mikolas has an ERA of 2.01 (71.2 IP) at home this season — 5th best among qualified SPs in MLB; League Avg: 3.69.

Mikolas has induced opposing right-handed batters to ground into 10 double plays in 47 opportunities (21.3%) this season — tied for 2nd best among qualified SPs in MLB; League Avg: 11.6%.

Opponents have a Well-Hit Avg of just .068  against Jack Flaherty on non-fastballs this season — tied for 6th best in MLB among pitchers with at least 56 IP; League Avg: .122.

Right-handed hitters have a Well-Hit Avg of just .082 (20/244) against Miles Mikolas this season — best among qualified SPs in MLB; League Avg: .148.

Cardinals hitters have 37 HRs in just 880 ABs (23.8 AB/HR) against LHP this season — 3rd best in MLB; League Avg: 30.4 ABs Per HR

Carpenter has 14 HRs in just 141 ABs (10.1 AB/HR) versus relief pitchers this season — best in MLB; League Avg: 29.0 ABs Per HR

Cardinals hitters have swung and missed just 18.5% (324/1,756) on pitches 94 mph or greater this season — 3rd best in MLB; League Avg: 21.0%.

Carpenter has not grounded into a double play in 68 opportunities this season.  Bader has not grounded into a double play in 44 opportunities this season . Yairo Munoz has grounded into  only  two double plays in 47 opportunities (4.3%) this season.

Opponents are hitting just .220 (28-for-127) against John Gant’s fastball this season — 9th best in MLB among pitchers with at least 56 IP; League Avg: .270

Yairo Munoz is slugging .462 on breaking balls down and away this season — tied for 8th best in MLB among hitters with at least 168 PA’s; League Avg: .231.

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful weekend…

–Bernie

More: Matt Carpenter Is a Great Leadoff Man. Why Does This Make So Many People Cray Cray?