Cardinals comments: After the first 13 games of the season, we've seen mostly good and some bad from the Cardinals.
They're 9-4 and leading the N.L. Central. That's good, right?
Right. However, 12 of their 13 games have come against Milwaukee, Cincinnati and the Chicago Cubs.
Right now, those teams are 6-7, 5-8 and 3-10 overall, respectively.
So, we've been taking advantage of some teams that haven't played well to this point. You have to take that into account when looking at the Cardinals' five-games-over-.500 record.
But the players on the field can't help the schedule. So you also have to take a look at how they've been performing. And if you take a look at what the offense has done to this point, you may actually wonder why the record isn't better than it is (there's a reason it isn't, but I'll get to that in a minute).
The Redbirds are second in the MLB in team batting average (.293), second in the MLB in slugging percentage (.496), third in the MLB in on-base percentage (.354) and third in the MLB in runs scored (73).
The bats have been there, with a few exceptions thus far. David Freese has kept his hot play from the postseason going. He's hitting .375 and has 13 RBIs and three home runs. He's also slugging .625 and has an OBP of .419. Newcomer Carlos Beltran has stepped in and contributed immediately. He's hitting .333 and has a team-leading five home runs and has driven in seven RBIs. He also leads the team with a .444 OBP and is in the top 10 in the MLB with a 1.111 OPS.
It's not just Freese and Beltran though. Six of the regular starters are hitting better than .300. It's this kind of depth throughout the lineup that has powered the Cardinals in the early part of the season.
And it's amazing to think that they've been able to hit this well without Matt Holliday producing much.
He's hitting a meager .203 and has an OBP of .230. However, he does have three home runs (the same as Freese) and seven RBIs (the same as Beltran).
I'm not ragging on Holliday. It's still early. He has plenty of time to warm up and be the hitter we all know he can be. My point in bringing him up is it's good to see the Cardinals can have an important part of the batting order go through a slump and keep on scoring runs and winning games. As long as multiple batters avoid slumping at the same time, it looks like the Cardinals should be an offensive force in the majors all season long.
Now, on to starting pitching. With Chris Carpenter out to begin the year and Lance Lynn stepping into Carp's spot in the rotation, as well as Adam Wainwright coming back from Tommy John surgery, it was unclear as to how effective the starters could be.
Well, for the most part, it's gone well. Lynn has pitched fairly well in his starts. He's 2-0 and carries an ERA of 1.50. Kyle Lohse has made me look like a fool and pitched really well. He's 2-0, has three quality starts and has an ERA of .89. Jaime Garcia has been decent too, with a 2-0 record, two quality starts and an ERA of 3.06.
So far, the Redbirds have a team ERA of 3.02, which is the sixth best in the majors. We could be higher on that list, but unfortunately, Wainwright seems to be pitching pretty much like a guy who just sat out a season due to Tommy John surgery.
Waino's 0-3 with a 9.88 ERA. Yes, it's early and yes, he's coming back from a major surgery. I understand that. I think his progress throughout something that needs to be watched because either he'll continue to struggle and hold the team back a bit or because he'll eventually get it going again, and who doesn't like watching a healthy Wainwright doing his thing?
As for the bullpen, that worries me as well. It's not as deep as it was last year. Of the guys we picked up in the Colby Rasmus deal, only Mark Rzepczynski remains. And three of the bottom four ERAs on the team are relievers (Victor Marte, 3.52; Kyle McClellan, 4.50; Fernando Salas, 5.40).
With the way the Cardinals can score runs, I hope the bullpen won't be relied on much. When relievers are necessary, hopefully the game will be out of reach for whoever the Cards are playing by the time the reliever comes in.
All in all, though, the Cardinals have been great so far this year. While I'm worried about a couple things (Waino, the bullpen, if they'll rely too heavily on the home run...), I'm not worried about the Cardinals being anything else than N.L. Central Champions at the end of the year.
Blues notes: I'm too angry at my Blackhawks to really talk much about hockey right now. But I'll see what I can do here...
The Blues, taking a cue from the Grateful Dead, have kept trucking. Sure, Jaro Halak went down, but Brian Elliot is there to make sure that doesn't matter at all. And so far, that's what he's done.
One more thing: the Blues (as well as the Sharks) are lucky that, despite a few incidents, this series hasn't been like a lot of the others in terms of the level of violence. It's been played like a playoff series and the line has been crossed a time or two, but for the most part it's been void of major incidents like Pittsburgh/Philadelphia, Phoenix/Chicago, New York/Ottawa and Nashville/Detroit.
And that's good for the Blues because it's hard enough to get through a playoff series when it's played the right way.