Favored to win the NL Central before the season, the St. Louis Cardinals have had a hugely disappointing start to the year and already face an uphill battle.
The Cardinals are currently 16-25, find themselves last in the NL Central and are 7.5 games behind the first place Milwaukee Brewers.
For a team that had a win total of over or under 88.5 to start the season, they are going to need to really dig in to turn their season around. There are several factors that have led to this disastrous start, including their woeful starting pitching and unreliable lineup outside of Paul Goldschmidt.
As mentioned, the starting pitching for the Cardinals has been dreadful. That is why the Cardinals as a whole have an ERA of 4.54 and rank 22nd in the MLB. This number is actually worse if you just look at their starting pitchers.
Of the players who have started the season for the Cardinals, they have allowed 122 earned runs in 203.1 innings. This is an ERA of 5.41 and includes the following starting pitchers: Jordan Montgomery (4.11 ERA), Miles Mikolas (4.91 ERA), Jack Flaherty (6.18 ERA), Steven Matz (5.62 ERA), Jake Woodford (5.40 ERA), and Adam Wainwright (7.20 ERA).
The combined record of these starting pitchers this year is 6-16, so not even half of the wins for the Cardinals as a whole.
To no surprise, the Cardinals' bullpen has also been struggling to start the season. They are slightly better than the starting pitching as a whole, posting an ERA of 4.20, but still, this is a number that is far too high this early in the season.
The bullpen tends to keep the Cardinals in some of their games, but still have a combined record of 8-9. If the Cardinals are going to turn their season around, the bullpen will need to improve significantly to be able to close out games should they have leads deep into their games.
As atrocious as the Cardinals' starting pitching has been, their hitting is not terrible, just a little inconsistent. As a team, the Cardinals are hitting .258, which surprisingly ranks ninth in the league. They are averaging 4.53 runs per game though, which is just in the top half of the league at 12th.
Their offense is led by no other than Goldschmidt, who is batting .316 on the season which leads the Cardinals. After Goldschmidt, the numbers drop off significantly with Nolan Arenado batting .252, Wilson Contreras batting .263, Tommy Edman batting .237, and Nolan Gorman batting .261.
Gorman is leading the team in home runs with eight, while Goldschmidt is second with seven, but the Cardinals need their guys to hit for average right now to increase their run production.
If you believe the Cardinals can turn their season around, you can bet them at odds of +4500 to win the World Series, +2200 to win the National League, +500 to win the NL Central, and +225 to make the playoffs.