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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Cardinals days off don’t seem to help

The 2010 Cardinals seem to play worse after having a day off than they did just prior.

AP photo/Winslow TownsonMuch concern has been expressed by St. Louis Cardinals fans about the meat grinder of a schedule that awaits the club over the final weeks of the regular season. If the Florida Marlins August 8 rainout reschedule lands on September 20 as expected, the Cardinals will play 44 games in their final 45 days.

Thursday the 19th is the Cardinals second off day this week and fourth open date in the last two weeks – five if the rainout is counted.

Conventional wisdom says a team welcomes the time away and the rested club plays better afterward. The opposite view is that rhythms and routines are interrupted and days off can be disruptive.

Wondering which is the case for the 2010 Cardinals, I undertook a very unscientific study. I simply looked at the team’s record in the series or partial series just prior to each of their first 15 days off and compared it to their results in the series immediately after.

2010 Cardinals, series record after days off compared to before

Days off Better after Same after Worse after
15 3 4 8

In just one-fifth of the time did the Cardinals win more games immediately after a day off compared to how they were playing just prior. In four cases, they played at same rate before and after. That leaves over half, eight of the 15 times, in which the Cardinals actually played worse just after taking a day off than they had been prior.

In terms of individual games, the Cards are six games over .500 just ahead of a day off and six games under after a rest.

Here are the specifics.

Before day off After day off
Day off Wins Losses Wins Losses Better/Worse
6-Apr 1 0 1 1 Worse
13-Apr 1 0 1 1 Worse
22-Apr 2 1 1 2 Worse
10-May 2 1 0 3 Worse
24-May 2 1 1 2 Worse
3-Jun 2 1 2 1 Same
10-Jun 0 3 1 2 Better
17-Jun 2 1 2 1 Same
21-Jun 2 1 2 1 Same
5-Jul 2 2 0 3 Worse
12-14-Jul 2 1 4 0 Better
26-Jul 1 2 1 2 Same
5-Aug 1 2 1 1 Better
12-Aug 3 0 1 2 Worse
16-Aug 1 2 0 2 Worse
24 18 18 24

I don’t know if this is simply coincidence, but if it really mattered, the long stretch of consecutive days ahead just might turn out to be a good thing.

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