The St. Louis Cardinals have completed the first 38 games of the 2014 regular season the same way they began – at .500. The just-completed road trip was challenging for the defending World National League Champions. St. Louis lost series at the homes of division mates Chicago and Pittsburgh and finished at 4-5 after eking out a Sunday night win to avoid being swept by the Bucs.
Overall, the Cardinals began their season with 12 home games and 26 away contests, the most disadvantageous early schedule in Major League Baseball. That is a fact, caused by the whims of the anonymous schedule-makers.
St. Louis is just 7-5 at home and 12-14 on the road and sits five games behind Milwaukee in the NL Central Division standings. The Cards are exactly even in day and night games at 8-8 and 11-11, respectively, and are 7-8 in one-run decisions. The club has yet to either sweep or be swept in any of their first 12 series. Their longest winning streak was four games; the longest losing skid was just two contests.
The Cardinals’ pitching does not seem to be the primary problem. They are ranked fourth in the National League in ERA and fifth in strikeouts, though holding leads has been a recent bullpen concern.
On the other hand, the offense is middle of the pack at best – 11th in runs scored and a batting average of just .233 with runners in scoring position.
Starting Monday night against Chicago, the schedule pendulum finally swings in the other direction as the Cardinals will play 19 of the next 22 games at Busch Stadium. Other upcoming home opponents include Atlanta, Arizona, the Mets, San Francisco and Kansas City.
The question on the table is how much slack the under-performing team should be given because of the early schedule.
What is your take?