Jhonny Peralta will play better than this. Peter Bourjos will improve and not serve as air conditioning for fans with his habitually late swing and complete lack of timing. Matt Adams will buckle down. Right? For St. Louis Cardinals fans, this has to be refrain they go to bed with, because after the first two games the team is 1-1 — and quite frankly lucky to be that. Slugging a whopping eight hits through two games, the club looks like it is having Jon Lester flashbacks going up against the Cincinnati Reds.
A few worrisome signs are the newcomers not performing at all, and some of the holdovers — notably Matt Carpenter and the aforementioned Adams — looking a wee bit too comfy in their newly cemented starting roles. While the pitching has been stellar, as was widely expected, the team has very little speed aside from Bourjos and 2B Kolten Wong, who are not getting on enough to run. Thick-legged, they rely on a sequence of hits in order to push runs across, and for all of their actual contact ability, do not have a true bona fide power hitter aside from perhaps Adams, who has been shoddy defensively and unfocused at the plate. While teams like the Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates have dynamic multi-tooled lineups, the Cardinals look plodding and at times out of sync.
What might be most maddening, however, is that the team is being thick-headed by continually taking way too many pitches at the plate, a trait that seems to trace to Carpenter’s arrival. While patience is generally a virtue, opposing pitchers are essentially free to get ahead in the count with fat fastballs as there seems to be a book on the team the opposition is following.
The Cardinals are still a very good team with championship potential and equivalent character, but something does not feel quite right about this edition. Perhaps it is all of the newcomers or perhaps it is just a matter of finding a rhythm, but whatever it is, it must be remedied quickly in order to compete in the ultra-competitive National League. The Cardinals need to remind themselves that in order to fly, they need to swing.