THE Cardinals of St. Louis come out of All-Star break 14 games below .500, so organizational focus shifted to next season
This reality will weigh on the club as they return to play with a three-game home run against the Washington nationals Friday
“Right now, I can tell you that we are going to exchange people”, Cardinals President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak told Fox2 News in St. Louis. “I just don’t know if it’s going to be household names or more guys who probably won’t be here next year. It’s easy to talk about what we can or can’t do at the moment, but we’re not am not just going to give away players
“We want to get some value back. We want to get a return that will help us for 2024, and that will really be our focus as we enter the trading period.”
THE Cardinals entered the break winning two of three road games against the Chicago White Sox. Prior to that, they lost six of eight games to seal their fate as a trade time seller
“If there’s anything I can really identify with, I feel like where we need some serious work is our defence, and that starts with me,” Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I just play better defensively and we need good outings from starters. But, at the end of the day, we need to play better defense.
Arenado hit 14 homers in May and June, then posted a 1.239 OPS in his first nine games in July to pace the Cardinals‘ offence. Willson Contreras is 12 for 22 in his last seven games with four walks, four doubles, two homers and five RBIs
Brendan Donovan (5 for 12, home run, three RBI), Dylan Carlson (3 for 8, two home runs, three RBI) and Contreras (4 for 13, two doubles, three RBI) had a great offensive streak for St Louis, while CJ Abrams (6-for-9, double, home run, three-run) played for Washington.
Reconstruction Nationals come into this series having won consecutive games against the Texas Rangers before the break. They’ve won four of their last five series while trying to lay the groundwork for the future
“These guys are all learning and getting better,” Nationals said manager Dave Martinez. “It’s a chore
“When they make mistakes, we try to make them understand what went wrong and what went wrong: ‘This is what we see, this is what you need to do.’ They don’t like to lose. They want to win and they play hard for 27 outs. That’s something that’s really hard to teach.”
One area of concern has been Washington’s inability to control the running game. Catcher Keibert Ruiz has thrown out just 14% of runners trying to steal this season, including just 6% of runners trying to steal second base.
“He’s got a quick release,” Martinez told The Washington Post. “Our pitchers tend not to be even faster, and that gets him in trouble.”
Friday, the Cardinals will send right-hander Miles Mikolas (5-5, 4.23 ERA) to the bump against Washington right-hander Trevor Williams (5-5, 4.45)
Mikolas has made seven appearances (six starts) in his career against Nationals and is 3-3 with a 4.05 ERA against them. Williams, a former Pittsburgh, Chicago Cub and New York Met hacker, took on the Cardinals 21 times with 16 starts, most of any opponent in his career; he’s 5-6 with a 4.98 ERA against St. Louis