Roughly a third of a way through the MLB season, the St. Louis Cardinals are in an interesting position.
They had one of their worst starts in franchise history, going 10-24 through 34 games. It seemed as if the first season after Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina retired was going to be a rough one. Since then, though, the Cardinals have somewhat rebounded and now sit at 24-31. They've still got a long way to go to make the playoffs, but they aren't completely dead in the water anymore.
That said, this has still been a subpar start overall for St. Louis, especially after two straight playoff appearances. The Cardinals haven't just been disappointing on their own, but have had several players fail to meet expectations as well. There's still enough time for these players to turn it around, but it has to start soon.
With that said, here are three of St. Louis' most disappointing players so far this season.
3. Steven Matz
Most of the Cardinals' struggles this season have to do with the pitching staff. They are near the top of the league in most hitting stats, but are average to below average in most pitching stats. And among the starting rotation, Matz has had the most season so far.
Matz has had a brutal start to this season, his third in St. Louis. In 10 starts and 50.1 innings pitched, he has an 0-6 record, a 5.72 ERA, a 1.75 WHIP and a -0.2 WAR. He has two starts this season allowing six earned runs, against the Colorado Rockies on April 10 and the Cincinnati Reds on May 24, his most recent outing.
It seems the Cardinals might have reached their breaking point with Matz. They are reportedly planning on skipping his next start on Tuesday (one day after his birthday too, ouch), instead starting Miles Mikolas while Matz will be in the bullpen. Unless Matz has a drastic turnaround, his position in the starting rotation looks to be in jeopardy.
Steven Matz’s next start will be skipped, with Mikolas getting the nod Tuesday against KC.
Matz has pitched… pic.twitter.com/guh5kOqmzl
— STL Sports Central (@stlsportscntrl) May 27, 2023
2. Jordan Hicks
The Cardinals' starting rotation has underperformed, but their bullpen has been even worse. St. Louis has just 12 saves on the season, tied for 22nd in the league. And a major reason why the bullpen has struggled has been the poor performance of Hicks.
Hicks has appeared in 21 games and pitched 22.2 innings this season, but his stats aren't pretty, to say the least. He has an 0-3 record. a 4.37 ERA, a 1.54 WHIP, and a WAR of zero. he also has no saves on the season and hasn't had one since he made 14 in 2019.
Credit to Hicks, he has been better recently. His ERA was over 10 for the first couple weeks of the season and over seven in early May, so he has improved substantially. The Cardinals will need this version of Hicks, if not an even better one, to truly turn their season around.
While it's true that the Cardinals' pitching staff has been the source of many of their problems, that doesn't mean their hitting has been perfect. Honestly, it's impressive that their offense has been as good as it has been with one of their best players severely underperforming. That player in question is, of course, Arenado.
Now in his third season with the Cardinals, Arenado's stats have seen a noticeable decline in 2023. He was great last season, posting a .293 batting average, 103 RBIs, 30 home runs and a 7.9 WAR. This season though, he has just a .261 batting average with 35 RBIs, nine home runs and a 0.5 ERA. The RBIs and home runs are about on pace for what he had last season, if not slightly lower, but the batting average and WAR desperately need to come up.
The silver lining is that, like Hicks, Arenado has been substantially better recently. He has had six home runs since May 12, including a five-game streak with one from then until May 16. He has also had 20 hits in 61 at-bats for a batting average of .328, a significant improvement from the .233 it was before this stretch.
It's no coincidence that once Arenado started picking up his game, the Cardinals started winning again. If he can keep this performance up throughout the rest of the season, then the Cardinals should be fine. Based on his body of work so far, though, he has to be on this list.