The Three Factors In the St. Louis Cardinals Recent Surge

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Three Factors In the St. Louis Cardinals Recent Surge


The Three Factors In the St. Louis Cardinals Recent Surge


The St. Louis Cardinals are the hottest team in baseball after their worst start since the 1970s. They’ve won eight of their last ten games, the best record in the majors over that span. They are still six games out of the National League Central lead, but that is a major step up from being in last place in the NL just a few weeks prior. How have the Cardinals managed to suddenly course correct?

Nolan Arenado is back

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

After the worst month of his career, Nolan Arenado is back to playing like one of the best hitters in baseball. From April 23 to May 4, Arenado did not have a single run batted in. The seven-time All-Star has been on a tear lately with six home runs in his last seven games, including three over the green monster at Fenway Park. Whatever mental hurdle was blocking him, he seems to have gotten over. He has escaped a slump that plagued him all of April, but most importantly, he has reenergized the bench. 

Leadership has always been one of Arenado’s best attributes, and the Cardinals were in desperate need after their pitiful start to the year. Oli Marmol has not had command of the clubhouse and has lost the fanbase’s trust. Veterans like Arenado, Goldschmidt, and recent returnee Adam Wainwright have brought stability back to the lineup as the team steers back in the right direction.

Reinforcements in the starting rotation

Not only is Adam Wainwright back after starting his final year on the injured list, but former first-round pick Matthew Liberatore was just called up to the majors. The lefty and highly-regarded prospect spent some time last year on the MLB roster but did not do enough to become a mainstay in the rotation or the bullpen. In five innings, Liberatore struck out six batters and gave up just three hits en route to a 3-0 Cardinals win. He’s only started one game so far, but that one start was better than anything fellow Southpaw Steven Matz, who is still winless, has had all year. 

The Cardinals need Liberatore to finally break through to provide a boost to a rotation with one of the lowest ceilings in baseball. As a top-five prospect in the organization, he has the upside to develop into a high-end young arm, something the team hasn’t had since Jack Flaherty first entered the league. Wainwright’s presence in the locker room and in the dugout returns leadership and experience that was missing during their original losing skid. His best days on the mound are far behind him, but he can still put together quality starts and be a rallying force in the clubhouse.

The “other guys” have stepped up

The offense has never been the primary issue for the Cardinals this year, but their hitters were still underperforming to start the season. Outside of Paul Goldschmidt and breakout star Nolan Gorman, the lineup was hitting below expectations as a whole. Dylan Carlson, Tyler O’Neill, and Alec Burleson are all hitting .230 or lower. Andrew Knizner was under a .200 batting average until the second week of May. Even Tommy Edman, one of the most consistent players in the league in 2022, was hitting under .240 until getting eight hits in three games against Milwaukee. 

Paul DeJong, Knizner, and Lars Nootbaar coming back from his injury have all been key pieces in the Cardinals’ recent offensive surge. Rookie outfielder Oscar Mercado went 3-4 in his Cardinal debut against the Dodgers on May 18. 

Arenado, Goldschmidt, and Willson Contreras are all expected to perform at a high level consistently. When the rest of the bats are hot, St. Louis’ offense is unstoppable.

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