Milwaukee Brewers: Why the St. Louis Cardinals won’t win the division

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 29: Travis Shaw
ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 29: Travis Shaw /

The Milwaukee Brewers are ‘all-in’ for 2018, but they still need to worry about a few teams in their division. The St. Louis Cardinals have also reloaded for 2018. However, there are several reasons why they won’t win the division title.

The St. Louis Cardinals have been a model of consistency for almost 20 years. The last time they finished under .500 was 2007. Before that, it was 1999. Few teams can match their track record over the last two decades.

So, what happened in 2017?

The St. Louis Cardinals were 83-79 last year and finished three games behind the Milwaukee Brewers. Eight Cardinals based more than 10 homers. Only Stephen Piscotty, Aledmys Diaz, and Greg Garcia received regular playing time and posted an OPS under .750.

Their offense was solid all around and saw breakouts from Tommy Pham and Paul DeJong.

How was their pitching?

Their starting staff was solid outside of Adam Wainwright, but their bullpen was rough. Trevor Rosenthal suffered a season-ending elbow injury, and Seung-hwan Oh‘s Cardinal Magic wore off. Kevin Siegrist went on the DL twice, and then got DFA’ed.

Tyler Lyons and John Brebbia enjoyed solid seasons, but it’s unclear if the team has faith in them for high-leverage situations.

So, they added a bunch of arms this off season, right?

No. They added Miles Mikolas to round out their rotation, but have zero interest in bringing back Lance Lynn. Their rotation is the same cast of characters from last year, minus Lynn and plus a guy who hasn’t pitched in Major League Baseball since 2014.

The Cardinals brought in Luke Gregerson, but let Oh and Rosenthal walk. They did deal for Dominic Leone, who appears to be a closer in waiting. They REALLY need Leone to breakout for their bullpen to become a strength again.

What about the offense?

Well, Marcell Ozuna is in and Randal Grichuk and Piscotty are gone. Other than that, the Redbirds are returning the same cast of characters in 2018. However, a deeper look indicates that a few breakouts in 2017 might not hold up in 2018.

Pham rode a .368 BABIP and a 26.7 HR:FB ratio to a career year in his age 28 season. DeJong is also likely to regress in 2018. He posted an ugly 4.8% walk rate in 2017 along with a .349 BABIP and a 19.8% HR:FB ratio. Also Yadier Molina probably won’t drive in 82 runs or bash 18 homers again.

Next: Why don't the Brewers have to worry about the Pirates?

The Milwaukee Brewers added to a solid offense, and picked up a few useful arms to boost their squad for 2018. The Cardinals added Ozuna, who should fill a key need in the heart of their lineup, but neglected their pitching staff. Even if Leone develops into a fantastic closer, they still lack rotation depth and middle relievers to get to him. The Cardinals are a virtual lock for 85+ wins, but that wasn’t enough in 2017. It won’t be enough in 2018, either.