The St. Louis Cardinals have entered the Wild Card picture since Mike Matheny was fired, and Mike Shildt is making a case to be named permanent manager.
When Mike Matheny was fired after a game on July 14 the St. Louis Cardinals were 47-46, seven games back in the NL Central and four games back of the second Wild Card spot. Under bench coach Mike Shildt they are 17-9 with a six-game winning streak entering Tuesday’s action.
While not much has changed in the division race (five games back), the Cardinals are two games back of a Wild Card spot with the Philadelphia Phillies and the Milwaukee Brewers holding the two spots in a proverbial tie.
St. Louis’ surge over the past month has been headlined by Matt Carpenter. Since Schildt took over as interim manager (26 games) Carpenter is hitting .333 with 15 home runs, 26 RBI and a 1.289 OPS. He now leads the National League with 33 home runs.
Shildt has managed to piece things together around injuries, including disabled list stints for Carlos Martinez, Dexter Fowler and Tyler O’Neill. Yadier Molina has also found some offense since Shildt took over, with a .318 average, 12 extra base hits and 13 RBI over that span. Harrison Bader has been a bit of find overall, and he’s hitting .298 with an .839 OPS since July 15.
Things have been similar with the Cardinals pitching, in covering for Martinez’ absence. Miles Mikola had a 2.83 ERA over nine starts prior to Monday, when he went seven innings for the third straight time. Jack Flaherty has a 2.70 ERA over his last six starts, dating back to Matheny’s last game as manager. Martinez (shoulder) is close to returning, but on Monday Shildt said it will be as a reliever for the rest of this season.
The Cardinals went with an internal option when they replaced Tony LaRussa with Matheny. A step outside the organization might be good in their search for a new permanent manager, but Shildt is making sure he gets some consideration.