Yeah, they lost 5-4 to the lowly Marlins tonight. However, entering tonight’s game, the Cardinals had baseball’s best record at 43-23 with a run differential of +102 runs. It is the best start through 66 games, in terms of run differential, since the 2003 Mariners were +106. A team has been +100 or better through the first 66 games just five other times in this millennium, with the ’01 Mariners, ’02 Yankees and Red Sox, and ’08 Cubs joining the ’03 Mariners.
But, as we know, hot starts don’t always last forever. The Cardinals are on pace to be +250 over an entire season, a feat that has only been achieved five times since the 162-game schedule was adopted in the early 1960’s: by the ’98 Yankees (+309), ’01 Mariners (+300), ’69 Orioles (+262), ’98 Astros (+254), and ’75 Reds (+254). Two of those teams — the Yankees and Reds — won the World Series. Even if you lower the threshold to +200, only an additional 15 teams join the list.
It hasn’t been talked about much, but through 66 games this season, the Cardinals are looking really, really good. Whether they can hold steady through the next 96 games and into the post-season, however, remains to be seen.
Newsday’s Marc Carig reports that Mets starter Steven Matz has been pitching through pain for most of the season. He may need surgery to fix a nerve issue in his elbow. Matz was sidelined in spring training with an elbow injury and made his regular season debut on June 10.
Matz, 26, has struggled over 13 starts, posting a 6.08 ERA with a 48/19 K/BB ratio in 66 2/3 innings. Many were scrambling for explanations for his pitching woes and now they have it.
According to Carig, the Mets let Matz skip his bullpen sessions to help him pitch through the pain. Given the Mets’ shoddy history of dealing with injuries, that’s not a good look for the club.
Carig noted on Twitter that Jacob deGrom offers some optimism for Matz’s case. deGrom underwent right elbow surgery to repair ulnar nerve damage last September and bounced back to have a great season this year.
Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw was scheduled to throw three innings in a simulated game on Monday. That simulated game went so well, he threw an extra inning, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports. Kershaw will make a minor league rehab start next and could be activated towards the end of next week.
Kershaw, 29, has been on the disabled list since July 24 with a lower back strain. That put the pause button on another outstanding season. He’s carrying a 15-2 record with a 2.04 ERA and a 168/24 K/BB ratio in 141 1/3 innings.
The 87-35 Dodgers have run away with the NL West, needing some combination of 20 wins and 20 Rockies losses (19 for the third-place Diamondbacks) to officially clinch the division. While the Dodgers are all but mathematically assured of reaching postseason baseball, the club would still like to get Kershaw as ready as possible over the next month-plus.