After a 3-9 start, many Cardinals fans were looking for a solution. The most common involved the firing of manager Mike Matheny.
As the saying goes, “the baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint.” Use the Cardinals’ recent six game winning streak as proof.
While the fortune of the team has changed, is it fair to say the opinions of Matheny have changed or are they merely on the back burner until they reach another inevitable slide?
In the midst of his sixth season as manager, Matheny has compiled a record of 480-363, including a 19-14 start to this season, good for a .569 winning percentage. Some may argue his 21-22 record in the postseason is grounds for firing on its own; I would argue that Matheny has been one of, if not the most underrated managers in baseball.
He finished second in Manager of the Year voting in 2015, when the team lost in the Divisional round of the playoffs to the Chicago Cubs. He led the team to four consecutive playoff appearances yet, fans are still clamoring for him to be fired. It’s very difficult to replace the manager for a team with such high expectations and a winning culture at any point, let alone almost a quarter of the way through the season. Until his voice grows stale in the clubhouse and the team sees a string of losing, removing Matheny as manager shouldn’t be brought up.
However, one of the biggest knocks against him is he doesn’t manage the bullpen well enough to have sustained success.
As it stands, the Cardinals have a bullpen ERA of 4.19, good for 16th out of 30 MLB teams. Take into consideration the club boasts two relievers that can truly be counted on right now in Trevor Rosenthal and Sueng Hwan Oh. While Matheny has a tendency to stick with guys even when they’re in a slump, I think it’s a testament to his faith in them to right the ship, as opposed to a willingness to put the team at a disadvantage.
In 2006, the Cardinals won the World Series. In spite of that, the team had multiple losing streaks of eight games. The losing streaks were all but forgotten when the team got hot at the right time. While the yearbook on that season has been closed, it should serve as a reminder that it’s a long season and Matheny’s job status shouldn’t be defined by a 3-9 start.
Matheny loves this team and played for it for five seasons. He’s a true Cardinal through and through. He has integrity, passion, and a love for the city of St. Louis.
He’s the man for the job. Plain and simple.