The St. Louis Cardinals are off to their worst start since 1988

Here are some words you don’t have the opportunity to say too often: The St. Louis Cardinals are the worst team in the National League right now.

Crazy, right? The Cardinals, usually a model of consistency, are off to a horrible start in which their 3-9 record is even worse than the 5-8 San Diego Padres and the 4-8 Philadelphia Phillies. It’s also not even Tax Day yet, so this means very little in the grand scheme of baseball things that will occur in 2017, but it’s worth pointing out for the weirdness of it all.

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The Cardinals aren’t often bad. They’re usually pretty good, sometimes great, sometimes average. But 3-9 is their worst start since 1988. After Sunday night’s 9-3 loss to the New York Yankees — which happened in front of a national audience on ESPN — the entire baseball world is wondering, “What’s wrong with the Cardinals?”

You can see if the Cardinals can get things moving in the right direction Monday when they play the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Free MLB Game of the Day here on Yahoo Sports. You can stream the game for free on our MLB page, the Free Game of the Day tab or right here in this very post when the game gets under way at 7:05 p.m. ET. Local blackouts apply per MLB’s rules.

Carlos Martinez looks how most Cardinals fans look right now. (AP)
Carlos Martinez looks how most Cardinals fans look right now. (AP)

After their latest loss, Cards manager Mike Matheny told reporters, including the esteemed Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

“There aren’t a whole lot of positives in my mind right now,” Matheny said as his team packed for the red-eye charter home. “When we’re playing really clean and we’re just getting outplayed, that’s one thing. We’ve had just a stretch here of some games where mistakes happen and they get capitalized on. We just know there is whole different level of baseball that we have in us, and since April started we haven’t really seen that yet.”

There’s a laundry list of things wrong with the Cardinals:

• They were swept by the Yankees and didn’t score more than three runs in any of the games. They’ve lost six of seven since April 9, the only win coming last Wednesday against the Washington Nationals.

• They made nine errors dating back to April 9. They have errors in five of those six losses.

• Currently, the Cards rank 29th in ERA and 27th in batting average, a woeful combination that would seem to explain all the losses.

Adam Wainwright, the once ace of the Cards, has been getting shelled. He gave up four runs on 10 hits on Sunday night and five runs on 11 hits in four innings against the Nats earlier in the week. His 7.24 ERA, after a rough 2016, should be a cause for concern, even this early in the season.

• Big free-agent acquisition Dexter Fowler is hitting .143 coming into Monday’s action, which is hard to love. There are a lot of bad averages in the mix, though. Even Matt Carpenter is hitting only .222 , which is actually pretty good considering what’s going on elsewhere. That includes Kolten Wong (.148), Randal Grichuk (.182) and Jhonny Peralta (.120).

While it might seem like we’re making too big a deal out of the Cardinals’ sour start, that’s only because it’s such a rarity to see the Cardinals looking down-and-out. They’ve been able to create a long-term model of consistency that almost any other franchise in the game would envy, mostly because of a farm system that spits out big-league ready talent seemingly whenever the need arises.

Right now, the Cardinals need something. It might not be a minor-league specifically. They might just need a lineup switch or a blowout win that gets the bats going up and down the lineup. As bad it seems right now, don’t count on the Cardinals being the worst team in the NL for too long.

So Cardinals haters, enjoy it while you can. And Cardinals diehards, know that it’ll get better. It might not get buy-your-postseason tickets better, but you gotta figure by summer they’ll be better than the Braves, right?

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Mike Oz is the editor of Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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