Friday, May 17, 2013

Cardinals are quietly exceeding everyones expectations early on

Entering tonight's contest in which is the teams' last series in the current ten game homestand for team manager Mike Matheny and his Cardinals, St. Louis owns the best record in all of the National League at 26-14 -- as well as number one in the National League in a lot of major stat categories on both sides. The Cardinals have been surpising everyone around the baseball world.

The Cardinals offense is anchored by the likes of both Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran this season -- and also have some very good power and contact hitters that compliment them both with the likes of Yadier Molina, Allen Craig, David Freese, Jon Jay and Pete Kozma and Daniel Descalso. The team ranks 10th in the National League with 186 runs scored, and is eighth in batting average as they are hitting .263 overall as a team.

When it comes to the pitching staff, the Cardinals are first in all of baseball with an Earned Run Average of 3.06 -- as well as first overall for quality starts as the starting pitchers have combined for 28 through just 40 games. The opponents are hitting just a combined .244 against St. Louis -- which is getting some impressive starts from both the veterans such as Adam Wainwright and Jake Westbrook -- and from the young guns such as Jaime Garcia, Shelby Miller and now John Gast. Wainwright is 5-3 in nine starts (8 quality starts) and has an ERA of 2.51 in 64.2/3 innings pitched, while rookie pitcher Shelby Miller is 5-2 in eight starts (8 quality starts) with an ERA of 1.40 through 51.1/3 innings pitched.

The bullpen has been one of the Cardinals biggest secret weapons this season -- and what is scary, they only seem to be getting even younger -- as well as only seeming to get stronger and better. Following the news that the teams closer was going to be undergoing Tommy John Surgery, losing Jason Motte was one thing that seemed to knock the team out of the possible championship teams. Edward Mujica may have something to say about that though.

Mujica got a chance to audition for the closer role in mid-April, and since then the man is 11-for-11 in possible save opportunities and has allowed just three runs and eight hits while teams are hitting just .143 against him. The pen has been glowing with rookies as both Carlos Martinez and Seth Maness made their debuts, while they also made their presence felt. As a unit together, teams are batting just .274 against them while they have allowed 57 runs and tallied in 105 hits in 36 bullpen appearances through the first 40 games this season.

Following an off-season in which the Cardinals' didn't make much noise following a run that ended just one win from back-to-back World Series appearances, then finding out news that Chris Carpenter would be out for the entire 2013 season -- followed by bad news with the teams starting closer in Motte, not many people have had much to say about this seasons team -- but through 40 games in the 2013 season, this team has something that this organization ALWAYS has -- Heart.

While the big question of "can this team continue this amazing start into the summer days of baseball?" can't be answered until basically the seasons' end, this start has a lot of the critics on hush-mode. As this team has proven in the past, heart and the will of wanting to win CAN take you farther than just simply having talent can. Nobody knows if this team can continue what they have started but one thing is for sure, the ending to this season will be pure excitement because that's what this storied franchise is all about.

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