Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Molina, Cardinals looking to turn things around in the final months
Injuries have plagued this team it seems all season long as they have seen numerous key players land on and off the disabled list, but it certainly isn't an excuse. For a team that has been without their starting closer (Jason Motte), a future hall of fame starter (Chris Carpenter), as well as others including MVP canidate (Yadier Molina), a break seems to be something that the Birds just cannot catch.
Entering tonight's battle at Busch with the first-place Pittsburgh Pirates, the Yadi-less Cardinals are three games behind their opponent for first-place and will be looking for revenge as just a week ago the Pirates won 4-of-5 at their home ball park to take first place away. The Cardinals enter the series at 67-50 overall, while the Pirates are 70-47.
The team currently holds one of the two wild card spots with a sizeable lead of 7.5 games over the Arizona Diamondbacks, but just by 1.5 games over another division-rival, the Cincinnati Reds. The way that things stand now, the National League Central holds 3 of the 5 playoff spots for the National League with just 51 games remaining until October baseball begins.
Molina, who is currently on the disabled-list, was seen working out this afternoon and could make his return to the ball club on Thursday afternoon, which is when he becomes eligible to return. In 98 games this season, Yadi is batting a team-best .330 with 8 home runs and 54 RBIs while being the heart and soul for this team.
Allen Craig is soundly having MVP-like numbers this season as well though, as he is batting .319 with 11 home runs and 87 RBIs in 113 games. Matt Carpenter became a first-year All-Star this season as he is becoming a very good table-setter for the team. Carpenter is batting .308 this season with a team-high 139 hits and has drove in 57 runs with 9 home runs. Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday are having solid seasons as well, as Holliday enters tonight with a 9 game hitting streak and is batting .485 in the month of August. On the season though, Beltran is hitting .305 with 20 home runs and 62 RBIs while Holliday is batting .290 with 15 bombs and 59 RBIs.
The pitching has had a large part to do with the success the team has had so far as well and while they have slowed down just a bit, they are still putting the team in a position to win on a consistent basis. Team ace Adam Wainwright has slowed down a bit as of late, but even now he still has put together another ace-like performance. In 24 starts this season, he is 13-7 with a 2.66 ERA while leading the team in strike outs with 156.
Shelby Miller has put together a great season so far as well, as he is 11-7 with a 2.89 ERA and all across the board is among the top rookie starters number wise and has 132 strike outs himself. Lance Lynn put together an amazing first half, but since has slowly started to taper off despite still having good numbers. In 24 starts, Lynn is 13-6 with a 3.79 ERA through 149 2/3 innings.
The rookies have done an excellent job this season along with the bullpen, and ultimately are a large part to the teams great start. Guys such as Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez, John Gast, and Tyler Lyons have all made starts that resulted in wins so far this season -- while the likes of Tyler Rosenthal, Seth Maness, Kevin Segrist and Keith Butler have all had pretty big roles from the bullpen.
One guy that you have to mention though, who highlighted one of the teams biggest question marks entering the season, is Edward Mujica. When the news broke out about Jason Motte, whose season ended before it even started, the team had no closer. 6 months later, Mujica has proven to be one of the best closers in the league and has played a huge role. In 33 save opportunities, he has saved 31 and has allowed just ten runs through 49 2/3 innings with an ERA of 1.81.
To make it short and sweet, the Cardinals have an awful lot of baseball left and as well know, anything can happen. The team is three games out of first place with just over 50 games remaining and will be getting their team leader in Yadier Molina back in just a few days. All that can be said at this moment and time, as La Russa used to say, this team needs to leave it all out on the field and play a hard nine every single night.