|Cardinals' pitcher Lance Lynn and outfielder Carlos Beltran are carrying the team right now. Can it last?||Photos via AP|
What is wrong with the St. Louis Cardinals?
The answer to that question can hardly be injuries. Tonight's lineup missed the likes of Lance Berkman, Jon Jay and Skip Schumaker. If the three are in the lineup: Berkman goes to first, Allen Craig goes to the outfield, and Shane Robinson sits. Schumaker and Jay probably do not even play. So the only "non-starter" in the lineup is Robinson. Shane is hitting .273 with 2 HR's and 9 RBI's. Those numbers aren't that great, but with Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran, David Freese and Craig in the lineup, offense shouldn't be an issue. Robinson has only one error in his 35 appearances (23 starts). At first base (replacing Berkman), Craig has only two errors in 15 starts. The fielder's injuries that are affecting the Cardinals right now should not be causing such a poor record of late.
I understand that Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia and Kyle McClellan are also injured. McClellan is 0-1 in 16 appearances (no starts) with a 5.30 ERA. The Cardinals are not missing him. Garcia is 3-4 in 11 starts with a 4.48 ERA. The Cardinals are not missing him. Carpenter has not started a game this season, and yet the Cardinals were rolling pretty smoothly early on. So, while it would be to every fan's desire for Carpenter to be back, the Cardinals really are not missing him either.
So what is the problem? St. Louis is 18-23 since the beginning of May. That may not seem terrible, but when you consider the Cardinals have been swept four times, and only won one game in five series other than the sweeps, its pretty bad. They were no hit (arguably) by the Mets, shutout twice in that series and two more times other than that. A win tonight did them well, but they are still slumping. The Cards had four hits tonight, three of which came from Beltran (including his solo home run to win the game 1-0).
With Lance Lynn playing lights out this season (10-2), Kyle Lohse playing well (6-1), and Jason Motte having only blown three saves out of 15 save situations, you would think the pitching would not be the problem. But Adam Wainwright has struggled this year, currently holding a 5-7 record and a 4.75 ERA and Jason Westbrook is 4-6 with a 4.25 ERA. Whatever slump the Cardinals are in now, you can not say that having Chris Carpenter back would not be nice. Last year's ace back in the rotation eases the pain for everyone else. Then again, if Carpenter does start pitching again (projected return no earlier than late July, early August) and hits the mound the way Wainwright has, the Cardinals may find themselves in need of another historic stretch to avoid missing the postseason for the second time in three years.
We'll see what happens as the season rolls on. Cardinals fans everywhere hope tonight's 1-0 win vs. the Chicago White Sox sparks a run that will put these dark days behind them. Fans of their opponents hope the team continues to struggle and falls out of the playoff race (to join the Cubs).