Entering this series in third place, the St. Louis Cardinals have battled numerous injuries to key players, and the loss of a franchise one, and still find themselves in a good spot (41-38, 2.5 games out of first) as they near the halfway point of the season. Lance Berkman, Chris Carpenter, Matt Carpenter, Jon Jay, Allen Craig, and several other crucial components to the team have missed significant time, while Albert Pujols notoriously bailed out on the Cards for the sunnier, brighter, and more pleasant confines of Anaheim.
Fortunately for St. Louis, a number of players have stepped up to the point where some are enjoying the finest season of their respective careers. Longtime Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina has had only one season in his career with an OPS+ greater than 100, and that was last year. He has continued his momentum from a season ago, posting a 139 OPS+ to this point of the season, which is good enough to get him selected to the NL All-Star team for the fourth consecutive year. Speaking of picking up where last year left off, David Freese is enjoying a fine season as well. One of the "final five" players who can be voted onto the NL All-Star team, Freese has matched Molina's home run total of 13 while posting a similar 130 OPS+. Matt Holliday is quietly having another huge season, despite being snubbed from the ASG roster, as he's hit 12 homers and racked up a 143 OPS+, which is good for second on the team behind this guy:
#3 / Right Field / St. Louis Cardinals
Apr 24, 1977
|2012 - Carlos Beltran||.310||.396||.576|
Beltran has had a long and terrific career with many good seasons in several different uniforms. However, he's on a different level this season. Beltran is currently pace to mash more than 40 homers while putting up an OPS+ north of 160. The latter would be the highest of his illustrious career; as for the former, he's only eclipsed that once (41 bombs in 2006). As a reward for his terrific season, Beltran will be starting in the outfield for the NL a week from tomorrow, and will be making his 7th ASG appearance overall.
In addition to the guys mentioned above, the Cardinals are also getting above-average production from Matt Carpenter (132 OPS+), Jon Jay (113 OPS+), Allen Craig (166 OPS+, 11 HR), and Skip Schumaker (107 OPS+). Rafael Furcal has cooled off a bit since a scorching start to the season, but he's performed at a near-league-average level, and is set to start for the NL All-Star team at shortstop next week. And, in case you were wondering, Lance Berkman was mashing again (171 OPS+) before he was injured, and is due back in a few weeks.
Even with all of the big-name bats they've had over the years, pitching has still been the Cards' bread and butter. This year, they've relied a little bit more on the sticks, but this is still a pretty good pitching staff. Kyle Lohse (138 ERA+) has been the best of the bunch, as he has continued to thrive even without the tutelage of Dave Duncan. Lohse won't strike out a ton of batters, but he is very good at limiting walks (1.5 BB/9) and, like fellow rotation mate Jake Westbrook (100 ERA+), is very good at inducing grounders. Lance Lynn was named to the NL All-Star team as well, behind a 10-4 record and a 3.62 ERA. He's in the middle of a string of poor starts, but Lynn has been legitimately solid over the course of the season, striking out more than a batter per inning on his way to a 108 ERA+. Adam Wainwright hasn't been himself this year (82 ERA+), and Jaime Garcia was having some struggles before landing on the DL about a month ago. Rookie Joe Kelly (117 ERA+) has filled in nicely, though his peripherals (minus his walk rate, which has been good) suggest he's due for some regression.
The Cardinals have a bullpen, but outside of Jason Motte (17 saves, 121 ERA+, 3.00 K/BB ratio), and Mitchell Boggs (191 ERA+, 3.00 K/BB ratio), it hasn't been anything to write home about.
Pitching matchups and more after the jump...
Tonight at 6:15 PM MT (ROOT Sports)
Josh Oxymoronman (0-3, 9.32 ERA) vs. Kyle Lohse (7-2, 2.82 ERA)
Tomorrow at 6:15 PM MT (ROOT Sports)
Jeff Francis (1-1, 5.47) vs. Joe Kelly (1-0, 3.38)
Wednesday at 5:15 PM MT (ROOT Sports)
Christian Friedrich (4-5, 5.52) vs. Adam Wainwright (6-8, 4.75)
Thursday at 6:15 PM MT (ROOT Sports)
Drew Pomeranz (0-3, 3.72) vs. Lance Lynn (10-4, 3.62)