After last night’s win, the Cardinals can see the light at the end of a long, hard away series.
As I projected, this road stretch was a tough one for the birds. Ten games away facing two of baseball’s hottest teams took its toll. With only one game remaining, the Cardinals are 4-5 in the stretch. They have lost the majority of their regular starting pitchers due to injury but, hopefully, a few of the regulars will be returning soon. The All Star Break could not have come at a better time.
The Cardinals pitching staff allowed 38 runs over the last nine games. The pitching staff, during this period, has recorded an ERA of 4.22. That is atrocious considering the power and depth of the rotation when the Cardinals started the season. Compared to the fact that the Cards only scored 28 runs themselves, it is a miracle that the 4-5 record held. The Cards have scored an average of 3.11 runs per game over the same stretch including three shut outs.
Sure, may Cardinal fans would point to Kolten Wong’s shoulder tension and argue that his absence has weakened the Cardinal offense. I believe that they exaggerate Kolten Wong’s success this year. However, Wong only scores 0.32 runs per game on average. Even with him in the batting order, the Cardinals would have a long distance to cover in order to overpower the 4.22 runs given up over the last nine.
There is, however, some optimism left for the team. The Cards are still in 2nd in the NL Central, regardless of how small the margin is. They also play the Marlins at home which, aside from Giancarlo Stanton, should be an easy series to take away. The Cardinals could try to make a move on the Brewers over this holiday weekend. The Brewers are only 5.5 games ahead of the Cardinals making them an easy target should the Cardinals win tonight and also win the Marlins series.
The following two series are a little more challenging. They play four against the Pirates at home but then face the Brewers in Milwaukee. If Joe Kelly comes off of injury and the Cardinals bats heat up like they did against the Phillies two weeks ago, the Cardinals could have a fighting chance of coming back in the NL Central before the All Star Break.