St. Louis Cardinals – Three Up, Three Down
By Ryan Smith
Jun 23, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals first basemanMatt Adams
(32) is congratulated for his three run home run by starting pitcherLance Lynn
(31) in the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. The Cardinals defeated the Rockies 8-0. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
The St. Louis Cardinals opened up a brutal ten-game West Coast road trip Monday night with a dominating 8-0 shutout win in Colorado. The win, which was powered by starting pitcher Lance Lynn and first baseman Matt Adams, was their third straight win and their 11th in the last 15 games overall.
The Cardinals’ appear to be getting hot at the right time of the season, as they still trail the Milwaukee Brewers by 4.5 games in the NL Central standings. Teams typically struggle on the West Coast road trips so the next nine games are crucial for momentum purposes heading into the All-Star break.
Here’s a look at what has been going right and wrong for the organization lately in this week’s Three Up, Three Down segment:
1. Matt Adams – Adams had the best game of his young career Monday night at Coors Field when he went 3-5 with two home runs and six RBIs. Despite hitting well over .300 all season long, Adams had struggled to find his power in the middle of the Cardinals’ lineup for the first two months of the season (only three home runs the first 52 games). Since returning from a trip to the disabled list with a calf strain on June 13, Adams has accounted for five home runs and 11 RBIs while improving his average to .328 – good for third best in the National League.
2. Jon Jay – Jay appeared to be headed for a full-time platoon/bench role for the team when the organization traded for Peter Bourjos last winter. Bourjos’ struggles opened the door for Jay to get more playing time and he has taken advantage of his opportunity. After posting respectable monthly averages of .284 (April) and .294 (May), Jay has been completely locked-in throughout the month of June (.333). On the season, Jay is hitting .303 – good for second best on the club – while also playing stellar Gold Glove defense.
3. Lance Lynn – Lynn is quietly having himself another All-Star caliber season in 2014. After shutting out the Rockies for eight innings at hitter-friendly Coors Field Monday night, Lynn has an impressive 8-5 win-loss record and 2.90 ERA through 16 starts. Cardinal fans have grown accustomed to seeing Lynn get off to hot starts only to wear down in the second half of the season. The numbers this year (3.60 April ERA, 2.65 May ERA, 2.37 June ERA) suggest that trend could change this season in St. Louis.
1. Peter Bourjos – When the Cardinals acquired Bourjos from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim last November, the assumption was that he would become the everyday center fielder for St. Louis in 2014. 30 hits in 147 at bats later (.204 average) and Bourjos has found himself a non-factor for the big league club. Bourjos hasn’t appeared in four of the last five games for the Cardinals and his 34 at bats in the month of June lead us to believe his role on the bench is here to stay.
2. Kolten Wong – The organization had high hopes for top prospect Kolten Wong coming out of spring training this season. Wong showed flashes of potential at the plate and in the field but struggled to find the consistency necessary to contribute to a Major League club. Wong is currently on the disabled list with a shoulder injury so will have to overcome both physical and mental struggles to help the Cardinals’ in 2014.
3. Michael Wacha & Jaime Garcia – It’s bad enough when a team has to place one of their starting pitchers on the disabled list, but two in the same day?! This unlikely possibility became a reality on Sunday (June 22) with Wacha’s right shoulder injury and Garcia’s left shoulder injury causing enough concern for the organization to take action. Garcia has dealt with serious shoulder injuries the last few years so for him, this DL stint could be much longer than 15 days. The word on Wacha is a bone-related issue and not ligament damage, which suggests he shouldn’t be out of action for too long.