After Thursday’s 4-0 victory against the Milwaukee Brewers, the St. Louis Cardinals are currently tied for first place in the National League Central with a 5-3 record. The Cardinals’ hitters and pitchers have contributed to a fairly balanced effort thus far, averaging over 3.5 runs per game and compiling a 2.13 team ERA through their first eight contests of 2015.
Despite having four off days in the first two weeks, several Cardinals have began the 2015 regular season with surprising starts. Playing off the idea of threes, below are three players are separated into three categories based on their results after St. Louis’s first three series.
Coming off a season that wasn’t statistically eyeballing, Carpenter is proving to be a model of hard work and consistency early on. The lead-off hitter’s eleventh inning home run in Cincinnati is arguably one of the season’s biggest highlights so far, but even more impressively Carpenter ranks in the Top 5 for RBI (7), OBP (.432) and batting average (.364) among all MLB third baseman.
In his second season with the Cardinals, Peralta has once again added some surprise pop to the middle of St. Louis’s lineup. The shortstop currently sports a .364 batting average and has an 11-game hit streak dating back to the 2014 regular season. Peralta has been sturdy defensively as well, collecting 22 assists without an error in his first eight starts.
Closing out games is possibly one of the hardest responsibilities in baseball, but Rosenthal has made it look easy so far. The 24 year-old has sustained velocity on his fastball, while averaging speeds over 80 mph on all of his secondary pitches. Rosenthal has recorded saves in three straight opportunities and has only given up one run through 4.2 innings.
Honorable mention: Matt Holliday has also started the season on an eight-game hitting streak and leads all Cardinals with a .459 OBP.
1. Matt Adams
The Cardinals’ hitters and pitchers have contributed to a fairly balanced effort thus far, averaging over 3.5 runs per game and compiling a 2.13 team ERA through their first eight contests of 2015.
Adams hasn’t quite presented himself as the clean-up hitter that St. Louis envisioned to start the season. The first baseman only has 1 home run and 2 RBIs against a paltry strikeout to walk ratio of 5:2. The Cardinals can’t afford a power outage from one of their biggest home run threats later into the season, as Adams will need to improve his RISP stats to prevent more platoons with Mark Reynolds.
2. Randy Choate
Left-handed specialists generally provide a small sample size, but based on his early-season results it’s possible that age is catching up to Choate. As the oldest member of St. Louis’s bullpen, Choate has only retired two hitters in his four outings. Although his 13.50 season ERA will likely drop quickly, left-handed hitters are already hitting .333 against the 39 year-old southpaw.
Other than his three-hit Cardinal debut on Opening Night, Heyward hasn’t necessarily taken off with his new team. Seven strikeouts does not look good when St. Louis is looking extend Heyward beyond his only guaranteed contract year. Posting only a .143 mark with RISP and 2 RBIs total, the right fielder will need to make larger contributions during offensive rallies in order to remain in the two-spot between hot hitters Matt Carpenter and Matt Holliday.
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Battling injury concerns over abdominal issues in Spring Training, Wainwright has a 1-1 record and a 2.08 ERA after his first two starts. The good news is that he’s still pitching deep into games and striking out more hitters than expected. The bad news is that he’s allowing more hits and walks than usual, as represented by a subpar 1.08 WHIP.
Yadier Molina lost nearly 20 pounds over the offseason to keep himself in long-term shape, but his efforts have yet to reflect significantly in Cardinal victories. The 12 year backstop hasn’t caught any base runners stealing after four attempts and has already struck out seven times. After collecting 5 hits and 2 RBIs in the first home series, Molina’s career numbers suggest that a quick rebound is likely in store if he can avoid long-term injuries.
3. Kolten Wong
Already boasting a .344 OBP and six runs, Wong’s offensive numbers show his ability to produce as an eighth place hitter. However, it appears that some sophomore jitters are still affecting Wong, as the Cardinals’ second baseman committed 3 defensive errors in the most recent series against Milwaukee and remains St. Louis’s only starting infielder who has yet to collect a home run.
With over 150 games left on schedule, it’s difficult to envision these individuals in their current category for an extended period of time. St. Louis has another early opportunity to take over the division this weekend, as the Cincinnati Reds travel to Busch Stadium for a three-game series.