While most fans are focused on the fact that the St. Louis Cardinals dropped their first series of the year last weekend, they may have overlooked one major facet of the set: Mike Matheny‘s club lacked one of their premier offensive threats in Matt Carpenter, who has been sidelined with what has been labeled as “extreme fatigue.”
With the series loss behind them, the first-place Cardinals are headed to take on the Cleveland Indians – and thankfully, they’ll be one step closer to full power as, according to MLB.com, Carpenter is expected to be back in the lineup.
The two-time NL All-Star did not travel with the club to Pittsburgh over the weekend after suffering from symptoms including dehydration and an elevated heart rate. General manager Jon Mozeliak voiced his concerns for Carpenter in recent days, as well.
"“When a player is going through something and you can’t pinpoint exactly what it is, it’s always concerning,” Mozeliak said. “But to know how he feels today, it’s encouraging. That doesn’t mean everything is behind us. We still have to be smart moving forward. But hopefully from an organizational standpoint, we will be.”"
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Two years ago, Carpenter finished fourth in the National League MVP voting after racking up 199 base hits – including a league-leading 55 doubles and 126 runs. Last season wasn’t quite as impressive, as he posted a still-respectable .272/.375/.375 triple-slash, but his production still fell off a bit from his breakout 2013 campaign.
There’s no doubt that he adds an integral element to the Cardinals’ lineup – offering gap power and a patient approach, which is rare to find in a big league player these days. So far in 2015, Carpenter is back to his MVP-contender numbers from a few years’ back, batting .333/.403/.620 in 27 games. Yet again, he leads the league in doubles with 14 and his 1.024 OPS ranks among the best.
While all Cardinals fans are happy to see Carpenter back in the mix this week as St. Louis looks to get back to its winning ways, this could be a make-or-break storyline to watch as the season progresses. With him in the lineup, this team has more cards in their hand and losing him for an extended period of time could prove troublesome for the Redbirds.