Five Second Half Concerns Necessary for the St. Louis Cardinals to Address

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Jun 20, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies third baseman

Maikel Franco

(7) tags out St. Louis Cardinals center fielder

Peter Bourjos

(8) during the eighth inning at Citizens Bank Park. The Cardinals won 10-1. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

4. Will the Cardinals find production off the bench?

Coming off the bench isn’t necessarily an easy task, especially when playing in several close contests that St. Louis has been a part of recently. The Cardinals have relied primarily on Peter Borujos, Pete Kozma and Tony Cruz as late inning substitutes, but despite some moving pieces, the bench has experienced a wide range of troubles involving offense, defense and base running.

Besides Tony Cruz, all of St. Louis’s bench players were used in their last two extra-inning losses to Pittsburgh. In short, the Cardinals came into the season with higher expectations for the bench, but have ultimately been impeded by mistakes that generally characterize their specialists’ strengths. For instance, Bourjos’s 6 attempts caught stealing may be hurting St. Louis just as much late in contests as Kozma’s batting average below the Mendoza Line.

Looking for feasible short-term boosts amidst injuries and struggles, the Cardinals have also called up six different minor league hitters in 2015. But the bench provides an unfamiliar twist for call ups like Xavier Scruggs, Greg Garcia and Tommy Pham, who have grown accustomed to starting roles in Memphis. Mark Reynolds and Randal Grichuk also began the season in bench roles, but both moved into starting roles after teammate injuries, making St. Louis’s bench even more inexperienced.