Cardinals Remain Best in MLB Despite Injuries

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I read an article earlier this season that talked about the Cardinal Way and how the St. Louis Cardinals have continued to produced winning teams each and every season. Well, this season is no different as far as the winning aspect is concerned, but it’s the way they are winning games that has everyone believing in the Cardinal Way.

First and foremost, they lost their ace Adam Wainwright for the season after only four games to a freak Achilles injury while hitting. Many experts thought the Cardinals would have a tough road ahead to try and make the playoffs again this year. Funny thing is, the Cardinals are currently posting the best pitching staff in the entire league without Wainwright.

They have a 2.63 ERA and are the only team in baseball to have a sub 3.00 ERA. One of the main reasons behind this success is their ability to keep the ball in the yard. They have given up the least amount of home runs this season while ranking 7th in strikeouts. All without Wainwright. So how are they doing this?

They are continuing to win games because they have one of the best minor league systems in the majors. 4 of their 5 starters (Lance Lynn, Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez, and Jaime Garcia) have come up through their minor league system, with John Lackey being the outsider. Each of these starters, including Lackey, have been nothing short of incredible this season and it has seemed that the only losses the Cardinals have had have been in low-scoring pitcher duels. Obviously, Cardinal fans and the Cardinals would love to have Wainwright back in the lineup for them and to think about this staff with him in there is even scarier.

Secondly, the Cardinals lost their starting first baseman Matt Adams for four months with a quad tear earlier this season. This looked like a big blow to the already power thirsty St. Louis team. They were last in the NL in home runs last season and their leading home run hitter this season is Jhonny Peralta with 14. So the lack of power from the Cardinals took a hit when Adams hit the shelf.

Luckily for the Cardinals, they were able to add big man Mark Reynolds for a bat off the bench that has had to step up and be the primary first baseman while Adams has been hurt. Reynolds can supply the power, but he still holds the crown for strikeout king and is currently leading the team with 89 punchouts this season. The 1B spot for the Cardinals has been a sort of platoon spot for the club, but they have been able to pull out wins regardless of who is there.

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Thirdly, there was the injury to the always consistent Matt Holliday. When he went down, it looked as if the Cardinals were going to struggle to score runs. Fortunately for them, guys like Randal Grichuk and Tommy Pham, when brought up, stepped up to the occasion and supplied the much needed help in the outfield. It was also the other key supporters that stepped up as well, such as Matt Carpenter, Kolten Wong, Peralta, Yadier Molina, and newcomer Jason Heyward. It was almost as if when one piece fell, another one stepped up in its place.

A prime example has been the closer role. We know that Trevor Rosenthal has established himself as one of the games best closers, but when he was dealing with arm soreness, Kevin Siegrist and Seth Maness both stepped up to convert a combined eight saves for the Redbirds this season. As far as the offense goes, when Matt Carpenter struggled at the plate to find any rhythm, Grichuk stepped up in that top of the lineup spot and produced extremely well. It’s things like this that create the Cardinal Way. Playing selfless baseball for the betterment of the team.

Speaking of Grichuk, he suffered a groin injury and may miss a couple of games that may give highly touted prospect Stephen Piscotty a chance for some playing time in CF. St. Louis always has OF Peter Bourjos to man centerfield, but his offensive liability isn’t ideal for the Cardinals lineup. Piscotty has the potential and just needs more experience to become an everyday starter for St. Louis for years to come.

Nobody in the lineup is hitting over .300 and nobody has more than 15 home runs or even 50 runs batted in, but it’s the collection of timely hitting and dominant pitching that has carried this team to where they are now. Along with best ERA in the majors, the Cardinals also have the second best bullpen ERA. St. Louis doesn’t need to score five runs a game to win ballgames. In fact, they score just about four runs a game so far this season. So if you do the math right, with a 2.63 staff ERA and a 2.30 reliever ERA, the Cardinals should win almost every game they play. Which would be nice if your a Cardinal fan.

Next: Cardinals Rumors: St. Louis has inquired about AdamLind

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