Five takeaways following the St. Louis Cardinals’ early postseason exit

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October 13, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Kevin Siegrist (46) reacts after giving up a solo home run to Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo (not pictured) in the sixth inning in game four of the NLDS at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

4. Decline Expected In Pitching Next Season

The 2015 Cardinals’ staff became the first core of pitchers to finish with an earned run average under 3.00 (2.94) in the 21st century, oftentimes bailing an inconsistent offense out of trouble during the regular season. However, a different microcosm unfolded by the postseason, where the pitchers surrendered 10 home runs that proved costly in the matter of three close losses.

If veterans such as John Lackey, Jaime Garcia and Jonathan Broxton all end up with new homes over the Winter, the whole entire complexity of the Cardinals pitching depth changes suddenly. Obviously, Adam Wainwright performed above expectations following his expedited recovery from an Achilles injury, but what more can fans expect as he turns 35 next season. A similar argument could be made for Lance Lynn, if hitters remember to pounce on his fastball early or force him to work deeper into counts.

One also has to consider the pressure imposed on the younger pitchers that led to disappointments during the stretch of the season. Much of this pressure came after the Cardinals decided to stop skipping starts in mid-September, eventually leading to a season-ending shoulder injury from Carlos Martinez and a 7.88 ERA in the final month for Michael Wacha.

The season ended with question marks for the bullpen as well, most notably when relief appearance leader Kevin Siegrist surrendered three home runs in tough assignments against left-handed power threats Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber.

Next: Is Michael Wacha overrated?