Major League Baseball today is haunted by the passing of Jose Fernandez, who passed away tragically at the age of 24. His career was just beginning. As I watch the St. Louis Cardinals play the Chicago Cubs, it is poetic to see Carlos Martinez on the mound pitching in a postseason push, wearing the 18 in honor of Oscar Taveras.
With Carlos Martinez facing off against Jon Lester, last night’s St. Louis Cardinals game was a pitchers duel as expected with two great pitchers. The lone run of the game, at the point I wrote this article, came in the bottom of the fifth thanks to a David Ross homerun.
The Cubs are a tough series to have as the Cardinals are contending for baseball in October. It can’t be denied that the Cubs are talented, but the post season has been a high point for the Cardinals in the past.
Watching the way the Cardinals are playing is very encouraging. Postseason baseball is a whole different brand of baseball. While the Cards still have work to do to take one of those Wild Card spots, if they can clinch it then the Cardinals seem prepared for it.
There are many moving pieces in the lineup, and a lot of depth in the bullpen. This will be the key. Especially with Matt Holliday making strides to make it back for playoffs. This would be big, by adding to the hitting depth in the organization.
The true test of a postseason push, however, is the bullpen. The bullpen in St. Louis is what has allowed their success in the postseason. In recent memory, Martinez, Trevor Rosenthal and Michael Wacha have stepped up as stars in different postseasons. Seung Hwan Oh is doing an amazing job filling the closer role in place of Rosenthal.
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But it is more than just an emerging starter and a successful closer. Martinez stuck out as a middle reliever and set up man. This is where having a trustworthy and calm bullpen when the starter exits the postseason game is paramount. Past post season runs have been directly correlated with being able to call on many different arms.
Guys like Johnathan Broxton, Zach Duke, Kevin Siegrist, and Matt Bowman allow the middle to late innings to not be as nerve wracking. What impresses me most about the bullpen for the Cardinals is the fact that there is a solid combination of experience and youth.
While there is still plenty of work to do as the season winds down, the future looks bright for the St. Louis Cardinals to make a run at another championship. They need to get passed the Reds, who have given them trouble in the recent past, if they want to secure one of the wild card spot. But in October, anything can happen.