The injury to Jack Flaherty has drastically changed this analysis. Before he was placed on the IL with a “significant” side injury, Flaherty was the league leader in wins, had a sub-3.00 ERA, and was top 15 in the NL in strikeouts. The starting job will go to Jacob DeGrom, but a case could have been made that Flaherty was a shoo-in as a reserve.
With Jack on the sidelines, however, it appears unlikely that a Cardinal starter will make it to Colorado. Miles Mikolas has been injured and Kwang Hyun Kim hasn’t gone deep enough into games. Carlos Martinez’s performances have been solid, but he hasn’t been dominant enough to make the All-Star Game. We know John Gant is good at baseball, but fans don’t vote on pitchers. He’s exciting (who else picks Space Jam as his walk up music?), but holding the lead-league in walks isn’t a recipe for an All-Star appearance.
There are quite a few veteran starters ahead of him in the All-Star Game race, but I’d argue that Adam Wainwright still holds an outside shot. He’ll need two or three exceptional starts during the month of June to put himself in the conversation, but who am I to doubt Waino? Also, imagine how awesome it would be to see him and Yadi together on the national stage. Outside of the division race, this might be my top storyline to watch this summer.
Moving on to the bullpen, I firmly believe Alex Reyes is an All-Star. Setting the walks aside, he leads NL pitchers in games played (27), games finished (26), is second in saves (16), and is one of two pitchers with double-digit saves without a blown save this season.
Mark Melancon is the leader in saves at 17, and Josh Hader has been used in other situations in addition to his 12 for 12 record in save opportunities, but Reyes is right there with these two as the best relievers in the NL in 2021. The road to the big leagues has been winding for this former top prospect, and I hope that after years of injuries, Alex Reyes gets some well-deserved recognition. He has to keep pitching well to earn it, but it’s good to see that Reyes is on the right track.
The Cardinals haven’t had more than two All-Stars in a season since they had six in 2015. If the team keeps churning out wins and playing well, there’s a chance St. Louis gets back to those higher numbers. To recap:
Potential starter: Yadier Molina, Nolan Arenado
Deserves a spot: Alex Reyes
In the conversation: Tommy Edman, Paul Goldschmidt
Still holds a chance: Adam Wainwright, Tyler O’Neill
The All-Star Game will be held on July 13– a lot can change between now and then. We’ll just keep rooting for these core members of the Cardinals to continue producing at a high level. And who knows? Maybe we’ll see Tyler O’Neill in the home run derby.
If you ask any of the players, the focus for the next few weeks will be on winning as a team. But for one magic weekend each summer, the best players gather together to celebrate the beautiful game of baseball. It sure would be special to have lots of Cardinals on the field.