The St. Louis Cardinals will go for a sweep over MLB-best Giants on Wednesday and have won the way they’ll have to: on the backs of players already here.
It is just before the All-Star Break and the St. Louis Cardinals might be playing their best series of the season right now. By all accounts, the results from the first two games against the San Francisco Giants have been a surprise.
Coming off a 13-game stretch where the Cardinals played some of the worst teams in the MLB and went just 5-8, being in the position to sweep the best team in baseball is a hell of a swing.
The past month-plus of baseball for the Cardinals, really since they were eight games above .500 on May 29, has been awful. You don’t need me to tell you that, but things have clearly been out of sync despite the level of talent on the team. Injuries have exasperated issues, but they are far from a good enough excuse to justify the team’s performance. Trust me though, the team knows this and they are far more upset about it than any fan is.
When an entire roster looks out of sync, pulling them out of that funk can be tough. Firing a coach (or three) can jolt a team, but it also could backfire. Trading a core player can have either of the same impacts too. It’s a delicate game, but the easiest way out of a funk like the one the Cardinals have been in is for the team and their leaders to do it themselves.
The entire roster can’t be turned over and the Cardinals, if they are going to find a way into the playoffs this year, are going to have to do it with the majority of the players already here.
In the first two games against the Giants, that is exactly what fans have seen. Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, Kwang Hyun Kim, and Matt Carpenter have all stepped up in these games to hold off the Giants. Each of these players have had their own solid moments this year, but rarely have the best players on the roster all been on at the same time. The last two games were a total group effort, from Kim’s start to Dylan Carlson’s game-saving catch.
Two wins against any team at this point won’t save the season though. The Cardinals (now in third place) still find themselves 8.5 games back of the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central. Even if the Cardinals have a great second half, it’d take a Cubs-like crash for the team to get back on top of the division. Just because the roster is getting it done with the most recent two-game sample size also doesn’t mean they don’t need help.
It’s a small win, but taking two of three or going all the way for the sweep from the Giants could be the type of series that aligns the clubhouse for the rest of the season. There is no way to know until we are looking back this winter.
The great thing to see is that the players already here have come together to get two really strong wins. Again, you can’t cut or trade the entire roster so you better figure out how to win with what you’ve got, even if additions or swaps are still coming.