Shildt: Nolan Arenado about to breakout for St. Louis Cardinals
Mike Shildt believes Nolan Arenado is about to breakout for the St. Louis Cardinals.
All season, we have been waiting for Nolan Arenado to break out. He has shown signs, of course, but he has yet to put the St. Louis Cardinals on his back and have that defining moment so many expected after he was acquired in the offseason.
Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said before Sunday’s game that Arenado was about to go on a run. It looks like he might be right. Arenado, 30, is 3 for his last 7, with all three hits being home runs, driving in five runs. Each home run proved to be the difference in the last two games against the Cincinnati Reds, bringing the Cardinals within one game of the second NL wild card spot.
The Cardinals are a different team when Arenado is playing at his best. The offense becomes more potent, taking pressure off Paul Goldschmidt, and creates more opportunities for him and Tyler O’Neill. It takes pressure off the pitching staff, a unit that has been decimated by injuries all season, and is hanging on by Adam Wainwright’s strong age-40 season and Jon Lester’s surprising emergence after the July 30 trade.
If this is truly the start of an Arenado breakout, it could not be coming at a better time. The Cardinals have 20 games left in the regular season and will need all hands on deck to get to the playoffs. But Arenado gives the Cardinals a chance to not just make the playoffs, but make a deep playoff run — and a chance to compete with the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants and Milwaukee Brewers.
It’s why the Cardinals acquired Arenado and why he wanted to come to St. Louis. For opportunities and moments like these. Great players often step up in the biggest moments and that Arenado has done this in two critical games against the Reds is no surprise. It’s the standard that Arenado has set for himself in nine seasons in the majors.
Now, Arenado finally has the opportunity to showcase it in a postseason race. Just like how each side envisioned — and if the last two games are any indication, he’s ready to rise to the occasion.