The Cardinals began the season on a tear. As I wrote about a few weeks ago, the Redbirds had a tremendous opportunity to open a huge lead on the NL Central. Since that didn’t happen, the Reds have crept back into the race at 2.5 games behind the Cardinals. Even worse, the rest of the division opponents, led by the Pirates (4 games back), are not far behind.
The offense has been outstanding. The Cardinals lead the NL in almost every category. They have a .284 Average, .352 On Base Percentage, .469 Slugging and .821 OPS. With 51 Home Runs and 201 RBI, the Redbirds have shown the power of an AL team.
Unfortunately, injuries have crept back into the picture. With the loss of Jon Jay and Alan Craig to the DL as well as this day-to-day situation with Carlos Beltran, the powerful offense may come crashing to a halt. Also, I’m still not confident that Lance Berkman can play every day and maintain his health. All of this could lead to a disastrous end to May, as beginning tonight, the Cardinals play 13 straight games.
There are two good things to point out about this situation. One, the pitching staff has been very good this year. While there have been a few bad innings, missteps by manager Mike Matheny as well as the continued struggles of Adam Wainwright, there is reason for optimism. Lance Lynn is looking for his 7th win tonight, and I have confidence in Kyle Lohse, especially after the way he rebounded from Tuesday’s first inning. Jaime Garcia has yet to hit his stride, and Jake Westbrook continues to maintain quality form.
However, the pitching staff is facing potential trouble with the announcement today that Kyle McClellan is headed to the DL and Joe Strauss is reporting that his elbow injury could be season-ending. Isn’t that just like the 2012 Cardinals? A lot of great play and story lines yet lingering injuries and question marks.
The second good thing about the next 13 days, and the rest of the season, is that the Cardinals are in the NL Central. Despite the recent surge by the Reds, it’s likely the Cardinals will be in the mix for the title. Hopefully, the Redbirds will always be looking down, not up. Nevertheless, this season may be full of frustration due to the Cardinals not being able to separate themselves.