Are the Cardinals Ready to Reclaim the Central?
The St. Louis Cardinals are always an interesting team to follow. Every year, they seem to be in the hunt for at least a wild card spot in September. They haven’t made the playoffs since 2015 but they also haven’t had a losing season since 2007. They’ve been incredibly consistent but just haven’t been able to get over the hump in the past few years. And after a 9-9 start, it looked like another mediocre start to a slightly better than mediocre finish. However, then they got hot, winning 11 of 12, getting to 20-10, good enough for the best record in baseball. However, after a four game skid (including getting swept by the Cubs), the Cardinals are back in second. But do they have what it takes to take the Central crown?
The Cardinals have been so good this year because of the production from their offense. 2017 Rookie of the Year finalist Paul Dejong has been solid for St. Louis following a down year, leading the team in hits, average, and OBP, while also adding 6 homers and 15 RBIs. Another solid contributor has been Marcell Ozuna, who leads the team in home runs and RBIs, with 11 and 30 respectively. And of course, the Cardinals newest offseason addition, Paul Goldschmidt, had been pretty good too. Posting 9 homers with 19 RBIs (albeit with a .252 average). The big issue for the Cardinals has been there starting pitching, with the lowest ERA being Jack Flaherty’s 4.17. But will this hold them back?
Personally, I think the Cardinals have what it takes to win the NL Central. Clearly, their hitting has been solid enough to win them games, despite their bad pitching. The one thing the Cardinals have going for them is their strength of schedule. Of their 34 games this season, 27 of those games were played against teams with winning records at the time. Their schedule should get easier for them as they move along. Plus, their starting pitching shouldn’t continue to be this bad. Add in their emerging young talent like Harrison Bader and Tyler O’Neil and if their starting pitching starts to even approach average, this team will be a force to reckon with.
-Stephen Brown III (@sbtrey23)