When it was confirmed that Adam Wainwright was lost for the season after posting only 4 outstanding starts, it was easy to write off the Red Birds for the rest of the season. Although I got a great deal on St Louis Cardinals tickets from TicketFounder, I was wondering how bad a season the Cards would have. Wainwright is after all the ace of the staff, a bonafide #1 starter who could absolutely lock down an opposing offense when called upon. Dismissing this team is the last thing you should do as they boast a superb blend of youth and experience on both sides of the ball. What’s even more telling about the Cardinals this season will undoubtedly be their depth, as they are currently in the process of weathering an injury storm that most clubs would crumble in the midst of.
When Matt Adams pulled up lame there was obvious reason to be concerned, as Adams has been relied on as the sole source of power in the infield, not an uncommon position for a first baseman. When news that his strained quad would require surgery and he could be lost for the season, the concern quickly changed to a level of uncertainty that has fans wondering who will replace Adams and where will that power come from.
This is where the greatness of the Cardinals player personnel department comes to the forefront. Their ability to build depth quietly from within is unmatched in the majors, and there’s a good chance that loss of Adams who is a fan favorite will go relatively unnoticed. But what about all that power? Adams who is one of five Cardinals with 20 plus RBIs (Molina has 19) only has 4 HR on the season. Every starter in the infield has hit more HRs so far this season and Adam’s most likely replacement Mark Reynolds has 3 HRs and 13 RBIs in 45 fewer ABs. Its seldom ok to be insensitive when it comes down to injuries, but in terms of the Cardinals team as a whole Adams simple won’t be missed statistically and Reynolds will pick up right where Adams left off.
In the outfield once again, the STL Cardinals has had to deal with an injury to center fielder Jon Jay who also was their leadoff guy. Depth again comes into play with this barrier, as the team has moved Kolten Wong to the leadoff spot and rotated Peter Bourjos and Randal Grichuk into the outfield to play along with Jason Heyward and Matt Holliday. We all know what Bourjos can do on the base paths but Randal Grichuk could end up being the story of the year for the Cardinals. Grichuk adds plus depth and will be hard to keep out of the lineup as he’s hitting .308 with 10 extra base hits in just a short sample size. He also performed admirably in last year’s post season and will be eating into Jay’s playing time when he gets off the DL. There is a bit of a log jam in the OF – which should give everyone plenty of rest while also providing depth down the stretch. This has already paid off as the Cardinals once again lost a key contributor and didn’t miss a beat.
So who’s the new number #1 in St. Louis? At this point the Cardinals are the last team concerned about who their best arm is. Instead they’ve watched their current starters step up with quality innings the same way their infield has contributed power stats. Currently all five starters boast an ERA below 3.60 and four of five have held opponents below a .260 BA which is quite impressive for a team with no shut down starters outside of Wainwright. That was then, now Michael Wacha has amassed 7 wins with a microscopic ERA of 1.89 and a WHIP slightly above one. Wacha isn’t missing a lot of bats, but he is inducing a ton of ground balls and has one of the best defenses in the majors behind him.
Regardless where you stand or how the Cardinals end their season,
St Louis Cardinal seating makes for exciting outing, and there is no question they have what it takes to be competitive right to the end. As Matt Holliday continues his quest to get on base in every game this season (he’s at 43 straight games) and John Lackey continues to anchor a young a staff it’s more than clear that the Cardinals are on the right tract to capture their division title and challenge the Dodgers and Nationals in the playoffs.