How Much Do The Cardinals Miss Yadier Molina?

When Yadier Molina tore a ligament in his right thumb sliding into third base on July 9, the St. Louis Cardinals were 50-42 following their victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates that night. The Cardinals were in second place in the NL Central, two games behind the Milwaukee Brewers. They’d scored 340 runs on the season, while allowing 318.

yadiLast night, the Cardinals lost to the Miami Marlins 6-5. Since Yadi went on the DL, the team has gone 12-13 and is now 62-55. At the moment, they’re in third place in the Central — three games behind the Brewers and a half-game behind the second-place Pirates. They’ve jockeyed back and forth with the Pirates for second place since July 29.

That run differential looks a little different now too, as they’ve scored 436 runs this season while allowing 444. Although losses of 12-1, 12-2 and 10-3 in that span will definitely change the look of things …

Now, granted, 2014 Yadi wasn’t quite hitting like 2012/2013 MVP finalist Yadi either. On July 9, his stats were .287/.341/.409 with seven home runs and 30 RBI. Decreased offensive production this season, however, certainly hasn’t been limited to Yadi alone.

Who’s stepped up the most in the past 30 days? Interestingly enough, according to the stats on the Cards website, the guy leading the team in hitting in that span is someone who’s only been on the team since July 26: A.J. Pierzynski. In his 11 games as a Cardinal, AJP is hitting .308/.357/.410 with a double, a homer and five RBI. He drove in the first run last night, just before Jon Jay homered to momentarily tie the game at 3-3.

Speaking of Jay, he’s hit .288/.356/.442 in his 17 games over the the past 30 days. Just ahead of him? Surprisingly, Daniel Descalso — he’s played in 14 games and is .300/.364/.350. Jhonny Peralta is second in that span, just behind AJP, hitting .307/.395/.400 in 22 games. Tony Cruz, if you’re wondering, is hitting .171/.237/.229 in the past 30 days. (Yes, his slugging percentage is lower than his OBP — just like Daniel Descalso’s.)

Maybe it’s Yadi’s leadership behind the plate that’s missed the most, as a quick glance at the pitching stats for the past 30 days indicates. Not a surprise that Pat Neshek has the lowest ERA in that span at 0.82, with Trevor Rosenthal second at 1.64. Then we get to the starters: Lance Lynn is 2-2 in five starts with a 2.32 ERA. Shelby Miller is 1-1 in four starts and five games, 3.65. Adam Wainwright is 2-2 in four starts, 4.88. Joe Kelly was 1-1 in three starts, 5.40. Before being sent to Memphis, Carlos Martinez was 0-1 in two starts and three appearances, 8.68.

Next are the two new guys, although having watched the weekend’s games in Baltimore, you know their numbers are ugly. In two starts, John Lackey is 1-1 with a 8.25 ERA. Justin Masterson also is 1-1 in two starts … and his ERA is 11.25.

The good news about Yadi is that he had his cast removed recently and, according to Derrick Goold in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “has been outfitted with several splints, manager Mike Matheny said, and one of them allows for increased movement.”

Of course, the initial prognosis was that Yadi would be out eight to 12 weeks, so we’re still looking at possibly four more weeks until he returns.

What those four weeks will bring, given how the Cardinals have done is Yadi’s absence, certainly is anyone’s guess.

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