Adversity brings a team together, right? But what about when the adversity affects the season-long strength of the team — the starting rotation? That’s what we’re about to find out from the 2014 St. Louis Cardinals as they embark on a 10-game road trip to face the Rockies, Dodgers and Giants minus Michael Wacha and Jaime Garcia.
The Cardinals currently are tied with the Dodgers for MLB’s best starter ERA at 3.08, just ahead of the A’s 3.10. Add the relievers in also and the Cards are third overall in MLB with a 3.18 ERA, behind the A’s at 3.02 and Nationals at 3.04. Yes, the Cards’ bullpen has improved much so that its ERA right now is 3.41 (seventh best in the NL, 11th in MLB).
With Carlos Martinez able to stay in the rotation, that’s a benefit. Joe Kelly is going to begin a rehab stint on Friday at Memphis — good news, as he will hopefully be back soon. Until he is, there are options currently at Memphis such as Tyler Lyons, Zach Petrick or Tim Cooney.
But then there’s the other side of the game: the offense. And with that, who knows? Though, with as good as the pitching has been lately, the way the offense goes is the way the game goes. Get hits, score runs? Winner! Fall flat, don’t score? Yeah, we’ve seen that plenty. The team is currently hitting .250/.318/.364, which is eighth/fifth/13th in the NL. Of course they’re still last in homers with just 42 — which is what the Royals have now as well.
A spark and any sense of urgency from this team seems to occasionally appear, leading us all to think “OK, now they’re playing like they should.” Then the Cards lose back-to-back games to the Phillies and have A.J. Burnett and his 13.50 Busch Stadium ERA throw a complete game against them.