At the completion of game three in the Arizona Diamondback series, for the first time this season the St. Louis Cardinals came away with the sweep.
Cardinals starters Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, and Lance Lynn all had solid outings. In total, the big three accumulated 21.0 innings and 19 strikeouts, while only giving up 10 hits, 4 walks and 2 runs, both of which were earned.
While all starters had great games, only Wainwright walked away with a win, picking up his 18th career complete game and reaching his 7th win of the season. Wacha and Lynn, both with no decisions, heavily relied on the Cardinal’s middle relievers, namely Pat Neshek. In two appearances in the three game stretch, Neshek pitched 3.0 innings, while only giving up 2 hits, with no runs.
Currently, Neshek is the glue that holds together the Cards’ bullpen. With a 0.86 ERA, the middle reliever is hitting his stride prior to the All-Star break. For Cardinal fans, pitching has been a big concern, but with pitchers like Neshek, who needs to be worried?
Fans should also be excited to see the return of closer Jason Motte. Teammates seemed excited for his first appearances as media caught Trevor Rosenthal and Motte goofing around in pre-game warm-ups. Following his return from Tommy John surgery, Motte threw 1.2 innings, posting only one hit and no runs allowed. With his return, the bullpen yet again gains more depth and all around better pitching for the Cardinals this season.
Just a little over midway through the first half of the season, the Cardinals are only slightly behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central rankings. While sitting in second might not sit well with all, fans should appreciate the good play the team has had in a competitive division. It doesn’t seem as one team or another is pulling away with the division just yet, which makes for exciting baseball.
Starting Memorial Day, the Cardinals will begin interleague play facing off against the New York Yankees. The divisional rival Chicago Cubs played fairly well against the Yankees, handing their ace Masahiro Tanaka his first loss in nearly two years. It would be great to see the Cardinals play just as well against the Bronx Bombers.
Along with the interleague kick-off, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has been talking quite a bit about the DH position being filled. The Cardinals have a few prospects playing for the AAA affiliate Memphis Redbirds that look the part.
Standout outfielders Oscar Taveras and Randal Grichuk are raising eyebrows for the club. Many fans have been itching at the opportunity to see Taveras perform in the bigs following a promising spring training. With plenty of opportunities against the Yankees, Kansas City Royals, Toronto Blue Jays, and Tampa Bay Rays, Cardinals skipper Matheny has plenty of games to see the potential future of the ball.
This will be a great step forward in a recovering club that walked away from a World Series defeat last season. Taveras has been putting up big numbers for the Redbirds, posting a .322 average, .368 OBP, and a .520 slugging percentage. Grichuk has put together power numbers as well, knocking out 9 home runs, hitting 29 RBIs, and bringing in 32 runs. Both prospects bring youth and power to the ball club, something the lineup could use.
This potential to showcase the young talent within the organization is exciting. Over the next few weeks, the play of Taveras and Grichuk will define what type of team the Cardinals will be for the rest of the season, and years to come.