The Winning Formula
If you would have told me that Lance Lynn and Kyle Lohse would be 4-0, Jaime Garcia 2-0, Westbrook 3-1, and Wainwright 0-3 I would say you are joking right? Granted I always had faith in Garcia and even Lynn, and I always hoped that Lohse would finally perform but never would I have thought he would be pitching like this. Wainwright struggled in his first three starts but his last one showed a great amount of promise, if Waino can get back on track, the NL needs to watch out because there is a new stud rotation in the game and it is not the Phillies.
Pitching is one of the absolute most important things on a winning team. Typically the baseball winning formula includes the following: good pitching, good bullpen, good offense, good defense, and of course depth.However it is nearly impossible to find all of these components so sometimes a mix and match are necessary.But the 2012 Cardinals might just have it all.
As I have mentioned the Cardinals are already on the fast track with their solid rotation. When Wainwright finally puts it all together the Cardinals might just have the best rotation in the National League even better than the Phillies, Giants, and Braves. It all depends on health and if some of our guys can keep up with their strong starts. Kyle Lohse and Lance Lynn have been pitching like the Carpenter and Wainwright tandum of 2009 that both lost out on one of the worst Cy Young ballots in history. Garcia and Westbrook are also pitching terrific, which adds to the strength of the rotation. Also sometime mid-season the Cardinals will get Chris Carpenter back last year’s clutch big time pitcher which might just be the ultimate addition to an already strong rotaiton. The question will be, who gets kicked out of the rotaiton? If Lynn keeps it up can you possibly nix him out just because of his young age? The best part of this problem is that these are the problems you want to have on a team.
Though the Cardinals have blown three saves already and two in a row to the pitiful Chicago Cubs, the pen still shows huge signs of promise and potential. Most of the excitement comes from the young relievers like Mitchell Boggs, Fernando Salas, Marc Rzepczynski, and the closer Jason Motte as well as some even better talent chained away in Memphis (Eduardo “Sanchezinator” Sanchez.) The Cardinals also have some solid veterans in the pen like J.C. Romero and Kyle McClellan who if they stay on track could be huge keys to the Cardinals success. Mitchell Boggs and Jason Motte may be one of the most exciting parts to this Cardinals team, both have high heat and huge potential and both are late inning relievers. I have already wrote my love song to them, declaring that I love seeing them as the 8-9 guys. If they can stay on track and not blow cheap saves like we saw in Chicago the Cardinals will have a dominant young back end of the bullpen for years to come.
Last year’s second biggest concern next to the ailing bullpen was the Cardinals defense. They secured the middle infield by acquiring veteran short stop Rafael Furcal last season, to which they signed too a two year deal in the off-season to keep the short stop position safe for a few years. Furcal has a strong arm and a solid glove and has already made a pretty big impact, but he is not the only one that has impacted the Cardinals defensively. Carlos Beltran even with his surgically repaired knees has been a pretty good fielder with a strong arm, Jon Jay has shown that he can play a pretty damn good center field, and of course there is the four time Gold glove and recently awarded Platinum Glove award winner Yadier Molina behind the plate. The Cardinals might not be the best defenders in the league but they are not a weakness by any means, well as long as you count out second base.
The Cardinals always seem to be among the top in the National League in offense even now without Albert Pujols. Mark McGwire has really made an impression as the hitting coach for the Cardinals over the past three years which gives the Cardinals another upper hand. But the real story of the Cardinals offense is the talent of it’s players. The Cardinals have Matt Holliday who won the batting title in 2007 he has been an All star 5 times in his career, and he has won four Silver Slugger awards. Lance Berkman currently on the DL is also a force behind the plate, last years Comeback player of the year award is also a 6 time All Star and has pretty good career numbers behind the plate batting .296 with 358 homers, and he has driven in 1,195. Carlos Beltran is a similar story to Berkman, though he is older now Beltran still has a good bat. Beltran the 6 time All Star, 1999 AL ROY, and a two time Silver Slugger Beltran is off to a solid start this season already leading the team in homers and steals with 5. Yadier Molina has also shown in the past few years that he has been able to swing the bat much better than he has been in the past, last year he had career highs in nearly all offensive categories and he led the team with his .305 average. The Cardinals also have many other offensive weapons like the young David Freese, Jon Jay, Allen Craig when he returns and the veteran shortstop Rafael Furcal. The Cardinals have an intimidating lineup even with some of their stars hurt.
I have already written a whole story on the Cardinals and the importance of depth which you can read here. But to recap it, the Cardinals proved last year the importance of having good depth which ultimately lead the Cardinals to the 2011 World Series Championship. This year the Cardinals still have solid depth with guys like “Sugar” Shane Robinson, Matt Carpenter, Skip Schumaker, and Daniel Descalso. Most importantly the Cardinals have had the biggest production from Lance Lynn who has filled in marvelously for the injured Chris Carpenter. The Cardinals will also have Allen Craig back in a few weeks and that addition will be one of the biggest as long as Craig can stay healthy and hit like he is capable of.
The Cardinals have the whole package, a strong rotation, a solid bullpen, good defense, great offense, and a good amount of depth. Already the Cardinals are leading the NL central with their 14-7 record and they have looked pretty impressive winning all but one of their 8 series this season. If Mike Matheny‘s ball club can keep it up and play to potential the Cardinals could very well repeat as World Series Champions.