The Cardinals are currently tied for second place with the Cubs, at 5.5 games back. The Brewers still have a strong hold on first place in the National League Central. The season may be about halfway over, but the race to the playoffs isn’t over until October.
The Cardinals have run very hot and cold so far this season, leading to a 43-45 record going into the break. The team has played well the last few weeks, winning a series against the Mets, tying the series with the Marlins, and winning both series against the Nationals and the Diamondbacks. Tommy Pham, Paul Dejong and Luke Voit have been instrumental these past few weeks. Dejong had a phenomenal outing in the series against the Mets, going 9-11, including three homeruns and four doubles. He recorded a total of seven extra-base hits, making him the first MLB rookie in the modern era to chalk up over six extra-base hits in a three-game series.
Players have been moved around a little bit in the last few weeks, in an attempt to find a winning combination. Dejong spent some time at second base, covering for Kolten Wong, before shifting to shortstop after Aledmys Diaz was sent down to the minors. Matt Carpenter has been moved from first base to second base, to allow Luke Voit to play first base. Tommy Pham has been tearing it up in the outfield, most recently covering center field for Dexter Fowler, who just returned from a stint on the DL with a heel spur. Pham was called up back on May 5, and fans do not predict a return ticket to Memphis for him any time soon. So the question arises, who is starting in the outfield? Fowler, Pham, Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty would all like to play every day, but there are only three positions. Also waiting in the wings are Jose Martinez, who was just sent down to AAA, and Magneuris Sierra, who debuted earlier this season after being called up from High-A Palm Beach. The team definitely has options when it comes to arranging their outfield, so it will likely come down to who is performing more consistently.
The team’s biggest problem this season has been consistency. The starting rotation, the bullpen, batting, everything has been inconsistent. The starting rotation has had some issues, Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha specifically, had some problems earlier, but they have been pitching much better as of late. Waino is currently 10-5 and Wacha is 6-3, so fans will be watching closely to see if they can end this season on a high note. The bullpen has cleaned up its act and is performing much better than it was in the very beginning of the season. Brett Cecil has shown up and is starting to earn his keep. If the team can be consistent through the second half of the season, the Cardinals have a definite chance to make the playoffs. If the team’s batters continue to show up and perform, they could very well be playing through October.
The team has proven that they should never be counted out, so the second half of the season should be interesting to watch. Fans should keep in mind, it’s not over until October.