Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

cardinals logoThe Cardinals have lost five of their last eight games since taking three of four against the Cubs in St. Louis. Meanwhile, the Cubs are 7-2 since leaving St. Louis. Baseball can flip the script on you at the drop of a hat.

Here are some other happenings as we keep an eye on the NL Central leaders:

  • The Cardinals allowed a season-high 10 runs and 17 hits in Friday’s loss to the Tigers. Probably not the way they envisioned starting their weekend.
  • Help might be on the way in the form of Jaime Garcia, who threw 90 pitches in a rehab start for Double-A Springfield on Friday. He described himself as “as close as I can be” when asked if he was ready to re-join the Cardinals’ rotation, adding: “I felt really good physically. My timing, my command are definitely getting better.” Garcia walked none and struck out six over six innings against the Royals’ Double-A affiliate, which featured Royals top prospect Raul Adalberto Mondesi and former Cardinal Rafael Furcal. We discussed Garcia and his spring training injury here back before the season started. He could be back as soon as Thursday against the Mets.

  • Immediate help could come as early as tonight when Lance Lynn takes the ball against the Tigers in ESPN’s Sunday game of the week. Lynn (3.27 ERA, 2.40 FIP, 1.3 WAR) has been the Cardinals’ best pitcher and could soon shed the de facto ace label if he keeps up his current pace. A piece on Fangraphs recently dropped a favorable comp on him — St. Louis-born Max Scherzer.
  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz says the Cardinals must trade for a starter. Miklasz writes: “The Cardinals can’t entirely depend on unproven and erratic starters (Carlos Martinez). They can’t load the high innings-pitched totals on young starters that broke down a year ago (Michael Wacha). They can’t bank on the durability of Jaime Garcia, or exaggerate the potential of an inexperienced Marco Gonzales.”
  • Martinez has the highest upside of the bunch Miklasz mentioned, but he has been a mixed bag this season. The Cardinals won all four of his starts in April as he posted a 3-0 record and 1.80 ERA. However, he did pitch to a 4.47 FIP and limited batters to a .210 BABIP. Since his May 4 start against the Cubs, Martinez is 0-2 with a 10.29 ERA, 5.37 FIP and batters own a .500 BABIP against him. Overall, the Cardinals are 5-2 in Martinez’s starts, but that might not be able to last if he continues to pitch to his current 4.80 FIP. Regression to the mean comes for all of us — yes, even the Cardinals.

  • Prospect Marco Gonzales has struggled in his most recent tour of the minors. He has allowed four earned runs or more in three of his five starts at Triple-A Memphis, pitched in four innings in three starts and owns a 1.70 WHIP and 7.66 ERA. Opponents are slashing .344/.390/.570/.960 with a .370 BABIP against Gonzales in his Triple-A starts.
  • Maybe Carlos Villanueva could earn a spot in their rotation? The former Cub is in his first season with the Cardinals has been excellent as their long man, posting an 0.50 ERA. In fact, Villanueva hasn’t allowed an earned run in his last 8 appearances, covering 15.1 innings.
  • GM John Mozeliak discussed Gonzales, the return of Randal Grichuk and more on Friday. You can check out the video here.
  • As for the offense, the Cards have become a bit homer reliant of late; their last 12 runs scored have all come courtesy of the long ball — including three solo shots in Saturday’s loss.
  • The last eight games have been a struggle for the Cardinals, who have slashed .246/.302/.416/.718. Seems unfathomable after the Cardinals slashed .311/.379/.459/.838 en route to scoring 27 runs in four games against the Cubs in the four games leading up to this stretch of offensive woes.

  • In lighter news, the Cardinals welcomed a 106-year-old fan to throw out the first pitch on Friday. So, that’s neat.
  • On the other hand, there was this moment of vanity among baseball’s best fans:

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