The Cardinals got some much needed momentum Sunday after sweeping the Florida Marlins heading into an important series with the Milwaukee Brewers. What are the Cardinals chances of overtaking the Brewers and winning the NL Central? We’ll answer that question by taking a look at how the Cardinals have fared so far in 2011 and what they need to do to overtake the Brewers and win the division.
Here are a few key components to consider that will help us determine whether the Cardinals will be participants or spectators for the 2011 MLB playoffs:
One of the main factors for a team consistently winning its division is how well it plays within its division. In 2010 the Cardinals finished second overall behind the Cincinnati Reds partly because of their 39-39 record in divisional play. The Reds finished the 2010 season at 49-30 in NL Central play. So far in 2011 the Cardinals are 26-22 against NL Central foes. That’s not great, but better than average. However, with 31 divisional games remaining, it is within their power to triumph as division champs. Sixteen of the 31 games at home means there is a good chance St. Louis controls their own destiny. The Brewers on the other hand have 34 divisional games remaining – only 12 of which are at Miller Park. Advantage – Cardinals.
Despite a mediocre 2010 season the Cardinals pitching staff was one of the teams’ strongest areas. Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter went a combined 36-20. Wainwright was a mainstay with a 20 win season on a staff that had the fourth-lowest ERA in the league (3.57). Since Wainwright is shelved with an elbow injury and Carpenter struggling with a record of 7-8 the Cardinals have had to rely on some unlikely sources such as Jamie Garcia (10-5) and Kyle Lohse (9-7) to fill the void. Should the Cardinals strong arm the Brewers and clinch the NL Central title pitching will be key down the stretch. Carpenter will have to dig deep despite his aging body. Garcia has earned, though by default, the title of “ace” of the staff and must pitch with that attitude and determination during the remaining games in order for the Cardinals to have a chance. Bullpen is still a concern but the recent trading deadline deal may have addressed that issue.
Clutch hitting is no secret to success in baseball. This is going to be more evident this year than in any recent years for the Cardinals. The reason being is that first baseman Albert Pujols is having a sub par season (for Pujols anyway) . In 2010 Pujols hit 42 HR (led the league), had 118 RBI and had a BA of .312. Pujols current statistics reads like so: HR 27, 69 RBI and has a BA of .283 (45 pts below career avg.). Cleanup hitter Matt Holliday and newcomer Lance Berkman will be relied on heavily to deliver timely hitting. With the recent addition of shortstop Rafael Furcal, a career .283 hitter the Cardinals have added a little punch to their lineup and increased their chances of regaining their position as the best of the NL Central.
About the Author
Written by Chaz Ingram
During his lengthy career Chaz has worked in various areas of the media. As an actor he has appeared on such shows as "Less Than Perfect" "CSI New York" and "Outlaw". He's performed on stage in such plays as "West Side Story", "The Wiz" "Oliver" and "Sugar". He has also landed roles in several commercials most notably as a reporter for "NFL Legends" and as a model for Ameriquest Mortgage. Chaz's extensive background in the broadcast industry has given him invaluable experience in several areas of the business. His work as an assignment desk intern as well as in the news and sports departments at the local ABC and NBC TV stations in St. Louis, MO has given him experence on various levels of news production. Chaz is a former host of of his own radio show "The Spirit of Chaz", where he was also writer and producer at KXEN in St. Louis. As a Marketing Consultant at KSDK-TV (NBC) Chaz was a major contributor to the station's #1 position in overall sales in the St. Louis market. At KEZK radio he was awarded "rookie of the year" for his achievements in sales. The St. Louis Business Journal recognized Chaz as one of their "40 Under 40" awardees for his work in the community with youth. Additionally, St. Louis public Schools recognized him as "Role Model of the Year" in 1995 & 1996. He is the recipient of the 1989 edition of "Outstanding Young Men of America". Chaz currently resides in Los Angeles where he owns Nicolexis Inspirations a motivational and life coach company.