Sunday, August 22, 2010

Important Stretch on the Horizon

The Cards managed to salvage a disappointing homestand by taking the last two from the Giants. Still, 3-5 was not too good overall. 17 of the next 20 games are on the road now, which COULD be rough. I say could be because only 7 of the next twenty games are against winning teams. I three game short homestand against the Reds that splits the two road trips (which will obviously be big), and four games in Atlanta. The rest are against the Pirates, Brewers, Nationals and the Astros. The Cards actually haven't been that great against losing teams (I believe 5 games over .500) and they definitely have not been very good on the road. They need to change those two trends over the next three weeks if they want to stay in the playoff race. Overall, the schedule is pretty easy the rest of the way, but the Reds have an even easier schedule, so the Cards need to beat the teams they are supposed to beat. All three games against the Giants this weekend were on national TV, so I got a good look at where the squad is at right now.

Things I liked:
1. Great start by Garcia today. He seemed to be hitting that rookie wall recently, so its nice to see him bounce back with his best start of the year.
2. Jon Jay=the real deal. Sure, his average has come down a little, but it just about had to. He hits the ball back up the middle and the other way so often, I think he's going to continue to get hits. He's a big plus in the field and on the base paths as well.
3. Feliz could help more than I thought. He's definitely an upgrade defensively. I doubt he'll continue to hit as well as he did this weekend, but one can always hope I guess. Plus, there is no question Lopez is more comfortable on second instead of third.
4. LaRussa batting the pitcher ninth the last two games. I doubt he'll leave it that way indefinitely, but I think the line-up just has better balance in its traditional form. The way Brendan Ryan has hit this year, he wasn't doing much good as a "second lead-off" hitter anyway.

Things that worry me:
1. Bullpen depth. Motte is on the shelf, and Reyes has a minor injury also it seems, so the weight is on McClellen, Miller and Franklin for the most part. Hopefully that will change soon.
2. Rasmus can't stay healthy. When he is in the lineup, the team has tremendous potential offensively, but when he is out, there is no natural #5 hitter available. Jay is better suited at the top of the line-up, and Craig, despite his homerun today, hasn't shown much at this level as of yet.
3. The number #5 starter could still be our undoing. Just like last year, this spot seems to be cursed. I wonder what our winning percentage is with that spot? 20%? Worse? Maybe Lohse can re-discover himself, but I'm not optimistic.

We are actually closer to the wild-card than the central lead at the moment, but I still think catching the Reds is our best bet as the Phillies are finally getting healthy and will be tough these last 6 weeks. Again, the schedule is to our advantage, but what matters is the results.


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