St. Louis Cardinals Can Hold Down the Fort Until Chris Carpenter Returns

Jeff SucherContributor IIIApril 10, 2012

CINCINNATI, OH - APRIL 9: David Freese #23 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrates with teammate Lance Berkman #12 after hitting a two-run home run in the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on April 9, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

With the aging Chris Carpenter on the DL to start the season, there was concern about the Cardinals getting a quick start out of the gates.

Well, Cardinal fans, no need to worry—taking four out of five to start the season and two of three from the division rival Brewers, the Cardinals are off to a very nice start.

It's hard to think that the worst (if you can call it that) start of the season thus far came from Adam Wainwright, who gave up three runs in 5.2 innings of work on Saturday in Milwaukee. 

Kyle Lohse certainly brought his A-game to Miami to start the season, flirting with a no-hitter into the seventh inning on opening night. Jaime Garcia followed Lohse with a quality start and a win in Milwaukee Friday.

Then you have second-year pitcher Lance Lynn, who is filling Carpenter's spot in the rotation. All he did in his first start of the season was pitch 6.2 innings, give up just one earned run, strike out eight, and allow just one free pass to come away with the win.

Jake Westbrook hadn't pitched well during his time in a Cardinal uniform coming into this season.  Following up on a solid spring, however, Westbrook pitched seven strong against the Reds in his first start of the season, allowing only three hits and one unearned run. The sinker appears to be sinking and the Cardinals rotation is starting out the season with a bang.

Add to that a hot start by Rafael Furcal, Carlos Beltran and David Freese, and the Cardinals are looking like contenders from the get-go. Twice already this season, the Cards have hit three home runs in an inning and are showing thus far they aren't missing that guy named Pujols who packed up and headed West in the offseason.

Freese is batting .417 to start the 2012 campaign with eight RBI in five games to go along with two homers. Going back to the NLCS last season, Freese is batting .438 with six home runs and 24 RBI in his last 18 games. 

So, to sum it up, while the 36-year-old ace is finding a way to heal and get back to anchoring the St. Louis rotation after nerve irritation has led to weakness in his pitching shoulder, the rest of the squad hasn't skipped a beat since winning it all last year. Twelve in '12? (Number of Cardinal World Series victories if they were to win it all in 2012.) Maybe way too early to make that prediction, but it sure has a nice ring to it if you ask Cardinal Nation.