This isn’t a foreign position for the Cardinals, who just last season went on an amazing second-half run and ended up winning the 2011 World Series.
If they are going to match that magic in 2012, they’ll need a few key players to step up and contribute more than they did in the first half.
So, let’s take a quick look at three players who need to do better if the Redbirds are going to have a chance to defend their World Series title.
Adam Wainwright, SP
Wainwright is still recovering from Tommy John surgery that cost him the entire 2011 season.
He’s struggled at times but has also had some promising starts en route to a 7-8 record and 4.56 ERA in the first half of the season.
If he can develop more consistency and look more like the ace he was in 2010, the Cardinals won’t need to make a trade for another starter at the trade deadline.
If that’s the case, they’ll be able to hold onto several of their key prospects while still competing for a World Series in the short term.
Tyler Greene/Daniel Descalso, 2B
The Cardinals have been getting absolutely nothing from the second base position offensively.
Greene is hitting a measly .226 with four home runs and 16 RBI, while Descalso is hitting only .223 with three homers and 11 RBI.
If either of these guys want to keep playing consistently, they need to pick it up soon.
Once Skip Schumaker is healthy enough to play every day, his .304 average and 15 RBI will help the offense more than either Greene or Descalso.
Marc Rzepczynski, RP
Rzepczynski is the main lefty pitcher in the Cardinals bullpen, but he has struggled mightily so far in 2012.
Scrabble has a very disappointing 5.52 ERA after posting a 3.34 ERA in 2011 and has already allowed six home runs in 2012 after allowing only three last year.
If he can’t figure things out quickly during the second half of this season, the Cardinals are going to need to acquire another left-handed reliever to shut down guys like Joey Votto and Jay Bruce during the stretch run.
But, if Rzepczynski can turn it around, the Cardinals might just have enough in their tank to make another late-season playoff run.