St. Louis Cardinals: Will Yadier Molina Step Up in the 2012 Playoffs?

Jeff Sucher@jeffsucherContributor IIIOctober 7, 2012

ST. LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 1: Yadier Molina #4 of the St. Louis Cardinals returns to the dugout after scoring a run against the Cincinnati Reds at Busch Stadium on October 1, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

With the letdown from the defense and bullpen in the eighth inning of Sunday's game, a few questions need to be answered.  Is Pete Kozma ready for the big time after two blunders in two games?  Will the bullpen be able to close out games?  Who will step up and be the hero this year as David Freese was last year?

The Cardinals had all kinds of chances to blow the game open Sunday and yet were only able to scrape out two runs.  While it is only one game, Cardinal Nation is hopeful this is not indicative of what is to come in the 2012 postseason.

Last year, the bullpen and hot hitting led the Cardinals to their 11th World Championship.  This year the recipe probably needs to be the same.  But the question is, who will step up and put the Cardinals on his back?

With the amazing season Yadier Molina had, he is my guess to be the hero this year.  He was dependable many times during the season, hitting late-inning home runs and getting a clutch hit to give the Cardinals the lead. 

Yes, he hit into a double play with the bases loaded when the Cardinals needed to add some insurance runs.  But his stellar defense and ability to put the ball in play seem to lend themselves to success in this time of the year.

Yadi hit .321 with runners in scoring position with 51 RBIs this season and has hit .328 since the All-Star break.  Yadi has also been sneaky on the bases this season.  He led all major league catchers in stolen bases this season with 12, and he did it in 15 attempts.  If the situation presents itself this postseason, don't be surprised to see Yadi swipe a bag to get himself into scoring position.

The defense Molina plays speaks for itself.  He leads all catchers with 46 pickoffs since 2004.  In addition, this season Yadi threw out 48 percent of runners attempting to steal on him.  It's almost as if he dares opposing runners to run on him.

Long story short, Yadier Molina can be a hero in many ways this postseason.  Hopefully for Cardinal fans, he'll get a few more weeks to show what he can do.