Even with the little hiccup the Cardinals have experienced lately with poor pitching and inconsistent hitting, the St. Louis team has hit the half way point with the second best record in baseball behind the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The bullpen seems to be shored up for the moment, but the Cardinals have had to use a boatload of rookie pitchers to get to this point in the season. Shelby Miller has come back to earth a bit, but hopefully he'll find a way to correct him issues and get back on track. But rookies relievers Seth Maness, Kevin Siegrist and Kevin Butler have done a nice job when called upon.
Now the offense needs a little more consistency and things will be just fine. The Cardinals seem to score in bunches at times and can't put runs across for anything at other times. It is not as bad as it was in 2012, but more consistency at the plate never hurt anyone.
Here is a look at second-half predictions for each Cardinal player.
Adam Wainwright -
Waino just pitched a gem in Oakland last weekend, and there is no reason to believe he won't continue his great pitching in the second half. Wainwright is on pace to win 22 games and is on pace to walk only 24 batters. An amazing walk-to-win ratio for an amazing ace.
Lynn has been the beneficiary of the best run support in the National League at 6.56 runs per game. He hasn't been overly sharp in the majority of his starts in 2013, but effective enough to get 10 wins thus far. Look for Lynn to be a 6 to 7 inning pitcher with a 3.50-plus ERA who will probably finish with 16-18 wins.
Honestly, I have never been a fan of Westbrook. He is a soft thrower and if his sinker isn't sinking, he is basically throwing batting practice. I don't expect him to be anything more than a .500 pitcher the rest of the way depending on run support.
Miller has struggled as of late, but still has eight wins and an excellent 2.79 ERA. Not bad for a rookie who has major expectations on his shoulders. Hopefully Miller will fix whatever has ailed him in his three starts and correct himself to his early 2013 form. I expect Miller to be a 12-15 game winner when it is all said and done this season.
For the time being, Kelly is slated to be the fifth starter for the Cardinals. He has been solid as of late, including a good outing in Oakland where he had to pitch 5.1 innings in relief and only surrendered one earned run. If Kelly can consistently pitch 5 to 6 innings a start and keep the Cardinals in the game, he'll do just fine in the fifth spot in the rotation.
Mujica has been dang near perfect for the Cardinals as he assumed the closer role in late April. Mujica has yet to blow a save and is on pace to close 42 games. Expect Mujica to keep shutting the door when called upon.
Trevor Rosenthal has been what Mitchell Boggs was last season for the Cardinals: one of the best setup men in baseball. Rosenthal throws heat and racks up strikeouts. Rosenthal has 56 strikeouts in 39 innings pitched and is second in the NL with 17 holds. Unless something drastic happens, Rosenthal will continue to be dominant when called upon.
Maness has been a great guy to call upon when a ground ball is needed. In his 26.2 innings pitched, Maness has produced nine ground ball double plays. While he doesn't throw overly hard, he does seem to get the job done more times than not. Maness has done enough to keep his roster spot for the rest of the season and fill in during middle relief needs.
Choate has done his job when facing lefties, boasting an ERA of 0.73 against left-handed batters, but his ERA balloons to 5.06 against right-handed batters. But taking into account Choate has only pitched 17.2 innings in his 29 appearances, expect him to continue to fill the left specialist role and get the job done when facing lefties anyway.
Siegrist has been lights out since his call up in early June. He has given the Cardinals some flexibility in the bullpen with another lefty. Siegrist has struck out 13 in his 10 innings pitched thus far. Unless he gets bombed in the near future or for some strange reason the Cardinals re-call Marc Rzepczynski, Seigrist should be safe in the second half.
Butler is another one of the many rookies who has pitched for the Cardinals this season. Butler has done nice job in his 10 appearances. Butler has posted a 2.38 ERA and has held opposing batters to a .105 average. Butler may keep his spot depending on how Mitchell Boggs continues to fix mechanics in Memphis.
Blazek has a negligible sample size to make a determination on what will happen for him going forward in 2013. Either he or Butler will probably head back to Memphis to make room for Mitchell Boggs, if he ever figures out what is wrong with his pitching.
Yadier Molina is the best catcher in baseball, period. He leads the NL with a .345 batting average and has already cranked out 26 doubles, also good for first in the NL. I expect Yadi to cool a bit, but to still finish over .300 and drive in 80-plus runs before it's all said and done. Oh yeah, make room on the shelf for another Platinum Glove.
Cruz will never be a starter with the Cardinals unless injury necessitates, but he is solid behind the plate when spelling Yadi, even if he can't hit. Cruz is batting a slim .152 in his limited plate appearances. But again, Cruz is only there to spell Yadi and will probably get a few more games in during the second half as Yadi gets more rest in possible post season prep.
Allen Craig is the man you want at the plate when runners are on base. Craig is batting .453 with runners in scoring position with 53 RBI. Craig is second the NL with 63 RBI with only nine home runs. Expect Craig to keep swinging his hot stick through the second half and finish with 110-plus RBI.
No one saw Matt Carpenter's 2013 season coming. Carpenter is worthy of an All-Star spot with his .322 batting average and his 60 runs scored, good for second in the NL. For a guy who is playing an all-new position, Carpenter has far exceeded expectations. Look for Carpenter to keep up his tactics for getting on base and scoring runs at a tremendous rate.
Pete Kozma has been solid manning shortstop for the Cardinals this season. He is not tearing up any pitching with his .244 average, but he does a nice job at short and will be the starter for the rest of the season.
After a really slow start, Freese has come on lately. After hitting a measly .163 in April, Freese hit .299 in May and .319 in June. With such a solid lineup around him, Freese will continue to see good pitches and he hopefully will finish with a .285-plus batting average and double-digit home runs.
After a two-home run game in Oakland last weekend, Adams has proved he is worthy of more at-bats. He'll get a few more this week as the Cardinals will play the Angels in Los Angeles, and he'll probably be the DH or first baseman during each game of the series. Adams will then be limited to playing maybe once or twice a week and will have to be ready when his at-bats come.
Descalso has surprised me with his bat in 2013. Always known for his glove, Descalso has been pretty solid at the plate in 2013. He is what every team wants in a utility-man. As mentioned, he is a plus-defender, but now he has learned to hit at the big league level. Descalso has a .274 batting average, but has 15 extra-base hits in his 37 hits this season. He'll hopefully continue to hit as the season progresses.
This guy is just awful, no two ways about it. His bat is slow, his feet are slow and he is grossly overpaid. Expect him to take up a spot on the bench that should be going to a developing player in Memphis.
Beltran has been everything the Cardinals could have wanted and then some when the signed him in the 2011 off-season. Beltran is mashing the ball right now and has smacked 19 home runs thus far and is batting .308. We saw this last season and Beltran struggled in the second half of 2012. Hopefully manager Mike Matheny will find a better way to keep him fresh down the stretch and keep him swinging a hot bat. The optimist in me says Beltran will not suffer the second half drop off he had last season.
Holliday has not been great so far in 2013. He is batting a very average .267 with only 11 home runs and 44 RBI. But he has scored 59 runs, good for third in the league. Holliday needs to have a much better second half to get anywhere close to his career averages. Hopefully the All-Star break will provide him the much needed battery charge for the second half.
The guy just hasn't hit in 2013. He plays a great center field, but is only batting .244 and has very limited power. Hopefully he'll be the fourth outfielder in 2014, but for now, his defensive prowess has kept him in the lineup in 2013. I think Jay will probably stay where he is in the lineup and not do much at the plate in the second half.
Robinson is a typical backup outfielder. He hasn't hit overly well, but plays decent defense and can spell Beltran or Holliday in the late-innings. He won't have a huge second half mostly due to his lack of playing time.