Grades for Each St. Louis Cardinal in July
The end of July couldn't come fast enough. The St. Louis Cardinals will end July in second place after a seven-game skid to finish out the month.
While the Cardinals are still very much in play to win the division, they are going to have to figure out a way to win against teams with winning records. Since June, the Cardinals are 3-14 against teams with a winning record. That doesn't bode well come playoff time if they can't right the ship.
None of the Cardinals played overly well in July, but especially those fellas swinging the sticks.
But I digress. Here is a grade for each Cardinals player for the month of July.
Adam Wainwright - Wainwright has his worst statistical month of 2013, and yet some starting pitchers would love to have his stat line. Waino was 2-1 with a 3.77 ERA in his six starts and pitched six or more innings in all of his starts. However, he blew it in Pittsburgh when he had the chance to end the losing streak. The Cardinals gave him the lead multiple times and he could not hold it. Grade: B
Lance Lynn - Lynn is starting to show signs of his midsummer form from 2012. While he had a solid start against the Pirates this week, Lynn hasn't been great in July. Lynn was 2-3 in July and posted an awful 4.84 ERA, with hitters batting .296 off him. Lynn has got to step up going forward for the Cardinals to succeed. Grade: C-
Shelby Miller - Miller has done a nice job thus far in his official rookie campaign. After having a rough June, Miller bounced back in July. He posted a 2-1 record in July with a 2.78 ERA. While he didn't make a start of longer than six innings, Miller did enough in his starts to give the Cardinals a chance to win, and the team responded by going 3-1 in his four starts. Grade: A-
Jake Westbrook - Westbrook continued to be what he most of the time is, average. Westbrook was 3-2 in July with a 3.62 ERA. Westbrook can't be counted on to pitch well against solid competition, and it showed against the Pirates on Monday night. Only 10 pitches into the game, the Cardinals were down 4-0 and couldn't make up the difference in their way to a loss. Westbrook needs to step up his game quickly. Grade: C
Joe Kelly - Kelly started three games in July for the Cardinals. He posted a 1-0 record with a 2.55 ERA and pitched very well in two of the three starts. Kelly's versatility has been a huge benefit for manager Mike Matheny. It appears at this point Kelly will be the fifth starter, at least in the short term. Grade: A-
Tyler Lyons - It's unclear how long Lyons will stay with the big league club. He has gotten destroyed in his last four starts and is proving he needs more time in Memphis. His latest debacle came in his only start in July for the Cardinals, a 6-0 loss in Pittsburgh. Lyons allowed four of the six earned runs and did not look sharp. Lyons isn't a hard thrower, and his pitches find too much of the plate. Grade: D-
Edward Mujica - Mujica has been a gem for the Cardinals as an impromptu closer. In July, Mujica made 13 appearances, had nine saves, posted a 2-1 record and put up a 1.50 ERA. The guy has just been money, even if all his appearances came against teams with losing records. Grade: A
Trevor Rosenthal - Mr. Rosenthal had a very good July until the last day. He couldn't keep the game tied in Pittsburgh, and the Cardinals lost their seventh straight game. Rosey had seven holds and struck out 18 in 12 innings while posting a 2.45 ERA. There is no doubt that he'll bounce back after a tough night against the Pirates. Grade: B+
Randy Choate - Choate was less than effective in July. He posted a 5.06 ERA and gave up five hits in his 5.1 innings pitched and took a loss in Atlanta. Not something you want to see from your lefty specialist. Grade: C-
Seth Maness - Maness was solid in July. He had a 3.00 ERA and racked up three holds and a win. Maness has done an excellent job in getting a ground ball when needed and is among the bullpen league leaders in producing double plays. Grade: B
Kevin Siegrist - I love this guy. He has done a great job in taking over for the now-departed Marc Rzepczynski. His numbers look a little askew due to giving up two earned runs this month. His ERA now sits at 3.86 and he took the loss in Pittsburgh on Tuesday. But before that, the rookie hadn't allowed an earned run all season, albeit in roughly 12 innings. He'll be a great addition for the Cardinals. Grade: B+
Michael Blazek - Blazek has been up and down from the minors in July. He is on the current roster, so he'll get a grade. He got bombed in his appearance on July 9, surrendering three earned runs in the ninth inning against the Astros. His other two appearances were solid and he did not allow any runs. Grade: C-
Keith Butler - Butler made three appearances in July and his first two were great. But in his third, he gave up two earned runs in a 6-0 loss to the Pirates. With such limited duty, his ERA was 4.15 for the month. Grade: C-
Yadier Molina - Yadier gave his all as he always does and now finds himself on the DL with a knee strain. But before his injury, Molina had a decent July. Yadi batted a pedestrian .268 in July, but with his white-hot start he still finds his batting average at .330. Rest will serve Yadi well, and hopefully he'll be ready for the stretch run, because with the way the Cardinals are playing right now, they're going to need him. Grade: B+
Tony Cruz - Cruz is a backup catcher, plain and simple. He does a serviceable job when called upon, but he is nothing flashy. Cruz batted .318 in his limited playing time in July and raised his batting average to .203. Cruz will have to step up now that Yadi is on the 15-day DL. Grade: B
Allen Craig - Craig was in a massive funk the last week of July. He finished the month in a 1-for-27 slump, and yet his batting average for the month of July was .318. His season average sits at .316, and Craig is still dangerous as can be with runners in scoring position, posting a blistering .475 average. Craig will snap out his slump soon. Grade: B+
Matt Carpenter - Matt Carpenter and Allen Craig were first-time All-Stars in 2013. Both deserved their spots on the roster, but both have struggled since the break. Carpenter got a rest last night in Pittsburgh to see if he can get back on track. Carp batted .277 in July and looks like he is adjusting to playing a full major league season. My guess is he'll get back to where he was before the All-Star Game and finish strong. Grade: B
Pete Kozma - The guy just can't hit. He had multiple chances at the plate to help the Cardinals break out their season-long losing streak, but just couldn't get the job done. In my opinion, his defense doesn't make up for his lack of offense. Kozma batted .217 in July and just didn't get the job done time after time. If he played defense like Ozzie, it would be all water under the bridge. But he doesn't. A change is needed. Grade: D
David Freese - After having a nice June, July has been miserable for Freese at the plate. He batted a paltry .225 with no home runs and only seven RBI. Freese is going to have to step it up in August to help the Cardinals challenge for the NL Central title. Grade: D+
Matt Adams - Adams got a chance for a few more at-bats in July, and frankly didn't play that well. He batted a meager .239 in his 67 July at-bats and only hit one home run. With the rotation in place putting Craig in the outfield and giving Beltran rest, Adams will continue to get plate appearances. Hopefully for Cardinal fans, he'll find his power stroke again. Grade: C-
Daniel Descalso - Descalso followed suit with the majority of his teammates and had a poor month of July at the plate. Descalso batted a sickening .200 in his 50 at-bats. While he is a solid glove man, Descalso will have to start seeing the ball like he did in May and June when he batted .368 and .333, respectively. Grade: D+
Matt Holliday - With time spent on the DL in July, Holliday didn't have a complete month. However, what portion of the month he did play was OK. Not awful, not great. Holliday batted .286 but only hit two home runs and drove in nine runs in his 47 at-bats. Hopefully as Holliday starts to hit, he can put the Cardinals on his burly shoulders and carry them for a while in August. Grade: B
Jon Jay - Jon Jay plays an amazing center field. He tracks the baseball as well as anyone in the National League. Now it is time for him to step up at the plate and start producing. He hit OK in July, posting a .276 average. But he needs to rack up more extra-base hits and get himself into scoring position. Jay only had six extra-base hits in July. Grade: B-
Carlos Beltran - I wonder if Carlos Beltran has seen Groundhog Day. He is starting to fade just as he did last year at this time. Beltran batted a meager .241 in July with no home runs. Beltran should get more time off in August to see if he can stay fresh down the stretch run. The entire Cardinals outfield hasn't hit overly well in July. Here's to hoping for a better August. Grade: D+
Shane Robinson - Robinson had an outstanding July when he got to play before landing on the DL with a sprained shoulder. Robinson batted .400 in his 20 at-bats and has shown he is a very capable fourth outfielder. Grade: A