No, this isn’t a cheesy show with Dan McLaughlin or Rick Horton. Every Sunday, I’ll give you a little food for thought on the Cardinals week in the form of good, bad and neutral. I’ll also volunteer some previews of what I think will be notable match-ups or games in the upcoming week.
***Joel Piñero--- Piñero lowered his ERA almost 3 whole runs with his stud-like effort on Thursday against Pittsburgh. Granted it was the Pirates, but there were a few numbers that stood out.
After having no strikeouts in his first two starts, Piñero had six in seven innings, allowing four hits and one run, throwing 97 pitches. After being rushed back to start his season, he finally appears to be back on track.
He’ll be an essential part of the rotation as a proven pitcher if (and when) Todd Wellemeyer and Kyle Lohse come back to earth.
***Adam Wainwright--- Wainwright is finally proving he’s worthy of the title of “ace”. Wainwright through a workhorse-like 226 pitches in two starts this week, compiling an ERA of 2.81.
The true show of courage was his complete-game, 127 pitch performance against the Astros. However, he’s not throwing as hard as he has in the past, and those pitch-count totals will take their toll.
***Brendan Ryan--- At age 26, Ryan is getting a little old to be a star-prospect. However, he might be a future starter. Bringing energy and solid fielding, Ryan started the season hitting .333 this week, starting 4 straight games with Caesar Izturis injured. The Cardinals need to shore up their middle infield in order to seriously contend.
***Cards get heated!--- The feud with the Astros started a couple weeks ago involving Brandon Backe and Albert Pujols, and came to a climax this weekend.
On Saturday, Brad Ausmus flipped out and almost charged the mound when a Wainwright pitch sailed behind him. On Sunday, Yadier Molina was brushed back by a Backe pitch high and tight. Molina, who is probably Albert’s closest friend on the team, went ballistic.
Screaming and pointing, Yadi attempted to charge the mound, pushing Towles. It was awesome. Had he made it out there, he would have beat Backe's ass. Benches cleared, threats were made, and when all was settled, nothing tangible really was accomplished, but a victory occurred.
The Cardinals were flat and empty last season, and this altercation showed they are both united, and ready to aggressively pursue the division title.
***Rick Ankiel--- In the past week, Ankiel had three hits, and saw his average fall 31 points. Streaky hitting is granted to be a trend with Ankiel, as he doesn’t even have 300 ABs as an outfielder.
One positive aspect of his slumps his five walks. By staying patient, Ankiel is getting on base and showing faith in his skills as a hitter.
***Jason Isringhausen--- Three innings pitched this week for Izzy, two losses, and only one strikeout. Although he has eight saves this season, Izzy seems to have begun his inevitable decline. Hopefully he’ll regain form and shake these early problems.
***Bullpen--- The bullpen lost every game that the team lost and had to work 19 innings in the last seven days. Izzy, Ryan Franklin and Reyes have struggled off-and-on.
The ‘pen was a position of strength for a subpar club last season. It has to have a repeat performance for the team to have a shot at the Central this year as well.
***Mark Mulder--- Although Mulder continued his rehab assignment, throwing five innings for Double-A Springfield, he allowed four runs in five innings, but after the first inning, only allowed one run. He wasn’t great, but still made progress.
Overall, a decent week for the Cardinals. Honestly, they should have gone 6-1, but two late leads were blown. But it was definitely a positive week. The Cardinals clearly don't fear Milwaukee, and seem to own Houston. The Cubs seem to have come off their recent surge after dropping a series at Washington, so look for the Cards to make a move in the next week if they remain consistent.