This week, we welcome experienced Bleacher Report writer, John Lewis, to the panel. Week Two features writers Ben Weixlmann, Peter Fleischer, Derek Coffelt, and the aforementioned Lewis. Let us know what you think!
Question 1: With Albert Pujols' injury, who do you think will pick up the offensive slack?
BW: To stay away from what I believe will be the popular choice in Ryan Ludwick, I'm going to say Skip Schumaker. Skip is hitting .310, and although he hasn't shown his power on a consistent basis, he is capable of hitting one out at any time. I hope Schumaker can show how talented he really is at the dish while Pujols is out.
JL: While Prince Albert is recovering from injury there are three players that play important roles in not just the offense but also in team leadership, Ryan Ludwick, Skip Schumaker and Yadier Molina. Each has had a good week but the player that has picked up the slack and will continue is no surprise...Ryan Ludwick.
While both Schumaker and Molina have batted .333 in their last seven games, Ludwick has not only batted .333 but has 2 HR, 7 RBI, a .407 OB%, .708 SLG% for a 1.116 OPS.
As long as he doesn't start to think too much about his great season he should keep it up.
PF: I think with the way Troy Glaus is hitting, he'll be the most notable player filling in the void. I also expect Chris Duncan to start driving in some runners eventually in his time at first. That being said, I don't think the slack will be "picked up" if you will. The Cardinals offense probably isn't going to be as good while Albert's on the DL. Period.
DC: Fortunately, Pujols is aiming to get back within a couple weeks so the pressure for the other players to step up isn't as urgent. However, Ryan Ludwick continues to show he's a natural clean-up hitter with the hitting clinic he has been putting on this year. With the rebirth of Troy Glaus, even Ludwick has protection in the lineup. Rick Ankiel still has been contributing despite having cooled off. However, he's still a power threat. Skip Schumaker has turned into a natural lead-off hitter and has the prowess of a cat.
Question 2: Everyone is campaigning for Todd Wellemeyer for the All-Star Game, but Kyle Lohse is having a great year. Any consideration for Lohse?
BW: Kyle Lohse has been the rock that has kept the Cardinals' pitching staff on track with all these injuries. At 8-2, with a 3.77 ERA, Lohse should definitely get some votes for the All-Star Game. That said, he probably isn't going to get the nod unless he gets three wins before the break.
JL: Talk about a "who's who" list of who are these guys...Wellemeyer is definitely having an all-star start to the season with a 7-2 record and a 3.67 ERA. But Lohse has been just as steady and is providing a little veteran leadership on the mound. With an 8-2 record and a 3.77 ERA, Lohse certainly belongs in the all-star category. He's had to be the rock with so many injuries on the pitching staff.
The only issue with an all-star appearance is the fact that so many surprise pitchers are having a great first half such as Edison Volquez and Tim Lincecum.
PF: Before Wellemeyer's ERA ballooned almost a run after the Philly disaster, he'd be in over Kyle Lohse because of a superior ERA and strikeout numbers. But now, the two are headed in completely different directions. Wellemeyer definitely isn't 100%, while Lohse is on fire. If Lohse can win ten or eleven games before the break, I think he's in. Barring a miracle, Wellemeyer probably won't pitch well enough to earn a slot.
DC: Kyle Lohse's numbers compare favorably with Wellemeyer's. They both only have two losses, with Lohse having one more win. His ERA is slightly higher, but only by a little. The only difference I see between the two pitchers is that Wellemeyer is more of a strikeout machine. Wellemeyer might be getting the attention (and eventually the All-Star nod) but Lohse should be getting some votes as well.
Question 3: After their series with the Phillies, the Cardinals will play 12 straight games against AL teams. What is your prediction for the Cardinals over this stretch?
BW: As always, the set with the Boston Red Sox will be very difficult. I could see us squeaking out a game, however. As far as the two series against Kansas City go, we should win four of those contests. We also have the up-and-down Detroit Tigers, which have either played excellent or abysmal. That said, one from the Red Sox, four against KC, and two against the Tigers will get us to 7-5 during that stretch. It would be pretty extremely unlikely that the Cardinals win eight or more of those games, but that's why we play the game.
JL: After playing the Phillies, the Cards then host the Kansas City Royals for three. Ouch, after that they go on the road for three at Boston, three at Detroit and then three at Kansas City. I see them taking two of three at home against the Royals, but losing all three against the Red Sox.
At Detroit they can take two of three and two of three at Kansas City. To sum it up I hope they win more games but I see them going 6-6 against the AL. Their only hope during this stretch is that the Cubs go 6-6 as well.
PF: After all the injuries this week, I'm going 6-6, and that might be generous. The Birds play nine of the 12 on the road, and Boston and Detroit aren't easy places to play. In their only home series of those 12 games, the Royals are pitching Zack Grienke and Brian Bannister, who should wreak havoc on a weakened Cardinals offense.
DC: Fortunately, two of those AL series are against the Kansas City Royals so that does play in our favor. However, the Royals have shown they can still play spoiler despite their record. They have great, young talent in guys like Billy Butler, David DeJesus, Alex Gordon, etc.
Prediction against the Royals: 4-2
The Boston series is the one I'm most concerned about because they're playing excellent baseball. I still remember the sweep in 2004 in which we had one of the most ridiculous offenses on the planet and still managed not to win a single game in the big one. Manny and company are really tough to beat.
Prediction against the Red Sox: 1-2
The Detroit Tigers are all over the map this year. I believe the Cardinals can get a sweep here and kick a "tiger" while it's down.
Prediction against the Tigers: 3-0
Send us your thoughts!