In a year in which the Cardinals are currently in 3rd place in the Central Division and 2.5 games out of a wild card spot, most Cardinals fans have essentially given up on the season as the postseason chances are slim to none. Considered a down year by most fans, the Cardinals could’ve had it a lot worse and it is quite impressive that they made it this far into the hunt. The Cardinals have been spoiled with winning seasons throughout their illustrious history and the motto “The Cardinal Way” isn’t for no reason. While being in one of Major League Baseball’s smaller markets, the Cardinals have always seemed to develop and grow talented youth and sign the right players. Thus creating the baseball culture in St. Louis that we see today, but after ending 1 game out of postseason action one year ago and this season looking more and more likely the Cardinals will miss the playoffs again fans are getting upset. It’s understandable for the fans to be frustrated considering two non-postseason years in a row is a rare sight in St. Louis but lets not forget how this season started.
Featuring a projected 2017 lineup that had its 1-6 as Fowler, Carpenter, Diaz, Piscotty, Peralta, Molina. Fowler was injured for a majority of the year and has spent most of his time with the club batting 3, 4, or 5, spots he had not previously been accustomed to hitting in. Carpenter has also dealt with injuries and was moved back into his lead off spot and has been having a very sub par year as far as batting average is considered. Diaz spent most of the season in Triple-A Memphis and is getting another shot with September call ups, although his chance might be short lived and his time with the Cardinals may be numbered. Piscotty, while dealing with off the field issues, just simply isn’t producing. After his extension the Cardinals foresaw him as the everyday right fielder hitting either 2nd, 3rd, or 4th, while sporting a high average and the ability to hit upwards of 20 bombs. Not to mention Peralta who apparently lost the ability to hit baseballs and was released early in the year. Then we have Molina, a 35 year old catcher at the ladder part of his career who was pushed into the heart of the order and with his career high 82 RBI’s has carried the Cardinals as far as run producing this year, not to mention playing gold glove defense and grinding out the 2017 year as the everyday catcher. Considering all of the injuries, all the disappointing performances and the unlikely heroes of Tommy Pham and Paul DeJong who along with Molina and the late spurt from Jose Martinez sparked the Cardinals offense. On to the rotations which started out with Martinez, Wainwright, Lynn, Wacha, and Leake. Martinez has had a down year, Wainwright has a 5 ERA and has been injured, Lynn has been the teams most consistent starter, Wacha has been up and down, and Leake who isn’t even on the roster anymore. Those issues have led to the emergence of rookie phenom Luke Weaver, who will inevitably have a spot in the 2018 rotation, and constant spot starts from the likes of 21 year old Jack Flaherty and John Gant. That isn’t even the worst of the pitching, the bullpen has been statistically one of the worst in the game and has continued to choke in big moments and have dragged this team down for so long. There were seemingly no promising signs from the pen as Miguel Socolovich and Johnathan Broxton were both released from the time and almost every reliever was having a bad year. One positive was Trevor Rosenthal returning to form as the closer and then next thing you know here comes Tommy John. It has since settled down but is nowhere near good and the addition of Juan Nicasio and emergence of Tyler Lyons were too little too late. From a Cardinals team that for the most part has lacked energy, failed to come up big in the important moments and whose rotation and bullpen STILL haven’t been figured out, this year should have a positive outlook to it considering all of that and are still mathematically in the race for the wild card. Especially with the flexibility Mo and Girsch have as far as free agents go, the 2017 Cards should be looked at as a building block to the new exciting prospects they have in the system, and the new opportunities they will have next year. I think I am speaking for myself and the majority of fans when I say, yes we had a frustrating year, but at the same time 2018 has a chance to be a special year for the Cardinals.