Ummm… I forgot to include one more series sweep in my last post. The Cardinals completed a three-game sweep of the Cubs with a shutout victory at Busch Stadium yesterday (thanks to @Matt__Bush for pointing out that error). Much to my chagrin, I also forgot that the Orioles and Indians play again today (as CaptainSteveRodgers reminded me) to wrap up their “weekend” series. So while it’s still technically seven sweeps, I still get an E, two really.
The Cardinals trail the NL Central division leading Reds and the Pirates by five games in the loss column, but they look poised to make another playoff push. The Reds have to deal with the loss of MVP candidate Joey Votto for the next two-to-three weeks as he recovers from surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. Pitching has carried the Pirates all season, but only one other NL team, the Astros, has struck out more and has a lower on-base percentage. Meanwhile, the Cardinals lead the NL in runs scored, batting average and OPS, and their starting pitching has allowed the second fewest runs in the NL despite Adam Wainwright’s struggles to return to form following Tommy John surgery and the loss of Chris Carpenter for the season.
A trade before July 31 could be the difference maker in this division. The Reds may weather the storm until Votto’s return, but would likely welcome an upgrade over Drew Stubbs (.217/.288/.356) in center. The Pirates need an impact bat and would love to pry Justin Upton away from the Diamondbacks who are dangling him in trade discussions. The Cardinals may get reinforcement from within as pitcher Jaime Garcia could return from the 60-day disabled list sometime in mid-August. Should Cole Hamels and/or Zack Greinke become available in the trade market though, look for the Cardinals to be a player in those talks.
Photo by Jeff Curry, US PRESSWIRE