That could have been a whole lot better.
That could have been a whole lot worse.
Both things are true as we dig through the rubble of a 2-2 split against a bottom dwelling foe… that somehow vaulted the Cardinals into a first place tie in the NL Central.
First the bad news.
+ The Justin Masterson trade is officially a bust. His ERA with the Cardinals is 7.90 and he’s surrendered 34 hits and 11 walks in 27.1 innings of work. His last three starts, he’s failed to get past the 5th inning and has given up 5 runs in 4 of his 6 starts as a Cardinal. As the calendar turns to September and the roster gets expanded, he can’t continue to start for a team that has playoff aspirations. A low-risk gamble that didn’t pan out.
+ Yes, the Cubs’ young guns aren’t under nearly the pressure to win as the Cardinals’. So it’s not apples to apples. But a middle of an order line-up of Baez, Soler, Rizzo and Bryant (yet to be called up) is shaping up to be even more formidable than the Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Sammy Sosa troika that gave the Cardinals fits in the early to mid aughts. And for much longer, too. Let’s hope the Cubs find a way to Cub this up.
+ Pat Neshek had a rough weekend. Too soon to tell if this was a team that had his number or if the dream season is starting to putter out a la Edward Mujica circa 2013.
Busted up for 4 earned runs on Friday night, Pat took to the mound on Saturday and Sunday as well. While he didn’t surrender any more scoring tally’s, he did give up 2 hits and walk. Again, may have just been a challenging weekend. But we haven’t seen Mr. Neshek face much adversity in 2014 and he’s going to need to be big part of the success of the 2014 Cardinals.
But there were some positives as well…
+ Matt Holliday pretty much put the Cardinals on his back.
+ Yadier Molina returned to the line-up. And while it still looks as if the power stroke is going to take a week or two to return, he was in the middle of the action, figuring out ways to contribute. Anytime you get an all-pro back in the line-up, it’s a net plus for the team, even if he’s not in peak form.
+ It seems like forever ago, but Shelby Miller had one of his best starts this season on Friday night. A solid 7 innings and only giving up 2 runs? I think everyone will take that 10 out of 10 times.
+ And if we’re going to tout the Cubs long game with roster construction, then John Lackey has to be mentioned. That guy is a bulldog. He didn’t have his best stuff on Sunday. And he contributed to his own run line with an error. But he pulled it together, put in 6 1/3 innings, and was pissed when Matheny took him out of the game. He doesn’t have the upside of a Wainwright, Wacha or even Miller. But he gives teams innings and chances to win almost every start (even when he gets touched up early). To have him for $500K in 2015 is criminal.
+ The Brewers are reeling. They got swept by the Giants and are in danger of slipping out of the 1st place for the first time since April. the Cardinals didn’t dominate this past weekend, but they made up ground and improved their odds to make the playoffs. At the end of the weekend, I suppose that’s all that really matters.
Photo: Wellesley Dental