As baseball observers know, divisions are won in September. Great teams are built for the final month of the season, and also-rans fall off in September. In general…not always, but most of the time…the Cardinals have been strong in September.
Last year, they were 13-13 in September, and of course lost in the first round of the playoffs. The ’08 team never had a chance. In ’07, the Cardinals were two games out on September 1. Then J.D. Drew faced HGH allegations, the team faded by losing 14-of-15, and wound up a deceiving seven games out.
The Cardinal teams that went to the NLCS this decade had the following Septembers: 2000 (19-9), 2002 (21-6), 2004 (16-12), 2005 (13-13), and 2006 (12-16) a freakish post-season, to be sure.
Is the 2010 edition of the Cardinals currently set up to rumble down the stretch? With Brad Penny, Kyle Lohse, Jason Motte and David Freese hurt, they’ll have some difficulty. The absence of Penny and Lohse has caught up with the bullpen, which Tony LaRussa referred to as “on fumes” this week.
Not only have those injuries hamstrung the bullpen, but they also forced the Cardinals to trade one of their best offensive weapons in Ryan Ludwick. His departure is added to less than stellar seasons by Skip Schumaker, Brendan Ryan, Yadier Molina and, since the All-Star break, Colby Rasmus.
This team still has some sensational talent in Pujols, Holliday, Wainwright and Carpenter, plus Ryan Franklin in the bullpen. Unfortunately, that’s not enough. Because of injury, this Cardinal team isn’t set up to have a great September. That’s the way it appears to me, unfortunately. I don’t think they can hang with a healthy Cincinnati to the finish line in 2010.