During the baseball season all teams will have to fight through various players being injured. Many of these injuries are minor setbacks, but some are proven to be serious injuries. The optimal thing for a baseball team is to avoid is major injuries to their best players, as these are the most difficult injuries to overcome.
If you told a General Manager that he was going to lose his ace, his number three hitter, and his clean-up hitter, I am sure that GM would be suffering some heartburn. Those three spots for a baseball team are some of the most important, if not, the most importation pieces in structuring a team. The ace is the team’s best starting pitcher, who has the best stuff, and the moxie it takes to be an ace pitcher and pitch every fifth day giving your team their best chance to win. The best of these in the league are annually a contender for the Cy Young Award that goes to each league’s best pitcher. The No. 3 hitter is typically the team’s best overall hitter with the ability to hit for power, average, and to drive in runs. The clean-up hitter is your power source to drive in runs, hit the ball over the fence, and put that fear in the opposing pitcher.
For John Mozielak and the St. Louis Cardinals, this nightmare has become a reality. On April 25, the Cardinals likely lost their ace and perennial Cy Young contender, Adam Wainwright, for the season due to an Achilles tendon rupture. Since the injury, the Cardinals have gone 34-19, a .642 win percentage. Approximately one month later on May 26t, the Cardinals clean-up hitter, Matt Adams, tore his quadriceps muscle and is also likely out for the year. Since the Adams injury, the Cardinals have gone 16-8 (.666). On June 8, Matt Holliday injured his quadriceps and was subsequently placed on the DL, and the Cardinals have gone 7-3 (.700) since. Most recently, the Cardinals number two pitcher, Lance Lynn, went on the DL with a forearm strain, but he is expected back this week.
Though injuries are inevitable, the fact that the Cardinals have done so well since losing 3 of their most important core players is remarkable. It speaks to the team’s fortitude and competitive make-up. They have had the next man up attitude, whether it be Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez, Mark Reynolds, Randall Grichuk, or a host of other players, they have continued to win baseball games and sustain their lead (currently at 6 games) in the NL Central.
The big question going forward is whether it is possible to continue this trend despite so many players going down to injury. The return of Lance Lynn and Matt Holliday will definitely help, but additions to the team before the trade deadline almost seem inevitable.
John Mozielak is sure to be scanning the wires for potential trade targets as the July 31 trade deadline approaches to bolster his team for another playoff run.