By Jeremy Clements
(St. Louis, Mo) The weather is starting to heat up as the first day of summer approaches. Division races are starting to take shape and with the All-Star Break less than a month away its the right time to see what lies ahead for the Cardinals and what fans should expect to get from the starting rotation from July 1st through the end of the regular season.
On July 1st the Cardinals will have 80 games left to play. Half of those games are against teams who are currently at or below .500. ESPN’s RPI says the Cards have the 2nd easiest schedule this year. Sounds a lot like last season doesn’t it?
On July 1st, 2010 the Cardinals found themselves 1.5 games out of first place, but when dust settled the Cards found themselves watching the playoffs from their homes despite most “experts” saying the Cards had the easiest second half schedule in baseball.
I believe that you can look at stats from previous years and to formulate your expectations. From July 1st through the end of last season the members of the current Cardinals starting rotation combined to go 20-22 in 466 innings of work (51 starts and 36 relief appearances). That statistic reveals that the starting rotation didn’t factor in the decision in nearly half of the games from July-October last season.
Despite the bullpen issues this year I still believe are a few reasons to be optimistic. First the combined career records of the pitchers currently in the rotation is 177-148 from July through September. Going a step further Chris Carpenter has been pitching well and historically July is the month he pitches his best. If he can return to form and Jake Westbrook, Jaime Garica and Kyle Lohse continue their hot starts to the season the Cardinals rotation could be one of the best in baseball.
The Cardinals starting pitchers just have to keep looking forward and continue to improve with every start. This much is for certain though. If the Cards want to be taken seriously, they will need more than just .500 pitching from Jake Westbrook and Kyle Loshe, Chris Carpenter will have to return to form and Jaime Garcia will have to remain consistent.
Can they compete? Without a doubt. Will they? Only time will tell.
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