By Patrick Kelly
With what was a disaster of a few weeks for the St. Louis Cardinals has started to turn around since play has restarted, going 8-6 since they returned to play, including 4-2 in their last six. While Paul Goldschmidt had shown blips of what he can do last year, it seems like he has finally found that stride that Cardinals fans were promised going 6-14 in the last five games before Tuesday night with eight walks. This has trickled down the lineup as Matt Carpenter, who has been in the DH spot, leads the Redbirds with 12 RBI. With the Cardinals unable to play a ton of games before their minor stoppage there were still some pressing questions, mainly with pitching.
Kwang Hyun Kim came into training camp as a relief pitcher, but he and the Cardinals had expressed their interest in seeing what he could do in the rotation. In his first start, Kim went six innings where he only allowed three hits and added three strikeouts and got his first win with the Cardinals. The bullpen has also been extremely impressive, given that they took a hit not having Jordan Hicks this year along with the problems faced by COVID-19. The man who has stepped up most coming out of the pen has been John Gant, who in seven and two/thirds innings pitched has no earned runs and only one hit and two walks.
The biggest reason so far for the Cardinals success is much like the St. Louis Blues: the young guys are starting to take over. Jack Flaherty has been exactly what the Cardinals anticipated he would be this year even though he is not going the full length he can go in games, perhaps wanting to ease him into it. After going 0-4 in his first appearance back, Paul DeJong made sure to make his presence known. With the bases loaded on Monday against the Kansas City Royals, DeJong crushed a double that brought in three runs to give him a big boost since returning. In what has been a trade fans were never 100 percent about, Dexter Fowler has stepped up this year with everyone going down, batting .277 with seven RBI and two dingers.
With several games less played than a lot of the NL, the Cardinals will have more pressure to stay up top in the division in the wild-card race. The Cardinals have a total of eight seven-inning double headers remaining, including Thursday at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Other than that, they have nine single games coming up including finishing off against the Royals Wednesday. The Cardinals are sitting good right now and their small-ball mentality of getting lots of men on base and using the speed a lot of this team has is doing wonders for the club.