The St. Louis Cardinals enter the week in first place in the National League Central, but you have to wonder how much longer they can pace the rest of the division.
The defending World Series champions were dealt another big blow over the weekend, losing Lance Berkman to a knee injury. The severity of the injury is still unknown, but Big Puma has said if it’s a torn ACL, he’ll call it a career. The results of his MRI will be revealed at some point today.
It appears the Cardinals will turn to 23-year-old Matt Adams to take over at first base. The 6-foot 3-inch, 230-pound former 23rd round pick smashed 32 home runs and had 101 RBI in just 115 games at Double-A in 2011. He already had nine home runs at Triple-A at the time of his call-up.
The Cardinals lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-5 last night, dropping their fourth-straight game and have now lost eight of their last 10 contests. St. Louis now leads the Cincinnati Reds by just a half game.
The Cards have been overcoming injuries all year, starting with ace Chris Carpenter going down with mysterious nerve irritation in his pitching shoulder. Carpenter won’t even start a throwing program until mid-June.
Lance Lynn has stepped into Carpenter’s spot in the rotation and has an NL-leading six wins to go with a 2.31 ERA. The Cardinals have to play it safe with Lynn, however, as the 25-year-old threw just 120 2/3 innings between Triple-A, the majors and the postseason last year.
Allen Craig has been the team’s ace in the hole, and would have been a fine options to replace Berkman, except he’s on the disabled list. Craig, who also started the year on the DL, has plaed in just 13 games this season, but has five home runs, 19 RBI and a 1.188 OPS.
St. Louis is also without Jon Jay, who is out with a shoulder injury he had been playing through for about a month, meaning 35-year-old Carlos Beltran has shifted from right to center field. Beltran missed a few games with a sore right knee last week, so the last thing he needs is to be playing a more demanding position. With Berkman out, the Cardinals need to make keeping Beltran healthy among their top priorities.
A three-game series at home against the San Diego Padres could be just what the doctor ordered for the beat up and slumping Cardinals. The Padres are the worst team in the NL and have a 4-10 road record. Jaime Garcia (3-2, 3.68) will hope to break the team’s losing streak against Clayton Richard (2-5, 4.94) tonight.