St. Louis Cardinals: 5 Players Who Need To Step Up in August

St. Louis Cardinals: 5 Players Who Need To Step Up in August

St. Louis Cardinals
Jeff Curry -- USA TODAY Sports

We are getting to the dog days of summer, and the St. Louis Cardinals are within striking distance of the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central. What do the Cardinals have to do to stay in the hunt? Here are five players who must play better in the coming weeks.

5. Peter Bourjos

Peter Bourjos Cardinals
Jake Roth -- USA TODAY Sports

5. Peter Bourjos

Peter Bourjos Cardinals
Jake Roth -- USA TODAY Sports

Bourjos has been a disappointment in his first season in the NL, as he had a .219 average and .284 OBP entering Wednesday. Bourjos didn't have much pop with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, but it was hoped he would carry enough weight with the bat to take some pressure off the regulars.

4. Oscar Taveras

Oscar Taveras Cardinals
Jeff Curry -- USA TODAY Sports

4. Oscar Taveras

Oscar Taveras Cardinals
Jeff Curry -- USA TODAY Sports

Taveras started showing signs of improvement at the plate almost as soon as Allen Craig was traded away. The longtime top prospect has hits in seven of his last eight games, which belies his paltry .221 BA on the season.

3. Mark Ellis

Mark Ellis Cardinals
Matt Marton -- USA TODAY Sports

3. Mark Ellis

Mark Ellis Cardinals
Matt Marton -- USA TODAY Sports

Originally, it was thought Ellis would be there to guide Kolten Wong, but no one expected Ellis' bat to go south. His paltry .190 average suggests that he may not be long for the Cardinals now that Wong has started to prove he can hit and run the bases.

2. Justin Masterson

Justin Masterson Cardinals
Jeff Curry -- USA TODAY Sports

2. Justin Masterson

Justin Masterson Cardinals
Jeff Curry -- USA TODAY Sports

Masterson has no pressure to produce immediate results as the ace, since Adam Wainwright owns that distinction. However, after one poor start with the Cardinals, Masterson will have to improve a great deal to give St. Louis some power pitching down the stretch.

1. Carlos Martinez

Carlos Martinez Cardinals
Jeff Curry -- USA TODAY Sports

1. Carlos Martinez

Carlos Martinez Cardinals
Jeff Curry -- USA TODAY Sports

Martinez is currently playing in Memphis, but he will be back soon. The Cards sent Martinez down because they needed a roster spot for Justin Masterson. Other pitchers have fared worse than Martinez, who carries a 2-4 record and 4.74 ERA. The Cardinals can't decide whether they want Martinez to relieve or lengthen his arm as a starter, but Masterson and John Lackey's acquisitions should take some pressure off.

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