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MLB St Louis Cardinals

St. Louis Cardinals: Bad Outings of Justin Masterson and John Lackey Could Bring Team Down

John Lackey Cardinals

Joy R. Absalon — USA TODAY Sports

I don’t usually flip-flop when I write a column talking about something being a benefit for a team, especially the St. Louis Cardinals. That said, if there is a panic button around, it may be time to push it. Or is it? Look at the full story here.

On the heels of Justin Masterson‘s bad outing Friday against the Baltimore Orioles, John Lackey imploded Saturday to the tune of nine earned runs. Think about it. Masterson and Lackey had bad outings.

Keep in mind the Orioles are in first place in the American League East, so this team isn’t a cream puff. And these are the two pitchers the Cardinals acquired to bolster their pitching staff.

One game isn’t going to tell the full story, but if this is the Lackey the Cardinals are going to get, then what’s next?

It is no secret the Cardinals need a healthy and effective Masterson and Lackey to join Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller to form a rotation that will hopefully get the Cardinals to postseason play. The Cardinals are still in the thick of things in the National League Central, but the Pittsburgh Pirates and Milwaukee Brewers are not going away any time soon.

Yes, you read right. The Pirates, even without Andrew McCutchen, are not going away.

Cardinals fans are doing their fair share of hand-wringing right about now. Why is this happening, people ask. Lackey looked so good against the Brewers. What Lackey are we going to get?

Lackey has had little luck against Baltimore, having given up six earned runs in an April outing against the Orioles while he was a member of the Boston Red Sox. Based on that track record, maybe fans should have seen this game coming.

But that game was in April. This was in August, in the middle of a heated pennant race.

Cardinals fans have been here before. They know the ins and outs of pennant races. But even some fans are admitting it might be time to panic, especially if Lackey and Masterson aren’t the answers everyone hoped.

If that’s the case, the Cardinals may be in trouble.