The starters need to return to early season form to succeed

3:49 PM, Jun 7, 2012   |    comments
Jaime Garcia (54) pitches against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-US PRESSWIRE
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By Grant Braden

(The Cardinal Nation Show) -- The starting rotation outlook following a World Series victory last October was intended to be nothing short of lethal for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Chris Carpenter had limited high powered offenses and was coming off a solid year, looking to claim the ace position of the staff. Jaime Garcia and Kyle Lohse turned in valuable middle rotation outings turn after turn. Jake Westbrook would help add an undervalued veteran prescense. And Adam Wainwright, who missed the entire 2011 season due to Tommy John surgery, would emerge from his injury and have another spectacular season.

Goodness how things have shifted.

Carpenter started the season on the disabled list, Westbrook and Garcia have not been able to repeat last season's success and Wainwright, though hopefully turning the corner, has the highest ERA of any starter on the team.

The starters do have a combined record of 24-18, however, most of those wins came towards the beginning of the season. In fact, through May 2nd, in games that the starter for the Cards earned the decision, they were 15-5. Things were on cruise control and the team was clicking on all cylinders. The Cardinals were 16-8 and still sitting on top of the Central division.

Lately, though, things seem to be falling apart. From May 26th til now, the Redbirds are 2-5 in games that the starter has earned the decision including outings from Wainwright and Garcia that were confidence killers.

After a rough start this week, Garcia has joined Carpenter on the D.L. He had missed his scheduled start in New York on Friday due to elbow soreness and then could not make it past two innings last night. Who the Cardinals may replace Garcia with is still up in the air. Joe Kelly and Brandon Dickson are two names that have been thrown around.

If there has been one bright spot to the rotation, it has been second-year hurler Lance Lynn. Lynn was called up at about this time last season and saw a majority of his time out of the bullpen. He earned the fifth spot in the rotation coming out of spring training and has impressed. The 25-year old holds an 8-2 record and a 2.63 ERA in the 11 games he has started. Those eight wins put Lynn in a tie for the most in the majors.

The Cardinals need to bear down and get the wins in the weaker parts of the schedule like Houston and the upcoming games against Kansas City. The starters for the Cardinals are always key in winning games, but they will really be essential over the next few weeks to try and turn the tides in St. Louis.

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