Cleat Geeks

Into the Cardinals Nest: Who Showed the Most Promise in the First Half of 2016?

The Cardinals finished the first half of the season in convincing fashion by winning against the Milwaukee Brewers 5-1 on Sunday. They sit in second place in the NL Central with a 46-42 record. The Chicago Cubs have a 7 game lead on the Cards but if they can get more momentum going into the second half of the season, a division win is still very possible. The Cardinals are a resilient team that proves difficult to beat year after year, that it would be foolish to count them out. Even though they have struggled this year, there are many players that have helped to keep this team in the division race.

Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire

Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire

The bullpen is one of the most important parts of any team and they can make or break a team’s chances of winning any game. The Cardinals have a capable bullpen but they have had difficulty keeping the late innings scoreless in the past. Lately they are getting a little more help in the ninth inning with Seung Hwan Oh replacing the shaky Trevor Rosenthal in the closer role. So far, this switch has paid off with Oh managing to save 2 out of 3 games. On top of that he has recorded 59 strikeouts in 2016 and he’s one of the toughest pitchers to solve. While the bullpen still needs a few more pieces to make it tougher and give the Cards more breathing room in tight games, Oh’s transition to the closer role should help the Cards win more games and let Cardinal fans breathe a bit easier during the 9th inning for a while.

 Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI

Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI

On the offensive side of things, the Cardinals have shown off some serious power in the first half. Matt Carpenter is a large part of this power. He has 14 home runs and 53 RBI’s and he is a very difficult man for opposing pitchers to get out. He did so well during the first half of the season that he made his way on to the 2016 NL All-Star squad. Unfortunately, he tore his oblique, leaving him unable to play. Regardless, Carpenter’s at bats were very productive during the first half of the season and once he gets back, hopefully he can pick up where he left off. Aledmys Diaz will be taking Carpenter’s place as an All-Star and he has done very well in his own right. He has accumulated 13 home runs, 48 RBI’s, and he has even shown off some speed by stealing 3 bases in 2016. While his defense needs a little more fine-tuning, he will play a big role in the rest of the Cardinals season as one of their best offensive weapons if he keeps his current pace up.

The Cardinals are 7 games behind in the division race. It is a tough lead to come back from but this team still has time left to catch up after the break. Carpenter, Diaz and Oh, have all stepped up to help their team win many a game. The Cards ended the first half of the season on a strong note. If the team can keep their momentum going into the second half of the season, they can make  a deep postseason run and potentially go to  the World Series itself.

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