Young arms help Cards streak to 6 in a row

Like I had said after the Q and A with Cards GM John Mozeliak, he wasn’t going to let a few bad BP arms destroy the Cards 2013 season.  The Cards have plenty of depth in the minors with their #1 ranked farm system and aren’t afraid to use it, and use it early.  When Mo talked about Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha at that time, he was more than confident they could step in and get the job done right away.  After watching Martinez pitch a couple of times against the Brewers after replacing Mitchell Boggs in the BP, we now know why he was tabbed with having the most electric arm in the Cards farm system.

Seth Maness, the Cards 2012 minor league POY, also made his presence known.  Maness pitched in two games over the weekend against the Brewers and got his first win as well as the first win for a Cardinal pitcher that didn’t come from one of the SP’s.  What seemed to be a weakness a week ago is now a strength.  Many may think I’m jumping the gun with that statement, but it’s hard to imagine that opposing hitters are going to get good wood on Martinez with regularity.  Manager Mike Matheny now has innings 7-9 covered with Martinez, Trevor Rosenthal and Edward Mujica.

It will be interesting to see how Maness is used.  He doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but he is a control freak.  In over 250 IP in the minors, he had 18 walks.  He gets weak swings on balls on the corners, and he’ll live or die there.  So far, I like what I see.  Matheny put him in a crucial spot on Saturday and he came through unharmed.

These moves help the club in more than one way.  They also allow Joe Kelly and Fernando Salas to try and work out their issues in situations in which the Cards are way ahead or way behind.  I’m not sure how long the leash will be for either one, but they both still have options and can be shipped down for replacements if need be.  Eric Fornataro or John Gast may be next in line if they continue to struggle.  I’m not sure if Wacha will be used before September, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he was brought up earlier based on needs.

After sweeping 4 games in Milwaukee, the Cards now are tied for the best record in baseball.  The SP’s continue to lead the way.  Adam Wainwright ran into a bit of trouble Saturday, but the BP and offense picked him up.  Right now, the Cards SP’s are easily alone at the top as the best starting staff in the NL.  They have the best ERA at 3.09 and have given up the fewest HR’s at 20.  The Reds have played one more game than the Cards and lead them in K’s by only 11 amongst SP’s.

If case you hadn’t noticed, Jon Jay changed his stance and swing.  After sitting out a few days last week and working with John Mabry, Bengie Molina and Carlos Beltran, Jay looks like a different hitter.  I can’t imagine doing something your entire career, making changes in a few days and then seeing results right away.  Not only is Jay driving the ball, he’s no longer pulling his front leg to first base on every swing.  The helicopter hands are gone.  Thumbs up to Jay and all those who helped with the transition.  Hopefully the results continue to be good ones.

Pete Kozma remains a steady force at shortstop.  It’s not just that he’s had only one error, it’s the range he’s showed to his right.  He may have saved the game in the first inning Saturday with the play he made with bases loaded.  Already down 2-0, the game might have gotten away if not for Kozma’s play.  It’s nice to see the Cards sticking with their 2007 1st round draft pick.  He may never be an AS, but the Cards don’t need him to be.  Steady defense and timely hitting will be good enough.

Regardless of how Jay does with the bat, I’d like to see Matt Carpenter remain the leadoff spot.  Little Carp leads the Cards with a 4.05 P/PA and has no fear of hitting with 2 strikes unlike so many players today.

Matt Adams was set to return on Tuesday.  I haven’t heard if that’s going to be pushed back a few days due to the lack of AB’s from a snowed out game in Arkansas.  When he does return, the Cards can get back to getting Adams in there and giving Beltran, Matt Holliday and Allen Craig a few days off here and there. 

For all the talk about the Cards offense, it was only a matter of time before they broke out.  The offense is the last thing any of us should be worried about, and I don’t understand why it’s a constant source of conversation.  They haven’t all hit full stride yet, but that’s the least of my worries.

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