Cardinals starting rotation needs helps after the All Star break

The St. Louis Cardinals have quietly climbed back into first place in the National League Central by 1 ½ games over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Cardinals own the best record in the majors at 55-34 heading into the last weekend before the All Star break. The Cardinals have won 5 straight and 7 of their past 10 overall.

Nevertheless, critics of the Cardinals pitching staff, which at one point was considered the best in the league earlier this season, say they no longer have the depth in the starting rotation they once had.

Chris Carpenter has started his Double-A rehab assignment, which should have him back with the club sometime during August, which is positive news for the struggling starting rotation.

The Cardinals have started to shop around for another veteran to help the team during the second half.

That became even more evident after Shelby Miller suffered through another difficult start on Wednesday.

The Cardinals won the game 5-4 against a Houston team amidst a rebuilding process, but Miller was far being sharp. Miller was constantly behind on hitters, walked five batters and was in danger nearly every inning he pitched.

Miller need to throw 94 pitches just to get through 5 innings and only 56 of his 94 pitches were for strikes.

Manager Mike Matheny has realigned the Cardinals starting rotation so Miller can get additional rest at the break. He will be sitting out now until after the break and will work on some pitching techniques.

The Cardinals No. 5 slot in the rotation is also up in the air. Joe Kelly might be the pitcher to fill it for a stretch. He has a strong arm and a positive attitude, but his control is not what it should be sometimes so he could cause headaches for Matheny and his coaches.

Jake Westbrook has been inconsistent since coming off the disabled list, recording an ERA of 4.34 over that period. It remains to be seen if his elbow can hold up and if he regains his early season form again.

Top prospects like Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez will most likely help during periods of the second half of the season, but will face challenges similar to Miller, being first year pitchers.

With the starting rotation not pitching as well as they did earlier in the season, the bullpen has logged a number of innings and late inning relievers like Edward Mujica and Trevor Rosenthal are being used extensively of late.

St. Louis has time to fix this problem and if it were extremely bad they would not be 21 games over .500 and in first place, but the regular season is a difficult stretch of 162 games and the playoffs is even more so.

With Adam Wainwright, they have their number one pitcher and a candidate for the Cy Young award. In Lance Lynn, they have a solid starter for the middle of their rotation, but beyond that, things at this point are shaky.

Therefore, it is important Carpenter rehabs and come back 100% and that the Cardinals shop for a talented veteran starter to help them in their second half stretch run for the postseason.

 

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