Cardinals Final Stretch To Make A Postseason NL Wild Card Berth

By Beth Chapman
Sep. 26, 2016

Jaime Garcia is back in the Cardinals rotation to begin the four game series against the Cincinnati Reds.
Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

During the course of this second half of the season, the St. Louis Cardinals have had the luxury of the "Next Man Up" on the mound. With injury to Michael Wacha, rookie Luke Weaver was called from Memphis Triple-A  to replace him in the rotation. Rookie Alex Reyes was brought up at the same time, initially placed in the bullpen. Mike Leake went to the DL, Reyes was brought from long relief to a starter role. Leake returned, Reyes back to the bullpen. Jaime Garcia, struggling in his starts, replaced by Reyes who has proved worthy to remain in the five man rotation. 

However, as strong as Weaver began his major league career, he has learned facing the major hitters can be hard work and a bit more refinement is needed. Therefore, being a solid arm for the Cardinals, Weaver's next appearance will be in a relief role. 

LHP Jaime Garcia followed Weaver against the Colorado Rockies who held a 6-1 lead after Weaver's short 2 IP. He went four one-hit innings with five strikeouts. No earned runs allowed, no walks issued. The Garcia Cardinals fans were accustom to seeing on the mound in past starts and earned his way back into the rotation. He will replace Weaver and make the start against the Cincinnati Reds beginning the Cardinals four game series at home. At best, this second half, the Cardinals have seen 'musical chairs' in their rotation. With the return of J Garcia, this does give the Cardinals their left-handed pitcher back in the rotation. 

This is the final stretch of the MLB 2016 season. Seven games remain, and the Cardinals will play their final games at Busch Stadium. They return home after a 5-5 road trip. Home may be where the heart is; but, the Cardinals have done far better on the road this season (48-33) compared to their home record (33-41). There has been no viable reason regarding their performance at home this season; nor, at this juncture, does that record really matter, in my opinion. What is important is how they re-group after losing the series this weekend to the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Will they be able to perform their all time best on their home turf these next seven games? 

The Cardinals postseason sights are on the second spot in the MLB NL Wild Card race, as it has been for the past month. They have been sitting in the third spot, working their way to a three-way tie with the New York Mets and the San Francisco Giants while on their recent road trip. Now, with their collective road losses, the three-knot tie has unraveled. Mets sit in first, one game ahead of the Giants; and, 1 1/2 game ahead the Cardinals. The Cardinals definitely have the talent to achieve a Wild Card berth; but, will that be hampered by playing at home. The Cardinals have not seen such a home record since 1999. 

TONIGHT GAME ONE ~ CARDINALS HOSTING THE CINCINNATI REDS IN FOUR GAME SERIES

Cardinals LHP Jaime Garcia (10-12/4.59 ERA) will face Reds rookie Tim Adleman (2-4/4.06 ERA). Cardinals have faced Adleman once before at Great American Ball Park, September 4. He gave up 2 HR/3 ER on four hits, only issued one walk with six strikeouts for his five innings pitched. He was handed his third season loss in the Cardinals 5-2 win. He is 0-2 on the road holding a 3.68 ERA. 

 J Garcia is not new to the Reds. He is 1-1 in 18.2 IP giving up 3 HR/9 ER/6-BB and has had 15 strikeouts facing the Reds. At home this season, he is 6-8/4.30 ERA. The last he faced them, August 10, he went 8 IP/1 HR/2 ER in the Cardinals 3-2 win. Since that point, he began his downhill slide. Save his last game pitched in relief (0.00 ERA), he closed his August with a 5.06 ERA; and, in September, he holds a 5.71 ERA. Will the rest that J Garcia has had, will it be enough for him to continue with a very solid stand tonight against the Reds. First pitch is at 7:15 CST.   

FINAL GOOD-BYES TO MIAMI MARLINS JOSE FERNANDEZ

News shocked the whole of the MLB; and, fans alike, with the news of 24 year old Miami Marlins starter, Jose Fernandez, yesterday morning. Killed in a boating accident off the shore of Miami. Cardinals rookie Aledmys Diaz and Fernandez were life friends growing up together in their native country, Cuba. Both making their way to the United States through trials and tribulations few baseball players are familiar with. Diaz was not one who made a statement to the press yesterday. Fernandez death was too close to his heart and he wanted to keep his feelings private to mourn his friend in his own way. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Fernandez family, the Marlins teammates and organization, for such a great loss. I especially send prayers to Aledmys Diaz to have strength to see him through this very sad time.   

[Broadcast on Fernandez, Diaz]

The Marlins cancelled their game yesterday against the Atlanta Braves in deep respect for their fallen teammate. Fernandez, also, was to make the start in yesterday's game. Rest in peace, Jose Fernandez.