Washington Nationals Analysis: Second Half Preview

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Jun 28, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Trevor Rosenthal (44) celebrates with catcher Yadier Molina (4) after defeating the Chicago Cubs at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Cubs 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

St. Louis Cardinals

The St. Louis Cardinals (56-33) may hold baseball’s best record for now, but that title could be on its way over to Pittsburgh. The NL Central Division winner of each of the past three seasons, St. Louis has become accustomed to its team’s winning ways. However, after dropping three of four to the Pirates and nine of their last fourteen, the power in the NL may be shifting in another direction.

The Cardinals pitching staff lost Adam Wainwright for the year at the beginning of the season to an Achilles injury, and many thought losing the ace would be too much for the rotation to overcome. What has actually happened could not be more different. John Lackey (7-5, 2.99), Michael Wacha (10-3, 2.93), Carlos Martinez (10-3, 2.52), Lance Lynn (6-5, 2.90), and Jaime Garcia (3-3, 1.69) have been the best rotation in all of baseball, with each of them sporting an ERA under three. With Garcia hitting the Disabled List with a left groin injury, Tim Cooney (0-0, 4.34) is likely to fill in until his return.

The Cardinals’ lineup has never been known to put up stellar numbers, and this year has been no different. Second baseman and All-Star snub Kolten Wong (.280/.343/.434) has put together a solid eason in his second year in the majors. Matt Holliday (.303/.417/.421) looks to be returning off the Disabled List soon after straining his quad in June and should provide an immediate boost for the offense.

The Cards took two of three against the Nats in their first meeting this season back in April, although Washington’s one win was on a walk-off home run by Yunel Escobar in the 10th inning on April 21. They meet again August 31st-September 2nd at Busch Stadium, when both teams expect to be back to full health. This could be a potential playoff preview, and should prove to be a good series.

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