(KMOV.com) -- Considering the July 31st trade deadline is just a couple weeks away, just about everyone is fixated on that market. Who is GM John Mozeliak going to get? What is he going to give up? This is what the Cardinals need. No, that’s what the Cardinals need.
Correctly, much emphasis is being placed on the starting rotation. What once was putting up historic numbers to kick off the 2013 season has since regressed to very ordinary levels. Also correctly, an eye is on the trade market to see what and who might be available to address this stumbling piece of the team.
But there’s another piece that’s getting overlooked here. And it’s arguably just as important as making external additions.
The St. Louis Cardinals need their current crop of starters to simply pitch better. It’s that simple. Adam Wainwright’s been great and I’m sure he’ll continue to be that way. Jake Westbrook has been steady since returning from injury in mid-June. But no one else has even been close to as good as they were in April and May.
Shelby Miller: 5.09 ERA in last seven starts (35.1 innings pitched)
Lance Lynn: 6.21 ERA in last seven starts (42 innings)
And that’s not including the giant black hole the Cardinals have in their fifth spot (Joe Kelly has pitched well when given the chance but it’s crystal clear the team prefers him in the bullpen for this season with as much depth as it has).
Miller and Lynn are completely different cases. On one hand, there’s no track record for Miller at the big league level. He’s never experienced a full major league season before so there’s no frame of reference as far as how he’ll react to the rigors of July, August and September. His stuff is as good as anyone’s in the league, but he’s showing signs of wearing down. If the Cards are going to make a legitimate run at a championship, getting Shelby Miller back on track is beyond imperative. His fastball location has been severely lacking during this recent tough stretch. Considering that’s by far and away his best pitch, it’s tough to get many people out if that’s not there for him.
Then there’s Lance Lynn.
He’s a little bit of a riddle. An All Star a season ago, Lynn wore down in the second half to the point of actually getting demoted briefly to the bullpen (though he did reemerge as a starter later on). Now, that regression we saw in 2012 is happening again. His command is off. He’s subject to big innings. And it appears to affect him in games. Why does this seem to keep happening to him? Well, if he had that answer he’d change it.
But once is an accident. Twice could be a trend.
Maybe, just maybe, Lynn is who we thought he was when he was a prospect out of Ole Miss. The scouting report on him was a back-of-the-rotation innings eater. Well, after a few months of dominance in late 2011 and early 2012 many started to believe that initial label was wrong. So expectations were raised.
Unfortunately, you cannot ignore what he’s done in late 2012 and a huge chunk of 2013 (he did begin strong once again this season, no doubt about it). Maybe it’s time to lower the expectations on Lynn and think he is who we all thought he was as a rising prospect. A back-of-the-rotation innings eater who’ll live in the upper three to lower four ERA range.
Either way, it doesn’t matter if John Mozeliak goes out and trades for Cy Young. He’d help, no question about it. But Adam Wainwright and mystery trade acquisition can’t do it alone. They need help from the guys that are already here. Mozeliak can’t go out and trade for a brand new rotation.
There’s no way around it. The current crop has to pitch better.