(Baseball StL) -- The Cardinals are coming off a very disappointing road trip. They only won one of five games against Cincinnati and Milwaukee, and could have won all six of them with a timely hit here or there. The Cards are now closer to 4th place than to 1st, but it's way too early to panic.
There have actually been some encouraging signs during this recent slump. The starting pitching has been very good lately. Rookie Joe Kelly has been a pleasant surprise. Kyle Lohse and Lance Lynn are both on track to have career years.
Jake Westbrook has been solid in his last few starts. Adam Wainwright has 10 losses, but several of those are due to poor run support. He certainly deserved a better fate Wednesday in the loss to the Brewers. Wainwright struck out nine and didn't walk anybody and allowed only four hits. If not for some shaky defense, he might have shut out Milwaukee.
The bullpen has been much improved in recent games as well. Barret Browning has been an effective lefty specialist, and now Trevor Rosenthal brings his upper 90's fastball to the mix. There doesn't seem to be the urgent need to make a trade for a pitcher that there was a few weeks ago.
The Cards are having trouble scoring runs yet still lead the National League in runs scored and batting average. They've struggled to hit with runners in scoring position, but that's something that comes and goes over the course of a season. It's only a matter of time before the big boys get it going again.
Carlos Beltran has been quiet lately. Lance Berkman isn't 100 percent yet. Those two have the track record to suggest they'll find their groove soon and give the Cardinals more punch in the middle of the line-up.
The last couple of months haven't been pretty. The Cardinals have one of the worst records in the National League since the middle of May. But that will change. Hopefully starting this weekend against the Cubs. What better team to get healthy against, right?
The Cardinals simply have too much talent to continue to struggle as they have in recent weeks. The good news is they've played rather poorly for two months but are still only 4 1/2 games out of first. The Reds have lost Joey Votto for a month, and the Pirates...well, they're the Pirates. The laws of physics say the Pirates will fall in the standings when the pennant race heats up. Keep the faith. The Cardinals are still the best team in the division.