5 Things we learned from the 4-game set with the Diamondbacks - KMOV.com

5 Things we learned from the 4-game set with the Diamondbacks

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ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 5: Starter Wade Miley #36 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on June 5, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) By Dilip Vishwanat ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 5: Starter Wade Miley #36 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on June 5, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) By Dilip Vishwanat
ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 5: Starter Wade Miley #36 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on June 5, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) By Dilip Vishwanat ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 5: Starter Wade Miley #36 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on June 5, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) By Dilip Vishwanat
ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 5: Starter Joe Kelly #58 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Busch Stadium on June 5, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) By Dilip Vishwanat ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 5: Starter Joe Kelly #58 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Busch Stadium on June 5, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) By Dilip Vishwanat

(Baseball StL) -- There’s an old saying in baseball (there’s a lot of old sayings in baseball) “You’re never as bad as you look when you’re losing and you’re never as good as you think you are when you’re winning.”

The Cardinals proved both of those this week in one four-game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Monday and Thursday, the Redbirds looked like the rest of the league was just playing for second place while Tuesday and Wednesday they made us envy the Marlins. You could say that’s the way it goes over a long season, but the smarter analysis is that we learned some things about our club that cannot be ignored.

Until you play good teams, weaknesses are not exposed. So, let’s take a clinical look at five things we learned from the four-game set with the D-backs.

1). Our young pitchers are very good, but Cooperstown isn’t getting a spot ready for any of them – yet.  These guys are 21-22 years old, barely old enough to drink legally with the curse of potential and expectations. They are not mature, seasoned or experienced and they will struggle, just like anyone else. More important will be how Mike Matheny handles them, how the rest of the team reacts when they struggle and how well they handle failure. Matheny has run them out there just like he would any 10-year veteran which is exactly what he has to do. But adrenaline can only last so long and when they struggle, the two most important things are a quick hook and quick chance at redemption.

2). Matt Holliday hits a baseball harder than anyone in the major leagues.  That has been established. And when he is steaming around third and heading home for a play at the plate, there isn’t a catcher in baseball who wouldn’t need Depends. But with all respect to him, the Cardinals cannot have him on the field in late innings of a close game. The fly ball he bungled Wednesday in what was then a close game is just the latest folly in a series of them, starting with the dropped fly ball in the 3-2 loss against the LA Dodgers in the play-offs a few years ago. In tight games late, Matt needs to have a seat.

3).  We have been spoiled by the way we hit with runners in scoring position and we have to accept that it can’t last all year.  We could have – should have – won the extra inning game Tuesday several times but could not get a guy home from third. Hitting .330 with runners in scoring position is video game stuff. That’s why we could use a few more taters now and again.

4). Joe Kelly can, should and will start, not relieve. I said in an earlier piece that Kelly is a thoroughbred pulling a plow as a reliever. A starter goes about his business differently. He finds his stuff, reads the hitters, gets to know the umpire, all as the game goes along.  A short reliever cannot do that. Kelly is not a reliever and proved he has value as a starter, either with the Cardinals or with another club.

5). As refreshing as the seemingly endless stream of talented young pitchers has been, we need some stability in the bullpen. Matheny can’t keep running out 21-year-old kids all season long. Together they are one of the finest collections of young talent ever assembled on one major league team. But relievers come in when the game is on the line and therefore must be steady and reliable. The Cards had a 12-2 lead Thursday that turned into a 12-8 adventure with the tying run on deck because the youngsters lost their mojo. It’s a good thing the Tums factory is across the street from Busch Stadium.

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