David Schoenfield (@dschoenfield) recently wrote an article on players to watch in September. The problem I have with such articles is that one player, no matter how good, does not make up a team. I thought I’d go into further detail by listing five players for Cards fans to watch. They’re listed in random order, because all of them may play a key role.
It’s no secret that Waino (who was Schoenfield’s choice for the Cards’ player to watch) has struggled since the all-star break. The key question in my mind is: If he continues to struggle, will he still be used as our number one starter in playoff series, or will Matheny use Lynn or someone else?
Everyone, including myself, had been counting the minutes until Yadi, our on-field manager, made his return. Now that he’s back, will he have any rustiness, or will he continue to be solid offensively? Also, how well will he blend with the two new pitchers, Justin Masterson and John Lackey? Masterson may have been demoted to the bullpen but he’s still on the staff. How effective he is may depend on how well Yadi manages him.
This year has been an adventure for Trevor. He’s been a roller coaster for the Cards’ with extreme highs and extreme lows. Can he settle down for the stretch run, or do we need to consider a different closer for the playoffs, someone like Pat Neshek. Neshek had a rough outing against the Cubs recently but then bounced back with 2 straight scoreless appearances. Or perhaps we should consider Seth Maness or even Carlos Martinez? Trevor’s last save looked promising as he almost had a 1 2 3 inning but Matt Adams made an error that allowed a man to get on.
Jay had a torrid August, hitting .382 with a .474 OBP (!) raising his overall average to .313. Can he keep it up? He’s a career .296 hitter so the skill is there. His defense has improved this year as well, making Peter Bourjos, who was acquired to play a lot of CF, a utility player who is now used primarily as a defensive replacement and pinch runner. Jay, who has 2.5 WAR, is on pace to set a career high in that stat. (His previous best was 2.8 in 2011). Not bad for a guy who many people, myself included, thought would spend the year as nothing more than a bench player.
Wacha is the biggest unknown on this list. When he’s on, like he was at the end of last year, he’s a stud, but he’s been sidelined by injuries this year. Will he be rusty when he starts, or will he pick up where left off? He’s the “other” guy I mentioned when talking about somebody who could take Waino’s place if he continues his downward trend. The key is Wacha getting in as much work as he can once he’s officially back and starting.
I could go on. For example, Daniel Descalso was torrid in August. Can he keep that up? If so, we have a valuable weapon off the bench. Matt Holliday has been on a tear, can he keep it going? etc, etc, etc.
The point here is there’s quite a few players on this team on who the season can turn, not just one. We have a team full of exciting players to watch.
As always, thanks for reading.