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PostPosted: May 11 19, 11:29 pm 
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PostPosted: May 11 19, 11:29 pm 
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PostPosted: May 11 19, 11:30 pm 
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PostPosted: May 11 19, 11:30 pm 
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PostPosted: May 11 19, 11:34 pm 
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The Cardinals stumbled toward the quarter pole of the 2019 season, reaching it on Saturday with a second consecutive 2-1 loss to the Pirates at Busch Stadium.

Big picture, however, the Cardinals reached the 40-game mark having proven themselves a legitimate postseason contender. They’ve spent 14 days atop the National League Central, and, at 22-18, sit on pace for an 89-season. They haven’t won that many games in a season since 2015.

So with a quarter of the Cardinals’ season now in the rearview mirror, here is a look at five things we’ve learned about this club:

Paul DeJong could be a legitimate MVP candidate

As he did on Friday, the Cardinals’ shortstop drove in the Cardinals’ lone run in Saturday’s defeat. His RBI double with two out in the third scored Paul Goldschmidt and gave DeJong 15 doubles this year. That rates as most among NL players.

Over the first six-plus weeks of the season, DeJong has proven to be an ideal fit as the team’s three-hole hitter. He ranks among the NL’s top four in batting average, hits, runs, doubles and extra-base hits. DeJong has reached base safely in his last 25 starts.

To complement the torrid offensive start, he has also distinguished himself as one of the league’s top defensive shortstops. He entered the weekend sixth in the NL with plus-four Defensive Runs Saved and first with an Ultimate Zone Rating of 3.2.

The outfield is deep

Remember all those lingering questions coming out of Spring Training about Marcell Ozuna’s health and Dexter Fowler’s fit as an everyday outfielder? Consider those answered. The biggest question now is how Shildt will continue to find a way to keep four deserving outfielders involved.

Ozuna not only leads the club in home runs and RBIs, but he’s played a capable left field. His arm strength has improved since undergoing offseason shoulder surgery. Fowler’s on-base percentage trails only DeJong’s on the team, and his ability to play center field has also allowed the Cardinals to maximize their versatility.

Then there’s Jose Martinez, who simply hits at every given opportunity. His reemergence has stolen playing time away from Harrison Bader, though Bader’s presence as an elite defender will continue to earn him chances to contribute.

The rotation can be better

Though they came in losing efforts, the performances by Wainwright and Mikolas offered a glimpse of what could be for this Cardinals’ staff. Now, the team needs to see it more consistently.

St. Louis starters have completed six innings in 16 of 40 games, well below the group’s 46-percent success rate in that category a year ago. The home-run rate and walk rates are too high, yet there have been flashes of dominance from all five members of the rotation.

“I think everyone has been trending in the right direction,” said Mikolas. “Baseball cliché: Sometimes the pitchers will pick up the slack, and sometimes the hitters will do that. I think once we start clicking on all cylinders, doing everything at the right time, we’ll be a very scary baseball club.”

Jordan Hicks is a legitimate closer

Though the Cardinals went into the season with no designated closer, their choice for the ninth inning has become all but automatic. Building on a rookie season in which he became a Statcast darling because of his radar readings, Hicks has evolved from hard-thrower to pitcher while thriving in his new role.

Though he still has the ability to touch triple-digits on the radar gun, Hicks has reduced his reliance on that sinker because he’s found his slider to be so effective. It’s a pitch that has jumped in usage from 22 percent in 2018 to 34 percent this season.

Hicks, who boasts a strikeout rate of 38 percent, has converted nine of 10 save opportunities.

The NL Central will be a dogfight

No surprise here, right?

The Cardinals dropped to 11-12 in the division with Saturday’s loss. The club sits third in the NL Central behind the two clubs (Chicago and Milwaukee) that have finished ahead of them each of the past two seasons. St. Louis is a combined 5-8 against them so far.


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PostPosted: May 12 19, 12:31 pm 
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Hudson looking good early


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PostPosted: May 12 19, 12:40 pm 
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A lot's been said about Jack Flaherty's conversations with Bob Gibson, but how about Dakota Hudson's obvious conversations with Lowell Palmer, Tom Underwood, and Lerrin LaGrow?


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PostPosted: May 12 19, 12:41 pm 
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Did Bader sleep with Shildt’s wife?


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PostPosted: May 12 19, 12:42 pm 
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Steve "Mr. Reciprocity" Brault, ladies and gentlemen.


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PostPosted: May 12 19, 12:43 pm 
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These two starting pitchers today are what we call “not very good”


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