July 12, 2017

(43–45, 5.5 games back in NL Central, 7.5 games back in Wild Card): The Cardinals looked like they could have gone either way entering the season, so it’s hard to fault them too much for their 43–45 record. Still, they were widely viewed as a playoff contender, but have appeared so only fleetingly. What’s most frustrating, however, is that key players for the future, such as Stephen Piscotty and Aledmys Diaz, have struggled so mightily this season. Dexter Fowler hasn’t proven to be the major coup they hoped, Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina are nearing the end, and even the rocksteady Matt Carpenter has disappointed. There are some genuine points of excitement, such as Carlos Martinez’s continued ascendance, great play from Jedd Gyorko and Tommy Pham, and the encouraging return of Michael Wacha, but this is a mediocre team playing mediocre ball. —Michael Beller

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