The Cardinals’ spring as a whole was forgettable at best.
But they’ve wasted no time in putting up solid offensive and pitching numbers in the first week of the season.
In five games, they have outscored their opponents 30-16 and have seen four players (Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina, and Colby Rasmus) hit two home runs.
The pitching has matched the offense's success.
Chris Carpenter won his first start, going six innings and allowing five hits and two earned runs while striking out five.
Adam Wainwright also won his first start, pitching seven strong innings and only allowing three hits and two earned runs while striking out six.
But the best news the Cardinals have gotten so far this season was rookie Jamie Garcia’s solid debut against Milwaukee on Saturday.
Garcia made his first start in 19 months after undergoing Tommy John surgery, and he made the most of it.
In just his second Major League start, he pitched six strong innings of four-hit ball, striking out five and only giving up one earned run.
The win by Garcia does several things for the Cardinals’ pitching staff.
Most importantly, it shows that the Cardinals could finally have some stability at the No. 5 starting spot this season. After going through Todd Wellemeyer, Brad Thompson, P.J. Walters, and Mitchell Boggs last season, the No. 5 spot was anything but reliable.
If Garcia can keep this going, the Cardinals could easily have one of the most complete pitching staffs in all of the Major Leagues.
Secondly, Garcia’s success fills the need for a solid left-handed pitcher in the starting rotation. The last left-handed starter to win for the Cardinals was Mark Mulder in 2006.
Another thing to remember is that the offense that Garcia went up against in his debut isn’t exactly a pushover.
The Brewers boast one of the better lineups in the National League with Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, and an up-and-coming Casey McGehee hitting in the middle of the order. Braun has a career .362 average against lefties, but was held hitless against Garcia, as was Fielder.
With the potency of the offense so far, it looks as though the hiring of Mark McGwire as hitting coach is paying off.
With Dave Duncan as the pitching coach, Garcia could be in for an extremely solid season.
This story was originally published at RedbirdReport.com