Allen Craig has helped to fill Albert Pujols' large shoes. Image Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Phillies vs. Cardinals Series Preview: Can the Phillies Rebound Against the First Place Cards?

After starting off the second half with a 13-run explosion, the Phillies quickly killed that momentum by losing the next two games to the New York Mets.  The schedule becomes much tougher as they have to travel to St. Louis and take on the first place Cardinals.

What’s New with the Cardinals

The Cardinals are often hailed as one of the best organizations in baseball.  They seem to be in playoff contention every season, and this year’s squad is no exception.  The Cardinals success is due to both a powerful offense (4th in runs scored) and a stingy pitching staff. (4th in team ERA)

Cardinals Player who isn’t Completely Terrible

Many people predicted that the Cardinals would struggle without Albert Pujols.  While it would be an impossible task to fully replace Pujols’ legendary production, his replacement at first base has done an admirable job.   Allen Craig has been quite impressive with a .332 batting average and a .864 OPS.  Those numbers earned him a well-deserved spot on the National League All-Star team.

Cardinals Player who is Terrible

Don’t let Lance Lynn’s 11-5 record fool you.  He’s lost four of his last five starts and his ERA has gone up by over half a run in that time.

Tweet of Optimism

It’s almost as if the National League East wants the Phillies to stay in it just so they won’t sell players to other contending teams.

Tweet of Pessimism

But doesn’t a lot always have to go right to make the playoffs?

Final Analysis

The Phillies couldn’t get the job done against the Mets, making this week’s games that much more crucial.  The series against the Cardinals will be tough, but the Phillies were playing well against other good teams before the break.  If they want to stay in the race, they’ll have to find a way to do it again.

For more Phillies thoughts, follow me on Twitter @MikeLacy_215

Tags: Albert Pujols Allen Craig Baseball Lance Lynn Mike Lacy MLB Philadelphia Phillies Series Preview St. Louis Cardinals

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