I contributed a pair of guest posts at Fungoes this week that I thought I'd shamelessly plug over here. Those of you that can't bear to wade through "Fantasyland B.S." won't find this very interesting but someone may this quick study useful.
For the first one, I used the ZiPS in-season projection tool to estimate how much better the offense can be expected to perform after several players badly underproduced in the first half. The conclusion was that Edmonds, Rolen, and Kennedy can be expected to contribute at much better rates going forward, while ZiPS thinks that Duncan is playing over his head. I think ZiPS is underrating Duncan and it remains to be seen whether Rolen's shoulder responds to the cortisone shot, but Edmonds has looked great at times and Kennedy is a better player than he's looked most of the first half. The projections and Pinto's lineup toy gives us an estimate of how many runs the Cardinals can be expected to score per game this season and a total estimate of how many runs we'll score the rest of the year.
In the second post, I took the total run scored estimate down the stretch and plugged it into the Pythagorean expectation formula to get estimates of what rates the pitching and defense would need to hold opposition offenses to in order to reach win-loss targets that would put us in contention for the division lead.
The conclusion there is that the starters would have to pitch over their heads even in the case where the Cubs and Brewers collapse. They'd have to be phenomenal to catch the Brewers if they maintain their current pace and our offense produces as expected.
That's just an objective demonstration of what we already know: the season isn't quite over yet but the Cards will need to play much better the rest of the way to make it to the postseason—and they'll need to do it without Carpenter.
The next week gives us a golden opportunity to make up significant ground in the division. In the immortal words of Fezzik: "I hope we win."
PS: I'll plug Erik's guest post on Cardinal defensive performances while I'm cross-promoting: Whither the Leather.