One-hundred twenty games into the 2015 season, the St. Louis Cardinals hold the best record in all of baseball at 77-43 (.642 winning percentage). Whether or not they should be uniformly considered as "the best team in baseball," in actuality, does not really matter, but Neil Greenberg of the Washington Post felt the need to discuss the topic anyway. The offense has been middling for much of the season (currently 16th in wRC+ at 96), but the pitching staff (both the starters and the relievers) has been historically effective:
ERAs of the Cardinals rotation ... Jaime Garcia: 1.79 John Lackey: 2.87 Michael Wacha: 2.85 Carlos Martinez: 2.59 Lance Lynn: 2.94— Drew Silva (@drewsilv) August 20, 2015
Yet, despite all of the team success up to this point, it has not been a particularly smooth ride for individual Cardinals this season, as five of the nine members from the opening night starting lineup are currently injured—ranging from the hamstring of Jason Heyward (who could be back as soon as tomorrow) to the Achilles tendon of Adam Wainwright (who should probably be out until next season, but seems to be pushing for a late-September/October return).
As you will see in the interactive timeline below, 14 big-league contributors have been injured so far in 2015, with four players (Jaime Garcia, Randal Grichuk, Jon Jay, and Matt Holliday) missing time on two separate occasions. Taking roster size into consideration, this essentially means the Cardinals have had to use their entire 40-man roster at some point this season, which is shown to be true considering John Mozeliak has been forced to make room on three occasions, highlighted by the designations of Ty Kelly, Aledmys Diaz, and Marcus Hatley for assignment.
Comprehensive Timeline of 2015 Injuries
First, I do not think this embed will show up on mobile devices because it requires Adobe, so I will include a much less fun chart below. Second, I have zero clue why the timeline refuses to populate the injuries of Wainwright, Walden, and Heyward, but they are Achilles, shoulder, and hamstring, respectively. Third, I did not include Marco Gonzales on this list because even though he has been injured/rehabbing for a good portion of 2015, I only included players who have contributed to the big-league roster this season.
|Tommy Pham||Quad||March 27|
|Jaime Garcia||Shoulder||March 28|
|Randal Grichuk||Back||April 17|
|Adam Wainwright||Achilles||April 25|
|Jordan Walden||Shoulder||May 6|
|Matt Carpenter||Fatigue||May 9|
|Jon Jay||Wrist||May 10|
|Matt Adams||Quad||June 5|
|Matt Holliday||Quad||June 8|
|Lance Lynn||Forearm||June 12|
|Jaime Garcia||Groin||June 25|
|Jon Jay||Wrist||July 2|
|Mitch Harris||Groin||July 11|
|Matt Belisle||Elbow||July 24|
|Tim Cooney||Appendix||July 27|
|Matt Holliday||Quad||July 29|
|Randal Grichuk||Elbow||August 17|
|Jason Heyward||Hamstring||August 17|
Ultimately, choosing to blame Mercy, the "official medical provider" of the Cardinals, for these injuries is lazy. Complaints about the Cardinals' medical staff have persisted for years, and during this span, the team has used two completely different medical staffs. Unfortunately for them, they are an easy target.
Of course, it is not ideal to see some of the team's best players injured for extended periods of time, but that is the nature of the human body (particularly an aging one) asked to compete over a long, grueling baseball season. Instead of playing the "blame game," I choose to appreciate what the team, collectively, has been able to do in spite of the injuries detailed above. Here is to hoping the majority of the currently injured will be healthy (enough) and ready to compete come October.