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After sluggish start, Cardinals rotation rounding into strength it was meant to be

The 2021 Cardinals were built to win on pitching and defense. Over the past two weeks the starting rotation has started to look like the staff it was meant to be

ST. LOUIS — For the first two weeks or so of the season, the Cardinals' bullpen had to feel like it was running on fumes. Before April 19, the team had a starter go at least 6 innings just one time. (Jack Flaherty did it on April 7.)

But since April 19 (through Tuesday's game), the starters have rounded into the staff the team expected to have at the beginning of the season. And Cardinals manager Mike Shildt has jokes.

"Much rather have the bullpen well-rested and figure out a way to get them in rather than the other way around. But I'm sure some questions will be coming soon as to why we're not seeing the bullpen more," Shildt said laughing after Tuesday night's game.

Here are the stats for the Cardinals' rotation since Jack Flaherty's start on April 19 that started this impressive stretch:

Flaherty: 13 IP, 2.08 ERA and 11 strikeouts. He has wins in both of those starts.

Adam Wainwright: 16 IP, 1.69 ERA, 18 strikeouts and a complete game. The Cardinals lost both of those starts by a run each time.

Carlos Martinez: 13.1 IP, 1.35 ERA, 7 strikeouts and an opposing batting average of .130. The Cardinals are 1-1 in those starts from Martinez.

Kwang-Hyun Kim: 5.2 IP, 1.73 ERA and 8 strikeouts in his one start, which the Cardinals won.

John Gant: 6 IP, a 0.00 ERA and 8 strikeouts in one start which the Cardinals won.

Granted, it hasn't been a complete two turns through the rotation with flawless results like this, but it's closer to the rotation the team envisioned coming into the season. Most importantly, the Cardinals are 5-3 since April 19. And all three games they lost by just one run.

Even with the addition of Nolan Arenado, the 2021 Cardinals are still a team that needs its pitching and defense to carry the load if they want to be successful. At least in this recent small sample size that plan appears to be back on track.

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