Carlos Martinez gives the Cardinals a taste of the difference he can make in NL Central

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The competition figures to be fierce in the National League Central this season. You have the Chicago Cubs, one season removed from a cheap nfl jerseys from china title and smack in the middle of their window of contention. And you have the rising Milwaukee Brewers, who made the division’s biggest offseason splash by acquiring outfielders Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain on the same day during the dead of winter.

Meanwhile, you have the always solid St. Louis Cardinals. Always solid but in recent years, not so much spectacular. The Redbirds have finished over .500 each of the past two seasons, extending their streak of winning campaigns to 10. Yet St. Louis has sat out in October both times, which, in a town that lives and dies with its baseball team, is something like a drought.

Solid is good. But in the heightened competition of baseball’s current top-heavy landscape, it’s hardly enough. However, on Wednesday, the Cardinals saw a glimpse of their most likely path from solid to super. That path, if it opens up, will be lighted by Carlos Martinez.

“That was the best we’ve seen,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “That’s the stuff we expect to see. It was fun to watch him today.”

At times, Martinez is dominant, flashing the kind of stuff and the repertoire you only find among those belonging to baseball’s rarefied club of aces. Martinez certainly dominated the Brewers on Wednesday: 10 strikeouts over 8? shutout innings and a midgame stretch of 15 straight outs, eight by strikeout.

According to ESPN Stats & Information research, it was Martinez’s fourth outing since the start of the 2017 season in which he reached double digits in K’s without allowing a run. It was the ninth time in his career that he struck out at least 10 batters. If not for a botched grounder by fielding replacement Yairo Munoz that should have been turned into a game-ending double play, Martinez would have had his third career shutout.

Yet we are only a few days removed from nfl cheap jerseys Martinez’s clunker in St. Louis’ season opener in New York, where he walked six and failed to get out of the fifth inning. With Martinez, it has never been a question about his ceiling. It’s been about consistency.

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