Red-hot Cardinals get huge boost in return of star catcher

red-hot cardinals get huge boost in return of star catcher

St. Louis Cardinals catcher Willson Contreras.

When Willson Contreras landed on the injured list with a fractured left arm in early May, the St. Louis Cardinals were 15-21, seven games behind the Milwaukee Brewers and in last place in the NL Central.

Their futility stretched to a season-worst seven-game losing streak on May 11. They were sitting in last place at 15-24 and nine games in back of the first-place Brewers.

Since then, St. Louis has been one of the hottest teams in baseball, and the club's starting backstop will be returning to action on Monday.

The Cardinals (39-37) have gone 24-13 and moved into second place in the division since their lowest point, have shaved two games off Milwaukee's lead and, most importantly, hold the second NL wild card spot entering Monday.

Although they've won eight of their last 11 contests, they'll welcome back Contreras with open arms.

The three-time All-Star led St. Louis in runs scored (20), doubles (11), home runs (six), walks (18), on-base percentage (.398), slugging percentage (.551) and OPS (.950) at the time of his injury. Contreras is still fourth in two-baggers and would lead the club in on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS if he had enough plate appearances to qualify.

After going 71-91 to end in the NL Central cellar in 2023, St. Louis is looking to avoid its first back-to-back last-place finishes since the 1907 and 1908 seasons. The return of the ninth-year catcher could help the Cardinals not only avoid that distinction but return to the playoffs as well.

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