NEW YORK This has been an unfamiliar season for the Cardinals, one in which they have not spent a single day in first place in the National League Central after opening the season by getting swept in Pittsburgh and watching the Cubs bolt out to a double-digit lead by early June. How unfamiliar is it? This has never happened before.Since the creation of the Central Division in 1994, the Cardinals have spent at least a day in first place every year. They have won the division 10 times. The last time St. Louis went through the entire season without spending any time in first place was 1991, when the Cardinals finished 14 games behind the Pirates in the old https://www.marlinsedge.com/miami-marlins/giancarlo-stanton-jersey National League East.Unlike 1991, the Cardinals can wind up having a succe sful season even without being a first-place team, thanks, of course, to the wild card. St. Louis is 6 1/2 gamesbehind the Cubs in the Central after its doubleheader split Tuesday against the Mets, but only one game behind the Marlins for a playoff spot. The Cardinals’ last World Series win, in 2011, came as a wild-card team.MORE: Sporting News ranks every MLB manager, 1-30There’s still so many games left that there’s no reason to look at where we’re at in the standings right now, infielder Jedd Gyorko told Sporting News. We’ve just got to go out and play good baseball. I think if we can play the way that we’re capable of, and go out and win as many games as po sible, at the end of the year, we’ll be where we need to be. You go through stretches where you play really good baseball, but over the course of a week, two weeks, a month, I don’t think that we’ve consistently played as good as we can. We showed signs early we were swinging the bats well and the pitching was a little bit behind. Lately, the starting pitching’s been really good and maybe we haven’t scored as many runs as we’d like. If those two things can start working together, we’ll be fine.The Cardinals have scored the second-most runs in the National League, while the pitching staff has the sixth-ranked ERA in the loop the opposite of what most would have expected at the start of the year. Deposed closer Trevor Rosenthal hit the disabled list Tuesday, joining sparkplug Matt Carpenter, slugger Brandon Mo s and veteran Jhonny Peralta. In a surprise to nobody, the Cardinals have gotten strong performances from fill-ins from their always productive farm system, like Aledmys Diaz being an All-Star after not being Andre Dawson Jersey on the opening day roster. When key players get healthy, so much the better for St. Louis.Although the numbers for the rotation point to starting pitching as St. Louis’ weak spot this season, when you look at the pitchers there Jaime Garcia, Mike Leake, Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha and Adam Wainwright and what is available on the trade market, you realize that it’s not an area ripe for upgrade. The lineup doesn’t need a boost in significant enough fashion to justify a major trade. Seung-hwan Oh, the replacement for Rosenthal as closer, has 68 strikeouts in 511/3 innings and has been fine since a suming the ninth inning.MORE: SN ranks the top 50 players in baseballIf the Cardinals are going to make a trade before Monday’s deadline, they should be focusing on minor moves to strengthen their bullpen depth or their bench. The reason is not that the Cardinals are hopele sly behind the Cubs, but that without a glaring weakne s on the roster, the wisest path forward is to believe that the best days still lie ahead for a roster that is very good as constructed. Keep the farm system intact, try to pull off some magic in October, Jose Fernandez Jersey then worry in the winter about how to compete with the burgeoning superteam in Chicago.We’re just playing as if nothing’s going to happen, and we’re going to continue to just try to win ballgames, Leake said. If there’s a move, there’s a move. If there isn’t, there isn’t. We just have to keep playing.Consideringthe Cardinals have the best record in the Central since the beginning of June, that is their best po sible plan. They may never get to first place this year, but this is a St. Louis team that can accomplish its goals anyway.