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Rosenthal: The Cardinals unheralded trades for J.A. Happ and Jon Lester are paying off – The Athletic

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Eight words out of nearly 2,500. That’s all I devoted to the Cardinals in my trade-deadline wrapup, and I did not even mention by name the two left-handed starting pitchers they had acquired, Jon Lester and J.A. Happ. All I wrote was, “. . . even the Cardinals (2 percent) fortified their rotation” – the 2 percent referring to the team’s playoff odds on deadline day, July 30.

I was not alone in dismissing the Cardinals. Fan, media and industry reaction to the additions of Lester and Happ ranged from indifference to derision. The Cardinals at the time were 51-51, 9 1/2 games back in the NL Central, 7 1/2 back in the wild-card race. Yet they determined their solutions were Lester, 37, who had a 5.02 ERA with the Nationals, and Happ, 38, who had a 6.77 ERA with the Twins. And lest anyone forget, their ace, Adam Wainwright, was about to turn 40.

“I knew there were some jokes out there about the age of our staff,” Happ said, but jokes were only part of it. There was actual criticism, too. “You hear it. And I understood it,” Lester said. “I knew I wasn’t having a great year. Not many people trade for someone who has a 5 ERA and say, ‘He’s going to come help us.’”

Lester has, producing a 4.30 ERA in eight starts, including a 1.90 in his last four. So has Happ, whose ERA is 2.

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