St. Louis' late-inning failures

Jason Motte throws gas in the ninth inning, but St. Louis has few other effective relievers. Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The St. Louis Cardinals are one of the best teams in baseball. Sure, they are eight games out of first in the NL Central and would miss the playoffs if the season ended today, but there's more to their 58-49 record. In spite of that record, the Cardinals rate as the best team in the National League, according to WAR. And while WAR expects them to be a dominant force, the results haven't shown up in the team's win-loss record yet.

In order for the Cardinals to live up to their lofty ranking, they are going to have to start performing better in some crucial areas.

There are many stats that indicate the Cardinals have been a great team this season. They currently lead the majors with a plus-107 run differential. Their offense has also been great. The Cardinals' 113 wRC+, which measures how well a team performs offensively, is second only to that of the New York Yankees. St. Louis' starting pitching has also been excellent: Their 12.4 WAR trails only that of the Washington Nationals this season. The one area where the team has struggled this season is in the bullpen.