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Even rising stars feel the grind of their first full season in the majors. We're watching Stephen Piscotty play his way through it. After averaging .295/.370/.480 in the first half, he has dipped to .240/.305/.422 in the second. He's at .246/.301/.354 through 65 at-bats this month. The push for the postseason asks exhausted players who have logged 135 starts to dig for a little bit more.

Will Matheny's loyalty cost production?

One of the accurate gripes about Cardinals manager Mike Matheny is that he can tend to favor tenure over talent. Fading veterans receive chance after chance while others run into roadblocks. Will Jhonny Peralta continue to start at third base over Greg Garcia, who offers better defense at the position along with a team-high .388 on-base percentage? Will Jaime Garcia supplant Luke Weaver faster than Alex Reyes replaced Garcia? If Matt Holliday is medically cleared, will he be plugged into a bigger role than his mending body is capable of handling? Only the manager can answer this question. His choices could determine the Cardinals' postseason fate.

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