Three fifths of a rotation good enough for Sports Illustrated

The St. Louis Cardinals are SOOOO popular …

How popular are they, Johnny?

The St. Louis Cardinals are so popular, a leading sports magazine published a cover story on how good their starting rotation is even when 40 percent of it is on the DL.

That’s respect.

The cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated shows Adam Wainwright, Shelby Miller, Jaime Garcia, Lance Lynn and Jake Westbrook lined up in iconic fashion, mirroring a 1968 SI cover that pictured Roger Maris, Tim McCarver, Bob Gibson, Mike Shannon and Lou Brock. 

Nice, right? Only problem — though it apparently wasn’t a problem for SI — is that Garcia and Westbrook are on ice, Garcia for the season, Westbrook presumably for the short term. A couple of rookies, John Gast and, as of tonight, Tyler Lyons, have earned starts in their stead.

Granted, the story of the Cardinals’ impressive rotation and the organizational philosophy that produced it remains valid; the ability to cycle in youngsters and remain dominant on the hill speaks volumes. But the cover image? Garcia’s injury developed Saturday, Westbrook’s the week before — certainly long enough for SI to shift gears on the cover.

Hey, it’s a sharp cover, even frame-worthy, and it will resonate with St. Louis fans who remember the 1968 image. But still.