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Kyle McClellan, Lance Lynn and Kyle Lohse hold the keys

It's never easy to lose a 20-game winning pitcher.

But the three pitchers who have the best chance to fill Adam Wainwright's shoes are making the best of a bad situation.

Kyle McClellan and Lance Lynn are the favorites to fill the fifth slot in the St. Louis rotation. And McClellan's three strong innings Saturday against the Astros showed -- in case anyone forgot how well he pitched last spring -- that he's a legit contender. Lynn, last season's Class AAA ace, proved he's not going to make it easy on McClellan by pitching an outstanding three innings of his own in his first outing of the spring.

Neither McClellan nor Lynn are expected to win 15 or 16 games. But the Cardinals do have a guy who has done that in the recent past but who has been a non-factor the last two years. And he's doing his part so far, too.

Kyle Lohse has had electric stuff every time he's thrown this spring. And it translated into three innings a results last week when he made his debut in Grapefruit League.

A 200 vintage Lohse combined with a competent McClellan or Lynn at the back of the rotation could give the Cardinals what they need to have a chance to win their division: A set of pitchers who give them a chance to win every game the club plays.