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Cards' bullpen showing signs of turnaround

MLB.com @LangoschMLB

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals' ragged road trip not only ended on an upswing with consecutive wins, but also with a pair of potentially key bullpen arms seemingly shaping into form.

On Monday, general manager Michael Girsch called the resurgence of Greg Holland "one of the bright spots" from the past week. And while Holland's three scoreless appearances helped the Cardinals to a pair of wins, the long-term ramifications could be more substantial.

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ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals' ragged road trip not only ended on an upswing with consecutive wins, but also with a pair of potentially key bullpen arms seemingly shaping into form.

On Monday, general manager Michael Girsch called the resurgence of Greg Holland "one of the bright spots" from the past week. And while Holland's three scoreless appearances helped the Cardinals to a pair of wins, the long-term ramifications could be more substantial.

View Full Game Coverage

Holland's return from a hip injury has brought with it a measure of optimism that he can still contribute in a meaningful way. His three appearances since coming off the disabled list have been uncomplicated -- one hit allowed over three innings -- and crisp. He struck out five and walked none. In comparison, Holland tallied 15 walks and 10 strikeouts over his first 18 games this season.

"I think my control's just better," said Holland, who has thrown 79 percent of his pitches for strikes since returning from the DL. "[It] feels nice to kind of get some scoreless outings and some easier innings. [They've] not [been] extremely stressful, which has been my own fault here recently."

Reliever Brett Cecil also made three scoreless appearances on the road trip. Getting reliable innings from both veteran relievers could go far in helping settle a 'pen that ranks 11th in the NL with a 4.19 ERA.

"They were supposed to be two of the three or four pieces in the back end of games for us going into the season, so if they can get back to that, that makes a huge difference in our bullpen," Girsch said. "Obviously, you don't want to overreact to two or three innings, but it's certainly good, positive innings from this road trip."

An additional boost to the bullpen could be coming soon, too, as Matt Bowman, Tyler Lyons and Luke Gregerson are all making progress in their respective rehab programs. Bowman threw another fastball-only bullpen session on Monday and will receive an injection to stimulate blood flow to his fingers on Tuesday. He expects to resume throwing by the end of the week.

Lyons played catch at 90 feet on Monday afternoon, and Gregerson threw off the mound. Rehab assignments should be coming within the next week or two for all three pitchers.

"It'd be ideal if the guys we were expecting to have big parts in our bullpen are healthy and effective, then hopefully our bullpen starts pitching like we thought it would all season," Girsch said. "But we do need guys to pitch better. Not just get healthy, but actually be effective."

Wacha to miss several weeks
Though the Cardinals were still waiting for a second read of Michael Wacha's MRI results, Girsch confirmed that the organization does not expect the right-hander to return to the rotation until after the All-Star break. Girsch characterized Wacha's left oblique strain as "more moderate than mild."

Once they receive the second opinion, the Cardinals will script out a rehab plan for Wacha. He's likely to receive an injection in his side, Girsch said, to help alleviate the discomfort and expedite his recovery.

Video: STL@PHI: Wacha exits in the 4th with oblique strain

Worth noting
• The Cardinals have given John Gant the first opportunity to plug Wacha's rotation vacancy, but they are not ignoring what rising prospect Dakota Hudson is doing in Triple-A. Hudson leads the Pacific Coast League with a 2.04 EA and has allowed two runs over his last 28 innings.

"The better Dakota pitches, the more he forces our hand to make a decision to get him up here at some point," Girsch said. "And if it makes sense, we will."

Video: Girsch provides updates on injured Cards players

Paul DeJong is scheduled to undergo another X-ray and bone scan on his surgically repaired left hand on Thursday to ensure that it is healing properly. If all checks out well, DeJong will begin a Minor League rehab assignment shortly thereafter.

Tommy Pham remained out of the lineup for a second straight day on Monday, but he was feeling good enough to be available off the bench. Pham battled an illness throughout much of the team's recent road trip.

Adam Wainwright (right elbow inflammation) is expected to start playing catch next week. His progression from catch to long toss to throwing off the mound will take several weeks. Wainwright has been sidelined since May 14.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

St. Louis Cardinals, Brett Cecil, Greg Holland