Molina, 31, is hitting .330/.374/.479 with 30 doubles, eight homers and 54 RBI in 98 games this year. Throw in his outstanding defense behind the dish and he's an MVP candidate. The Cardinals are 56-38 in games he starts and 12-13 when he doesn't.
The timing of Molina's return couldn't be much better. The Cardinals are three back of the Pirates and only a half-game ahead of the Reds for the first wild-card spot with a game Thursday against the Pirates. St. Louis has dropped seven of its past nine to Pittsburgh.