"We're not trying to play mental games with any of these guys or trying to push them any more than we always do," Matheny said. "Right now we're in a spot where we'll just be brutally honest. This is where we are, this is where we think you are and this is what our club needs. Those are the kinds of conversations we had."
Lynn is winless in his last six starts and hasn't given up fewer than four earned runs in his last five outings, three of them lasting fewer than six innings. Although an 18-win season and an All-Star appearance in 2012 have raised expectations for the right-hander, Matheny cautioned not to forget that Lynn is still just 26 years old.
"The guy won 18 games last year, but that was his first full season. He's still a young pitcher," Matheny said. "He's got a lot of room for improvement. He's really working hard, too. He's trying to do the things that he thinks he's missing. We're trying to help him along that road; it's just been a tough road."
If Lynn can return to form -- he started the season 10-1 in his first 15 starts -- it will go a long way toward improving the Cardinals' odds in October.
"We know we're going to be a better team if Lance is right," Matheny said. "It all comes down to production, that's the bottom line. Are you getting the job done or aren't you? They know that. There can be different root causes to the struggles that your guys have, you just kind of try to address them and then you hope to see some improvement."
Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.