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Series Preview: Pirates at Cardinals

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MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Baltimore Orioles Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

If the Cubs’ stalling has been the Pirates’ saving grace in the NL Central this year, the Cardinals’ sputtering has been a major boon, too. St. Louis sits just a game ahead of the Pirates in the standings. Some of the Cardinals’ most important hitters have struggled. Their starting rotation isn’t holding up all that well behind Carlos Martinez. The walls are starting to close in on Mike Matheny, which is bad news for non-Cardinals fans and Mike Matheny.

The Cardinals are 8-13 in June. They took two of three from the Phillies during the week.

The Pirates (33-40) split a four-game series in Milwaukee. If it’s possible to have a disappointing split at Miller Park, the Bucs did, taking the first two games, blowing the third late and falling flat in the finale.

Season Series: 3-0 Cardinals

At St. Louis:

April 17: Cardinals 2, Pirates 1

April 18: Cardinals 2, Pirates 1

April 19: Cardinals 2, Pirates 1

Schedule

Friday, 8:15 p.m. - Jameson Taillon (3-2, 3.38 ERA) vs. Adam Wainwright (7-5, 5.75), TV: Root

Saturday, 7:15 p.m. - Gerrit Cole (5-6, 4.28) vs. Lance Lynn (5-4, 3.33), TV: Fox

Sunday, 8:05 p.m. - Chad Kuhl (2-6, 5.46) vs. Mike Leake (5-6, 3.03), TV: ESPN

Cardinals

33-38 (34-37 Pythag, 4.34 RS/G, 4.51 RA/G)

Offense

Not that the Cardinals have always carried a bunch of mashers, but this particular St. Louis offense is not very strong. The position players rank 19th in Major League Baseball as a group, with a cumulative 7.1 fWAR. Jedd Gyorko has ridden some ups and downs to a .297/.347/.514 line and a team-best 1.6 fWAR. He’s followed on the team leaderboard by Dexter Fowler (.249/.341/.489) and Tommy Pham (.286/.374/.521), who are both boosted by strong baserunning. Pham has eventually come into more playing time with struggles by Randal Grichuk (sent to Triple-A) and Matt Adams (traded). Speaking of dismal years for Cardinals, Jhonny Peralta was also terrible and got released.

Pitching

The Pirates will miss Carlos Martinez, who should be a Cy Young candidate. Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn are not what they once were, but Mike Leake is still successful doing the Mike Leake Thing (6.46 K/9, 1.76 BB/9, 55.2 GB%, 3.03 ERA). In the bullpen Trevor Rosenthal (14.85 K/9) is back on the horse, with Seung-Hwan Oh closing capably and Matt Bowman and Brett Cecil looking solid as well.

Outlook

It seems the Pirates are constantly a few games away from really getting into the thick of things. While this series wouldn’t be the end-all and be-all, it would certainly help to throw another team — and a frequent competitor — beneath the Pirates in the standings.

Poll

How does this series go?

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    Pirates sweep!
    (30 votes)
  • 41%
    2-1 Pirates
    (89 votes)
  • 34%
    2-1 Cardinals
    (73 votes)
  • 9%
    Cardinals sweep
    (21 votes)
213 votes total Vote Now