This series is big for someone.
The Pirates may need a few wins to hang on the fringes of the National League Central race (though we’ve said that all year); a big weekend for the Cardinals could put them in first place.
St. Louis rolled off an eight-game winning streak recently before losing their last three, including two at Boston, with a blown ninth-inning lead on Wednesday. At times an afterthought, they sit 2 1/2 games back of the first-place Cubs in the NL Central.
The Pirates (58-62) have lost four in a row, also on the tail of some decent baseball before that.
Season Series: 5-4 Cardinals
At St. Louis:
April 17: Cardinals 2, Pirates 1
April 18: Cardinals 2, Pirates 1
April 19: Cardinals 2, Pirates 1
At St. Louis:
June 23: Pirates 4, Cardinals 3
June 24: Pirates 7, Cardinals 3
June 25: Cardinals 8, Pirates 4
July 14: Pirates 5, Cardinals 2
July 15: Cardinals 4, Pirates 0
July 16: Pirates 4, Cardinals 3
Thursday, 7:05 p.m. - Adam Wainwright (12-5, 4.87 ERA) vs. Jameson Taillon (7-5, 4.50), TV: AT&T SportsNet
Friday, 7:05 p.m. - Carlos Martinez (9-9, 3.56) vs. Trevor Williams (5-5, 4.19), TV: AT&T SportsNet
Saturday, 4:05 p.m. - Michael Wacha (9-5, 3.85) vs. Chad Kuhl (5-8, 4.64), TV: AT&T SportsNet
Sunday, 7 p.m.* - Mike Leake (7-11, 3.88) vs. Ivan Nova (10-10, 3.77), TV: ESPN
* - MLB Little League Classic at Williamsport, PA
61-59 (65-55 Pythag, 4.65 RS/G, 4.25 RA/G)
Tommy Pham (.308/.399/.491, 14 HR, 14 BsR) is the team’s best player, and it’s not all that close. Paul DeJong, called up in late May, is second among Cardinals position players with 2.1 fWAR. He’s got a .300/.328/.577 line with 18 homers. His 3.8 percent walk rate stands out as a concern. He’s followed by Jedd Gyorko, Yadier Molina, Matt Carpenter and Kolten Wong. It’s not the mix of production you’d necessarily expect — Carpenter’s average has dipped, Wong has been good when healthy, Gyorko and Molina have been up and down.
At this point, Adam Wainwright (7.30 K/9, 3.27 BB/9, 4.87 ERA) is the worst starter the Pirates will face in this series, though he’s hanging in there. Carlos Martinez (9.62 K/9, 3.21 BB/9) ranks 13th among NL pitchers in fWAR (2.7), Michael Wacha (8.58 K/9, 2.88 BB/9) is 16th (2.5). Mike Leake (6.06 K/9, 2.19 BB/9) has gotten over 55 percent ground balls, and his 3.88 ERA isn’t too far off from his FIP (4.02) or xFIP (3.95). Trevor Rosenthal (14.35 K/9, 3.59 BB/9) has pitched his way back into the closer role. From a distance, at least on paper, it looks like Seung-Hwan Oh has had a little bad luck and is still a solid bullpen contributor.
Proclamations are tiresome.
We aren’t likely to know a whole lot more about either team by late Sunday night, but this is still a series that could start to swing things for one or both teams — particularly if the Pirates, already coming in cold, lose three or four.
How does this series go?
This poll is closed
Bring out the big brooms! Pirates sweep!
Bring out the big, bad brooms. Cardinals sweep.