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Series Preview: Cardinals at Pirates

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Kansas City Royals v St Louis Cardinals Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

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

At Pittsburgh

July 14: Pirates 5, Cardinals 2

July 15: Cardinals 4, Pirates 0

July 16: Pirates 4, Cardinals 3

Schedule

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

Cardinals

61-59 (65-55 Pythag, 4.65 RS/G, 4.25 RA/G)

Offense

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.

Pitching

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.

Outlook

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.

Poll

How does this series go?

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    Bring out the big brooms! Pirates sweep!
    (18 votes)
  • 20%
    3-1 Pirates
    (34 votes)
  • 24%
    2-2 split
    (40 votes)
  • 29%
    3-1 Cardinals
    (49 votes)
  • 14%
    Bring out the big, bad brooms. Cardinals sweep.
    (23 votes)
164 votes total Vote Now