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Brewers (1-5) @ Cardinals (3-2) series preview

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The Brewers open their first road series of the young season against division rivals and arch nemeses the Baby Eaters...I mean the St. Louis Cardinals.

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Well, what can you say about the Brewers opening week? There were some good individual performances. Heck, there were some truly great individual performances. But the team couldn't function on all cylinders and they went 1-5. It was awful and it's not going to be any easier this week. First up are those darned Cardinals who are yet again a strong team.

Let's take a look at last year's numbers.

The Position Players

Player Position DRS UZR PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR
Yadier Molina C --- 8 445 6.3 12.5 282 333 386 317 102 2.9
Tony Cruz C --- -4 150 8.7 18.7 200 270 259 242 51 -0.6
Matt Adams 1B 8 2.4 563 4.6 20.2 288 321 457 337 116 2.1
Kolton Wong 2B 9 2.8 433 4.8 16.4 249 292 388 299 90 1.9
Jhonny Peralta SS 17 12.0 628 9.2 17.8 364 446 443 343 120 5.3
Matt Carpenter 3B -2 -0.8 709 13.4 15.7 272 375 375 339 117 4.0
Matt Holliday LF 0 -1.9 667 11.1 15.0 272 370 441 360 132 3.6
Jon Jay CF 6 3.1 468 6.0 16.7 303 372 378 336 115 2.4
Jason Heyward RF 32 24.1 649 10.3 15.1 271 351 384 329 110 5.2
Peter Bourjos OF 7 8.9 294 6.8 26.5 231 294 348 287 82 1.7
Randal Grichuck OF 4 5.4 116 4.3 26.7 245 278 400 299 90 0.6
Pete Kozma UTIL --- --- 26 11.5 15.4 304 385 435 365 135 0.3
Mark Reynolds UTIL --- --- 433 10.9 28.2 196 287 394 302 87 1.7

Okay, look. I know the Cardinals are the enemy and they embody evilness, but can we just take a moment to admire Matt Holliday's career.?I mean seriously, the guy has been good from day one. He's had 11 seasons where he was just really good averaging 4.4 fWAR.

Okay, look. I know the Cardinals are the enemy and they embody evilness, but can we just take a moment to admire Jason Heyward's defensive prowess? He had a 32 DRS last season which was a career high he's unlikely to repeat, but he's never had a DRS below 15. He hasn't been overwhelming at the plate, but he has been solidly above average. Combine that with his defense and he's darned good. Oh, by the way he's only 25. Dude is in for a huge payday this coming off-season when he becomes a free agent.

Jhonny Peralta has experienced a bit of a late career surge. In his first 8 seasons he accumulated an 11.4 fWAR. In the last 4 seasons he accumulated a 17.1 fWAR. He was worth 5.3 fWAR last year but I don't expect that to be repeated. His defensive value spiked and I don't think he can do that again. He might still be among the best offensive shortstop again.

Yadier Molina had a nice 3 year stretch where his offense was top notch. That seemed to have ended last year when he only produced a .317 wOBA and a 102 wRC+. Small sample size applies, but he hasn't been effective thus far this season. If the offense is gone then so too is the Molina's reign as the top 1-3 catchers in the NL.

The Pitching Staff

Player Position IP K% BB% HR/9 BAA WHIP ERA FIP xFIP SIERA fWAR
Adam Wainwright SP 227.0 19.9 5.6 0.40 219 1.03 2.38 2.88 3.34 3.52 4.8
Lance Lynn SP 203.2 20.9 8.3 0.57 235 1.26 2.74 3.35 3.81 3.84 3.4
John Lackey SP 198.0 19.7 5.6 1.09 262 1.28 3.82 3.78 3.48 3.64 2.4
Michael Wacha SP 107.0 21.0 7.4 0.50 232 1.20 3.20 3.17 3.71 3.74 1.9
Carlos Martinez SP 89.1 21.8 9.3 0.40 260 1.41 4.03 3.18 3.54 3.45 1.3
Trevor Rosenthal CL 70.1 28.3 13.6 0.26 218 1.41 3.20 2.99 3.73 3.40 1.1
Jordan Walden RP 50.0 30.2 13.2 0.36 1.85 1.20 2.88 3.79 3.29 3.10 0.8
Seth Maness RP 80.1 17.4 3.5 0.78 253 1.10 2.91 3.38 3.19 2.88 0.4
Matt Belisle RP 64.2 15.3 6.7 0.70 282 1.44 4.87 3.74 3.92 3.85 0.3
Randy Choate RP 36.0 21.6 8.8 0.50 208 1.11 4.50 3.58 3.58 3.00 0.2
Kevin Siegrist RP 30.1 26.4 11.4 1.48 262 1.58 6.82 4.62 4.14 3.40 -0.2
Carlos Villaneuva RP 77.2 21.0 5.5 0.70 277 1.39 4.64 3.13 3.61 3.28 1.2

Adam Wainwright has always been one of the best starters in the National League but last year saw some of his skills decline ever so slightly. He was still good producing a 4.8 fWAR in 227 innings. But he had one of the lowest K% in his career and the lowest SwStr% in his career. His velocity dipped a bit too and at least in 1 start it's even lower this year (though SSS applies as velo often is at it's lowest in the first month). In the off-season he had a procedure done to clean up his previously repaired (TJ surgery) elbow a bit. Wainwright isn't exactly young anymore and while none of these things are red flags, they are something I'd be monitoring closely.

The rest of the rotation looks pretty good so the Cardinals should be fine if Wainwright does get hurt. I've always underestimated Lance Lynn and I won't anymore. Michael Wacha looks like yet another Cardinals pitching success. The same goes for Carlos Martinez.

Trevor Rosenthal is really good at missing bats but that walk rate last year is pretty alarming. He needs to clean that up or I could see him going the way of John Axford and Chris Perez. Jordan Walden has some hops. Literally. How his hop towards the plate as part of his wind-up is legal I have no idea. But it is and he's been effective with it.

Pitching Match-Ups

Monday April 13th, 3:15 pm CST: Matt Garza vs Adam Wainwright

He's good. What more can I say? It's going to be a tough game for Brewers hitters.

Wednesday April 15th, 7:15 pm CST: Wily Peralta vs Lance Lynn

He's good. What more can I say? It's going to be a tough game for Brewers hitters.

Thursday April 16th, 12:45 pm CST: Mike Fiers vs John Lackey

Eh, John Lackey is okay. He's got three fastballs (4-seam, 2-seam, cutter) and a curveball. He throws a change-up occasionally. I definitely like this match-up more than the first two games.