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Brewers (17-34) @ Cardinals (33-17) series preview

You literally cannot find a larger gap in wins in MLB than the one between the Cardinals and Brewers. This is a match-up of the best win-loss record in baseball vs the worst.

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

These two teams are in a tightly locked battle for first place in the NL Central. The Cardinals hold the top position for now. FOR NOW! The Brewers are a mere 16.5 games back. The Cardinals have the best record in baseball and the Brewers have the worst. So you know, it could be worse. They could be the Expos.

The Cardinals' devil magic is strong indeed this year. They're 7th in wRC+ (3rd in the NL). They also have the 4th best team pitching fWAR in baseball (3rd in the NL). There isn't a team with a better combo except for the Dodgers. And keep in mind, they've done this with the loss of Adam Wainwright.

They did recently lose their first baseman Matt Adams to injury. He's going to miss anywhere from 3-4 months and could be out until next year. In-division trades are typically quite rare but I can't help but notice that Adam Lind would make a pretty perfect acquisition for the Cardinals. He won't be cheap to get after his hot start but he also won't break the prospect bank. He has a buyout for next year which means they don't have to worry about figuring things out with a healthy Matt Adams. They could probably trade him in the offseason too. As I mentioned, in-division trades are rare but this one make too much sense for both sides. So in other words it won't happen.

Offensive Spotlight

One might have reasonably guessed that Matt Holliday or perhaps Jason Heyward would be leading the team in fWAR but instead it's Matt Carpenter. He has an incredibly impressive 2.4 fWAR already. That's good for 8th in all of baseball (position players). He's currently slashing 318/398/559 (408 wOBA, 162 wRC+). That's pretty darned impressive for a 13th round draft pick!

Pitching Match-Ups

Monday June 1, 7:10 pm CST: Mike Fiers vs Jaime Garcia

The last season Jaime Garcia didn't miss significant time due to injury was 2011. He just recently returned from another injury that had him sidelined for weeks. He throws a wide variety of pitches including 3 fastballs (89-91), a slider, curve ball, and change-up. He hasn't been very effective thus far though his ERA doesn't show it. He's been susceptible the home run ball (1.38 HR/9). Hopefully the Brewers can keep that going.

Tuesday June 2, 7:15 pm CST: TBD vs Lance Lynn

Lance Lynn is excellent. I underestimated him for years because he throws primarily fastballs and sliders. But he sure makes it work for him (25.8 K%, 3.41 ERA, 3.06 FIP, 3.38 xFIP). He also throws the occasional curve ball and change-up.

Brewers Note: After yesterday's 17th inning cluster...The Brewers were forced to move up Mike Fiers to pitch on Monday. That re-opened a spot for a starter for Tuesday's game. Tyler Cravy was called up to pitch out of the bullpen, but if he isn't needed it's possible he could start this game. It seems more likely it will be Taylor Jungmann as this would be his normal day to start. We'll find out sometime on Monday. Very likely after the game though.

Wednesday June 3, 12:45 pm CST: Jimmy Nelson vs John Lackey

Lakey has a slightly below average K%-BB% (11.4%) mostly due to his weak 17.9 K%. But he is only allowing an opponent batting average of .230 which is quite good. As is his 1.15 WHIP. His 0.42 HR/9 is his real saving grace as exhibited by his 3.90 xFIP compared to his 2.83 ERA and 3.14 FIP. But looking at his career, home run suppression hasn't exactly been a strength of his. In his 3 seasons prior to this year his HR/9 was over 1.00. It's never been a huge problem for him, but that 0.42 HR/9 seems destined to go up and possibly significantly.

Statistics courtesy of FanGraphs