I'm going to admit something that's going to shock and anger a lot of people: I don't really hate the Cardinals anymore. Tony LaRussa is with the Diamondbacks which is hilarious. Chris Carpenter isn't around anymore either. I mean, I still dislike Yadier Molina a little bit, but he's not that good anymore so it feels like kicking an old dog. Mike Matheny is dislike-able but he hurts his own club more than he annoys me with TLR-esque rhetoric so it's more funny than anything.
In a way the Cardinals have also sort of helped the Brewers out in recent seasons. They gave them Michael Blazek for a mis-firing John Axford. And this year they gave them a lottery ticket and some salary relief for an under-performing Jonathan Broxton. It's like one day the school bully came around and gave you a stick of Fruit Stripe. It loses it's flavor instantly and becomes super hard for gum, but it was a nice gesture.
Then there is the hacking fiasco. That just makes them something of a laughing stock. Besides that, at this point I think the Brewers farm system is better than the Cardinals so there isn't that to envy. They're obviously the better major league team right now. But they're old too. Pretty soon it seems likely the Pirates and Cubs will overthrow the baby-eater's reign. And at that point I don't think it's crazy to think the Brewers future will be the brighter one.
For now though they are still in first place by a wide margin (6 games up on the Pirates) and must be considered the favorites to win the division. With the best record in baseball (.639 win percentage) and no one else even remotely close (second best win% is Kansas City's .589) they probably have to be considered World Series favorites.
But that's okay. If they win this three game series against the Brewers then they help them get a better draft pick. If the Brewers win this series that's okay too. It's still fun to win and it's still more fun to beat the Cardinals. I said I don't really hate them anymore. I absolutely did not say I like them!
Matt Carpenter has been the best offensive regular for the Cardinals with a 13a wRC+. That's very good but it's not quite elite. Their offense is more geared around no one being truly bad than any one bat being truly elite. Yadier Molina and Mark Reynolds have been the only players with below average offense to see significant playing time. And at least Molina backs up his offense with excellent defense.
Friday August 7, 7:10 pm CST: Tyler Cravy vs Lance Lynn
Lynn: 121.1 IP, 25.2 K%, 3.1 BB%, .242 BAA, 1.04 WHIP, 0.67 HR/9, 40.5 GB%, 2.89 ERA, 3.00 FIP
Lance Lynn throws fastball (91-92), slider, curveball, and change-up.
Saturday August 8, 6:10 pm CST: Jaime Garcia vs Wily Peralta
Garcia: 59.0 IP, 18.6 K%, 5.9 BB%, .197 BAA, 0.92 WHIP, 0.61 HR9, 67.3 GB%, 1.98 ERA, 3.25 FIP
Jaime Garcia throws a fastball (90-91), cutter, change-up, curveball.
Sunday August 9, 1:10 pm CST: John Lackey vs Jimmy Nelson
Lackey: 145.1 IP, 18.6 K%, 5.9 BB%, .245 BAA, 1.19 WHIP, 0.68 HR/9, 45.4 GB%, 2.85 ERA, 3.41 FIP
John Lackey throws a fastball (91-92), cutter, curveball, and change-up.
Statistics courtesy of FanGraphs