Get ready to get really sick of seeing the St. Louis Cardinals.
Well, sicker than you normally are.
Despite playing the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds 16 times and the Pittsburgh Pirates 19 times this season, the Brewers have somehow only faced the Cardinals 6 times. That means we’re about to see them a bunch in the next month and a half or so, starting with this week’s set at Busch Stadium.
Through a mix of injuries and front office inaction, the Cardinals have been pretty disappointing this season, hanging around .500 for much of the year. They come into this series at 61-56 and in a comfortable third place — the Cubs are closer to last-place Pittsburgh than the Cardinals at this point — but even at 10 games behind the Brewers, the Cards have a chance to make things interesting down the stretch thanks to all of the upcoming head-to-head matchups. Prior to their current six-game winning streak (against the Pirates and Royals), St. Louis was actually under .500.
It doesn’t quite explain why the Cardinals acted somewhat like buyers at the MLB Trade Deadline, trading for veteran pitchers Jon Lester and J.A. Happ, but they’re presumably also trying to convince Nolan Arenado not to opt out of his contract at the end of the season. Regardless of the motivation, their playoff odds remain slim — PECOTA sees them making the playoffs just 1.2% of the time in its rest-of-season projections, whereas the Brewers’ odds sit at 98.1%.
The Cardinals have largely been a bottom-10 offense for much of the year, and currently rank 24th in the majors in runs scored, 21st in on-base percentage and 22nd in slugging percentage. Predictably, Arenado may be one of the only players keeping this group from looking as dreadful as the Pirates offensively.
As expected, the multi-time All-Star has seen a noticeable dip in his surface-level numbers after going from one of the best hitters parks in the majors to one of the worst, but he still leads the team in home runs (25) and runs driven in (78) while also seeing his OPS dip to the low-.800s with a .265/.324/.515 line.
Infamous Brewer Serial Killer Paul Goldschmidt pretty much leads the other offensive categories that Arenado doesn’t, coming into this week hitting .275/.343/.446 with 18 home runs and 20 doubles and leading the team in hits, OBP and average.
Remember all the hype Yadier Molina was getting for putting together the Best Season of His Career despite his advanced age and getting an All-Star nod before Omar Narvaez? He’s seen his production slide all the way down to a sub-.300 OBP, with his line now sitting at .255/.299/.380.
The Probable Pitchers
Tuesday, 6:45 p.m. CDT - Corbin Burnes vs. Adam Wainwright
The 39-year-old Wainwright keeps rolling despite all odds. He’s just outside the bottom 10% in the league in whiff rate this year, but he’s kept his impeccable control with one of the best BB% in the league. In 23 starts so far this year, Wainwright has put up a 3.27 ERA and 3.96 xERA, striking out 137 in 148.2 innings while putting up a 1.06 WHIP. It’s been awhile since we’ve seen him, but he may have started this season-long run against the Brewers back on April 8, when he rebounded from a poor first start against Cincinnati to hold the Brewers to just 1 run over 5 innings. Of course, that was a much different Brewers lineup in a series that feels like a lifetime ago.
Wednesday, 6:45 p.m. CDT - Freddy Peralta vs. Jack Flaherty
Flaherty has missed much of the season due to injury, and the Cardinals saw their playoff odds start to tank around the same time he went on the injured list with a severe oblique strain after his start on May 31. He made his return last Friday against the Royals after missing 2 1/2 months and looked like his normal excellent self, throwing 6 shutout innings while allowing just 2 hits with no walks and 5 strikeouts. That’s similar to the outing he posted against the Brewers on May 13 in the final week BA (Before Adames) — 6 innings, 4 hits, no runs allowed, 2 walks and 6 strikeouts. Flaherty is legit and we should be in for a pair of really good pitching matchups to start this series.
Thursday, 6:45 p.m. CDT - Brandon Woodruff vs. TBD
As of Tuesday morning, the Cardinals have not yet announced a starter for the series finale opposite Woodruff, likely waiting to see if Miles Mikolas is ready to return after his most recent minor league rehab start. If they don’t go that route, it could be Lester.
Statistics courtesy of Statcast and Baseball-Reference