clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

St. Louis Cardinals series preview: Dem Birds is dirty

New, 8 comments
MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Miami Marlins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Those dastardly cross-state St. Louis Cardinals come to Kauffman Stadium to face off against the lowly Kansas City Royals, whose more recent World Series victory has been rendered so much more distant a memory than the Cardinals’ last one by virtue of how unimaginably bad the Royals have been in this rudderless nightmare of a 2018 campaign in which they are currently on pace to go 49-113, easily surpassing the previous low-water mark which came in the midst of the Aughts. a decade that saw the Royals drop 100 or more games four times.

The Cardinals currently find themselves on the outside looking in on the Wild Card, trailing the Braves by 3.5 games with two other teams ahead of them in the playoff picture. Things haven’t gone by design for John Mozeliak’s squad this season, with public gaffes related to the club’s handling of Dexter Fowler and Tommy Pham and the disappointing season leading to the firing of the much-maligned Mike Matheny.

Game times and pitching matchups are as follows:

  • Friday, August 10 — 7:15 PM CDT — Jolly Austin Gomber (L) versus Burch Smith
  • Saturday, August 11 — 6:15 PM CDT — Jack Flaherty versus Danny Duffy (L)
  • Sunday, August 12 — 1:15 PM CDT — Luke Weaver versus Jakob Junis

Cardinals at Royals pitching matchups

Pitcher G IP K K% BB BB% ERA FIP xFIP SIERA fWAR rWAR
Pitcher G IP K K% BB BB% ERA FIP xFIP SIERA fWAR rWAR
Game 1
Austin Gomber (L) 19 26.1 23 20.7 14 12.6 4.10 4.71 4.66 4.72 0.0 -0.1
Burch Smith 29 59.0 59 22.7 29 11.2 6.41 5.37 4.65 4.29 -0.4 -0.6
Game 2
Jack Flaherty 18 96.1 118 29.9 33 8.4 3.27 3.90 3.46 3.36 1.5 1.7
Danny Duffy (L) 24 138.0 126 20.6 63 10.3 4.70 4.74 4.90 4.72 0.8 1.0
Game 3
Luke Weaver 23 121.2 111 21.0 43 8.1 4.66 4.15 4.17 4.29 1.6 0.1
Jakob Junis 21 121.0 114 21.5 37 7.0 4.98 5.22 4.39 4.14 0.0 0.1

Austin Gomber is a lefty whose fastball ended up gaining some velocity last year, which stripped him of the tag “soft-tossing lefty” much to the chagrin of lazy writers tasked to preview the Cardinals and their nondescript back-of-the-rotation pitchers. This season Gomber saw his K-BB% leap in AAA - Memphis this year, back up to levels he hadn’t reached since 2015 when he was tossing balls in A-ball. In limited time in the majors, Gomber seems to have been relatively lucky, as his line-drive rate has been a whopping 31.4% but has been beneficiary of a .271 BABIP. Such things can coexist in small statistical samples, but odds are that something is going to break. Given his repertoire that scouts have tended to label “okay” and that much of his playing time in the majors this year has been pitching from the pen, meaning his average fastball velocity as a starter is likely to be lower than its 93.6 MPH average thus far, Gomber could reasonably expect to see some regression to the mean/his true-talent level.

Jack Flaherty has been every bit as good as his top prospect status could have portended. Solid average fastball, curve, and slider in tow, Flaherty has excelled this season. That probably won’t stop in Kansas City. Luke Weaver—less hyped than Flaherty, but a touted prospect nonetheless—is a four-seam, changeup, curve guy with an occasional cutter mixed in. In 2018, he’s been decent, on pace for a roughly league-average season.

St. Louis Cardinals position players

Name Pos PA HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR rWAR
Name Pos PA HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR rWAR
Matt Carpenter (L) 1B/3B 476 31 77 63 1 .281 .393 .598 .410 161 4.9 5.2
Yadier Molina C 346 15 38 51 4 .285 .329 .472 .342 116 2.0 1.3
Harrison Bader CF 250 6 39 16 12 .269 .333 .396 .318 100 1.9 2.5
Kolten Wong (L) 2B 302 7 30 25 3 .229 .313 .370 .300 88 1.9 2.6
Paul DeJong SS 292 10 41 31 0 .244 .323 .422 .323 103 1.6 1.8
Marcell Ozuna LF 468 13 45 60 2 .272 .317 .394 .308 93 1.2 1.5
José Martínez RF/1B 411 13 39 63 0 .293 .358 .453 .351 122 1.1 0.7
Jedd Gyorko 3B/1B 287 8 29 37 1 .248 .328 .402 .319 100 0.5 1.1
Greg Garcia (L) IF 155 3 14 11 1 .231 .318 .336 .293 83 0.4 0.5
Yairo Muñoz Util 228 6 21 31 5 .286 .351 .432 .335 111 0.4 0.2
Adolis García RF 4 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 -100 -0.1 -0.1
Francisco Peña C 112 2 8 7 1 .198 .232 .274 .215 31 -0.5 -0.8

The Cardinals position players have amassed 16.0 fWAR this season, tied for 11th with the Nationals. They have slashed .249/.320/.404 with a .314 wOBA and 97 wRC+. They’ve gotten where they are thanks in large part to a resurgent Matt Carpenter. On May 15, Carpenter was hitting an unsightly .140/.286/.272. In the 75 games since hitting that nadir, the Cardinals’ leadoff man has been a scorching hot .338/.438/.729, stroking 28 dongs in 336 trips to the plate. This torrid streak has led him from having people wonder if he was done to factoring heavily into the MVP conversation in the National League.

Poll

How will the Royals fare against the Cardinals?

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    Royals sweep
    (20 votes)
  • 9%
    Royals take two of three
    (19 votes)
  • 38%
    Cardinals take two of three
    (77 votes)
  • 41%
    Cardinals sweep
    (83 votes)
199 votes total Vote Now