The St. Louis Cardinals are loading up the caravan and driving across the state to complete their home and home with the Royals this week. The Cardinals are fighting for their lives for a playoff spot after three years away from the big dance while the Royals are, well, they’re finishing out the season. The Cardinals have been a bit uneven this year because they haven’t really gotten what they’ve expected out of players. Paul Goldschmidt was their big ticket acquisition this year and he’s been fine, but they didn’t acquire him for fine. He’s hit .302/.350/.635 since the start of July, though, so that’s much better. Matt Carpenter has followed up his best season with his worst, which isn’t typically ideal. The starting rotation has, like Goldschmidt, been fine, but that’s not enough. And the bullpen has had its bright spots, but losing Jordan Hicks has hurt even though they’ve gotten some nice performances. This is a solid team, but far from great.
Meet the Cardinals
Royals vs. Cardinals Tale of the Tape
|2019 H2H Wins||1||1|
|Highest fWAR||Hunter Dozier, 3.1||Paul DeJong, 3.1|
Cardinals Projected Lineup
Cardinals Projected Bench
|Randy Arozarena (AAA)||OF||231||.368||.442||.562||8.7%||16.9%||147||---|
Cardinals Key Relievers
Projected Pitching Matchups
Tuesday August 13th - 7:15pm
Jack Flaherty has become the guy in this rotation. He was fantastic last year in his rookie season and has improved his control this year while maintaining his strikeout rate this year. He hasn’t been quite as tough to hit and he’s allowed a few too many home runs, but really who hasn’t? And he’s been at his best over his last six starts where he’s really broken out. He’s gone just 1-1, but through no fault of his own. He’s allowed 19 hits in 38.1 innings with 49 strikeouts and 10 walks and just two home runs. It’s good for a 0.94 ERA since July 7th, so the Royals have that to contend with. He’s a four-seam fastball/slider guy throwing those two pitches about three-fourths of the time. The fastball has been very good, but the slider is just disgusting with a 47.8 percent whiff rate and just 83.6 MPH exit velocity against. This hasn’t been the case lately in his crazy great stretch, but he’s a real victim of the times through the order penalty with a .443 OPS allowed the first time through followed by .777 the second time and .935 the third time. Also, as it pertains to this game, he’s been considerably worse away from home with a 4.76 ERA and way more walks on the road than at home.
The Royals counter the Cardinals best starter with probably their worst in Glenn Sparkman. Since his shutout against the White Sox, things haven’t gone well. He’s posted a 10.07 ERA with 14 strikeouts and nine walks in 19.2 innings over four starts. He’s allowed 31 hits and seven home runs in that time with just a seven percent swinging strike rate. It’s rough out there for him. And even his great home numbers took a hit when he gave up eight runs in five innings to the Indians at the end of July. The Cardinals don’t hit a ton of home runs and they don’t really hit that well in general, so maybe he can get back on track here, but they have enough good hitters who could produce that it just doesn’t seem like he’s a good bet against really anyone at this point.
Wednesday August 14th - 7:15pm
Dakota Hudson pitched exclusively out of the bullpen in his 26 games in 2018 but has been a starter in 2019. The issue is he still doesn’t strike out enough batters and he still walks too many. And as a starter, he’s been very hittable with 134 hits allowed in his 121.1 innings. Unlike Flaherty, Hudson relies heavily on a sinker that does get a lot of ground balls with a 57.1 percent ground ball rate this year. The problem is he also allows a lot of hits on it. Opponents are hitting .326 with a .516 SLG against it and he’s only gotten whiffs on 13.3 percent of swings. His slider has been much better and has helped a bit with strikeouts, but he throws the sinker so much that he gives up a lot on it. What will help him in this one is he has been pretty good against right-handed bats and not so great against lefties. The Royals don’t have much from the left side, though, so if he can navigate the big right-handed bats, he might be able to have some success. A big key against Hudson is to get to him early. He’s allowed a .291/.401/.500 line on his first 25 pitches and .326/.392/.493 on his next 25. Then he settles in. That actually helps the Royals since they have a legitimate top four or five in the order, so maybe they can attack early.
Brad Keller was really disappointing in his start against the Tigers. He’d been ptiching so well and throwing so many strikes that you felt like his now upper-90s fastball would overpower a very weak lineup. And he didn’t throw strikes and ended up giving up 10 hits in six innings with five runs allowed. He did get 13 swinging strikes, which was his second straight game in double digits, so that’s a good sign. I like to point to his last start against the Cardinals when he gave up two runs over seven innings as the turning point of his season. Since that time, he’s thrown two-thirds of his pitches for strikes and posted a 3.73 ERA in 94 innings. He’s been a different pitcher than the guy last year, but he’s found a way to be pretty effective. No, he’s not an ace or a two or probably even a three, but you can win with a rotation with Keller in it if he’s not the best you have and I think he’s proven that this year.
The Royals are playing pretty poorly, though they did finish their bad road trip on a high note with two blowout wins. With Hunter Dozier and Jorge Soler hitting as well as any duo, the Royals are tough right now. I think they end up splitting the series, but two-game sets are so tough to figure.
The I-70 Series is here. How does it end up?
This poll is closed