RECORDS: Cards 46-49 Cubs 49-45
GAMETIMES: Friday 1:20, Saturday 3:05, Sunday 7:05
TV: ABC Friday, CSN and FS1 on Saturday, ESPN Sunday
GET A BRAIN, MORANS: Viva El Birdos
It seems like once a year, the Cubs and Cardinals play a series in an absolute dumpster steambath, either here or in West East St. Louis. So will be the case this weekend, which will see Chicago descend into humidity hell. Which won’t make the traveling support any more pleasant to be around, if that were somehow possible (which it isn’t). Good thing the Cubs can bury the Cardinals for good this season to make us feel better, if they’re not already.
The problems for the Cardinals haven’t changed much since the last time their stench was here in June. It’s kind of a middling offense, it’s just an ok rotation, the bullpen blows, and they can’t pick up the baseball until it stops rolling somewhere.
In the lineup, Matt Carpenter and Jedd Gyorko continue to do the heavy lifting, though Carpenter’s descent into a low-average, high-walk and power guy looks a little funny and he doesn’t actually hit for that much power. Dexter Fowler has battled injury problems all season and just hasn’t been what they thought, and on the wrong side of 30 they might want to get used to that. Yadi has been a giant sucking sound with the bat in his hands. Tommy Pham gives them some pop in limited duty, but is another who is a danger to society with a glove on his hand. This is a pretty slow team with not a ton of pop which means they have to string together hits to score a lot, and it doesn’t happen all that much.
They’ve had remarkable health in the rotation, which is a rarity for them (if we discount Reyes’s preseason injury). Only one start hasn’t been taken by Martinez, Leake, Wainwright, Wacha, or Lynn. Only Leake has what you’d call an acceptable walk-rate, but he’s also the one who doesn’t strike anyone out. Only Wainwright has a bad ERA, the other four are under 4.00. Waino has been getting crushed by BABIP and left-on-base percentage, but his stuff is also starting to fade as he’s three days older than water. Overall, the rotation has been good enough for the Cardinals to be better off than they are.
The pen was evening out a bit, until Trevor Rosenthal lost all concept of the plate, space, and time. His ERA is over five the past month and he’s walking nearly six hitters per nine innings, or nearly 15% of the hitters he sees. Bowman, Cecil, and Here Lyons have picked up the slack, but this is hardly a lockdown unit and you can always count on Mike “How Does This Flashy Thing Work?” Matheney to fuck it up when they can least afford it.
The Cards are annoyingly not just going to collapse, the rotation will hold them around .500 and the rest of the division hasn’t proven it can distance itself too much from the break-even mark. There are too many holes in the lineup though for them to surge, and where there aren’t holes there are those who have seen too many winters. It’s hard to see how a lineup that counts on that many guys over 30 is going to get better as August hits. But you know how this goes, they always pop for a really irritating series win in Chicago that sets the alarms off. Let’s not have it be this one, the Cubs have bigger fish to fry.