Adam Wainwright. Image Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
After a rare visit by the Seattle Mariners, the Philadelphia Phillies will host a more familiar opponent this weekend. The St. Louis Cardinals will come to Citizens Bank Park for a three game set.
The last time they met
When the Phillies visited St. Louis in June, the outlook for the season was a little brighter. The Phillies were coming off a sweep of the Braves, and after winning the first two games against the Cardinals, they actually recorded a five-game win streak.
The good times did not last. The Phillies lost the final two games of the series, beginning a stretch where they lost ten out of twelve games. Any optimism generated by that brief hot stretch was quickly forgotten.
What’s new with the Cardinals?
At 69-57, the Cardinals are in second place in the National League Central, and tied atop the Wild Card standings. They’re coming into the game hot, having won their last four games and seven of their last eight.
The Cardinals offense has not been that productive for most of the season, as they’re only 28th in runs scored. But that appears to be changing lately, as they’ve averaged over five runs a game over their last ten games.
Cardinals player who isn’t entirely horrible
Jhonny Peralta. Image Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Throughout his twelve-year career, Jhonny Peralta has been known more for his oddly spelled first name than his play. But this season, he’s arguably been the team’s MVP.
With 17 home runs, he’s on pace to set a career high, and he’s having arguably his best defensive season at shortstop.
Cardinals player who is horrible
With a .262 on-base percentage and only two home runs, Tavares is not supplying the type of offense that teams typically expect to get from a corner outfield position.
Starting pitcher report
A quick look at the starting pitchers who will get the ball for the Cardinals in this series
Shelby Miller. Image Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Miller got Cardinals fans excited with an outstanding rookie year in 2013. He hasn’t quite been able to match that success in his second season.
Miller has had an especially rough time of it lately. He’s allowed nine earned runs in his last two starts. When he faced the Phillies earlier in the year, he allowed four runs in 6.1 innings in a Cardinals loss.
Wainwright has been one of the best pitchers in baseball. At 15-7 with a 2.40 ERA, he’s on the short list of Cy Young Award candidates. (But he’s not going to win unless Clayton Kerhsaw gets abducted by aliens or something.)
In his previous start against the Phillies, he outdueled Cole Hamels, pitching the Cardinals to a 4-1 victory.
Justin Masterson. Image Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
Masterson doesn’t seem like the type of pitcher a contending team should have in their rotation. Yes, he’s had success in the past, and even made the 2013 All-Star team, but that success hasn’t carried over into 2014.
He began the season with the Indians and pitched horribly. He was sent to the Cardinals in a midseason trade, but the change of league hasn’t helped him improve.
Reason for Optimism
Looking for a reason to be positive about the Phillies? Ben Revere seems determined to win a batting title. Sure, he has no power, and rarely walks, but it is kind of fun watching him record single after single.
Reason for Pessimism
Kyle Kendrick. Image Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
This seems like a mismatch, but the Cardinals aren’t unbeatable. I mean, they do have Masterson in their rotation. I have a feeling that the Phillies will find a way to pull out a win in one of the games.