Series Preview: Cardinals at Phillies

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The Saint Louis Cardinals are the National League’s answer to the New York Yankees, the historically best franchise in the league. The Cards have won 11 World Series championships, 19 National League pennants, a dozen division titles, and have been to the playoffs as a Wildcard another 3 times.

In 2015, the Cardinals are unsurprisingly the top team in the NL once again. Their 43-23 record has them 4 1/2 games ahead of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the NL Central, and those Pirates are the closest that any team in the entire league is to the Redbirds at this stage of the season.

More from That Balls Outta Here

At the opposite end of the standings and competitive spectrum we have the local nine, the formerly Fightin’ Phils. Our Phillies heroes sit at 23-46. They just ended a 9-game losing streak, and have the National League’s worst record. On paper, this weekend series looks very much like a mismatch, and not one that will be in the home team’s favor down at Citizens Bank Park.

Offensively, the Cards don’t overwhelm you, they just do a lot of little things right. This season their attack has been led by shortstop Jhonny Peralta who is hitting to a .311/.371/.502 slash line with 10 homers and 35 RBI. Their 3rd baseman, Matt Carpenter, is hitting .291 with a 379 on-base percentage, and has 8 homers and 32 RBI.

The Phillies will miss the Cardinals top overall hitter, one of the best in the business, outfielder Matt Holliday. He is on the DL with a grade two right quad strain. The Cards also lost slugging 1st baseman Matt Adams for most of the season to a quad strain. Ace starting pitcher Adam Wainwright is lost, possibly for the season, with a torn Achilles, and starter Lance Lynn is out with a forearm injury.

All of those injuries would devastate many teams. Not the Cards, who just keep on chugging along at the top of the league. The best organization in the NL continues to teach all the others, the Phils especially, how it should be done. There has been a recent black eye, as the organization was involved in a scandal involving stolen internet information. Checkout the below video for more.

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Friday: RHP Phillippe Aumont (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs RHP Tyler Lyons (1-0, 5.00 ERA) – the Phillies are giving Aumont another shot. For his career to this point, he has been extremely disappointing at the Major League level, whether as a starter or reliever. However, he has pitched very well at AAA this year, and considering the other arms the team has run out at the back-end of its rotation, he certainly has earned one more shot. It may be his last, so he needs to cash in on the opportunity. Expect walks, as he still had some control issues at Lehigh Valley. Lyons is starting due to the Cards injuries, and is easily the weak link in their rotation at this point. If the Phillies offense is going to be effective, it needs to be on Friday night.

Saturday: RHP Aaron Harang (4-8, 3.24 ERA) vs. John Lackey (5-4, 3.59 ERA) – this matchup is between a pair of grizzled veterans, with the 37-year old Harang taking on the 36-year old Lackey. Both pitchers have been mostly effective, keeping their teams in the game in most starts. After doing it just once in his first 11 Phils starts, Harang has allowed at least 4 earned runs in each of his last three outings, and has watched his ERA soar from 2.02 to 3.24 in that time. With a career 4.17 ERA over 14 seasons, there unfortunately will be more regression to a mean coming for the man I like to call “Droopy Dog” (see old-time cartoon character here.) Lackey is coming off a solid outing vs Minnesota, which followed his two worst starts of the year.

Sunday: LHP Adam Morgan (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs RHP Michael Wacha (9-2, 2.48 ERA) – the Phillies lefty ace Cole Hamels appeared to be the victim of a “you’ve been traded” prank, with his locker cleaned out on arrival at the park on Thursday. Turns out, he cleaned it out as a prank on reporters. However, he has been backed up from his normal turn on Friday night with a hamstring issue. Hamels should return for a start next Wednesday. Needing an arm for Sunday, the Phillies have announced that the 25-year old Morgan will make his first MLB appearance. He was 0-6 with a 4.74 ERA and a 33-27 K:BB ratio for Lehigh Valley in AAA. He allowed 81 hits in 68.1 innings. Wacha has been nothing less than spectacular with Saint Louis, the active ace of their staff. This is the definition of a mismatch, in the visitors favor.

SERIES KEYS

Get to Lyons – the Phillies haven’t done much hitting against anyone this season. But the youngster Lyons is as good a candidate for them to lay a beating on as anyone they have faced in a while. In fact, if they can’t get to him, the next two Cardinals starters might make it tough to avoid a sweep.

Aumont Stepping Up – this it is for Aumont. He has been given what is likely his final shot at a big league starting rotation due both to injuries and inconsistency from the current Phils starters, but also to his own effectiveness at AAA. He needs to limit the free passes, and pitch with confidence, proving that he belongs. If he fails, his future will lie in the bullpen, possibly back in the minors.

Score Runs – this was one of my keys the last time that I did a series writeup, for the Pirates series last week. It will likely remain a key for the offensively challenged Phillies. They scored just two on Thursday, on a Ryan Howard homer. They have to find a way to reach base, hit, and score more consistently. Chase Utley finally breaking loose would be a big help.

Friday, June 19vs. St. Louis7:05 PMNBC 101210 WPHT, 94 WIP, WTTM 1680 (Sp.)
Saturday, June 20vs. St. Louis7:05 PMTCN1210 WPHT, 94 WIP, WTTM 1680 (Sp.)
Sunday, June 21vs. St. Louis1:35 PMCSN1210 WPHT, WTTM 1680 (Sp.), 94 WIP

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE for Citizens Bank Park in South Philly this weekend

Friday

A chance of showers, mainly before noon. Patchy fog before 9am. Otherwise, partly sunny, with a high near 88. Northwest wind 6 to 11 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.

Friday Night

Partly cloudy, with a low around 65. Northeast wind 6 to 8 mph.

Saturday

A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 82. East wind 6 to 8 mph becoming southeast in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Saturday Night – ALERT

Showers likely. Some of the storms could produce heavy rainfall. Cloudy, with a low around 72. South wind around 7 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.

Sunday – ALERT

Showers and thunderstorms likely. Some of the storms could produce heavy rainfall. Cloudy, with a high near 84. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New rainfall amounts between a half and three quarters of an inch possible.


INJURIES / DISABLED LISTS

CARDINALSDateStatusDue BackInjuryNotes
Adams, Matt (1B)06/0560-day DLPossibly late SeptemberStrained right quadUnderwent surgery May 29; transferred to 60-day DL on June 5.
Holliday, Matt (LF)06/0915-day DLTBDRight quad strainExited game early June 8; placed on 15-day DL on June 9.
Lynn, Lance (P)06/1615-day DLPossibly June 23-25Right forearm strainResumed throwing June 16; expected to throw off mound June 17-21.
Rosenthal, Trevor (P)06/16Any dayDay-to-dayRight arm sorenessUnavailable to pitch June 15-16.
Wainwright, Adam (P)05/01Out for Season2016Recovering from April 2015 Achilles surgeryUnderwent successful surgery on April 30; transferred to 60-day DL on April 30.
Walden, Jordan (P)06/1415-day DLPossibly before All-Star breakRight biceps discomfortHas resumed playing catch as of June 14 update.

PHILLIESDateStatusDue BackInjuryNotes
Billingsley, Chad (P)06/1515-day DLPossibly JulyGrade 2 right lat strainSent on Triple-A rehab assignment June 15.
Hamels, Cole (P)06/18Any dayLikely week of June 22Right hamstring strainScratched from scheduled start June 19.
Hollands, Mario (P)04/20Out for Season2016Recovering from April 2015 Tommy John surgeryUnderwent Tommy John surgery April 8.
Lee, Cliff (P)04/0560-day DLPossibly 2015Left common flexor tendon tearShut down from throwing, placed on 60-day DL on March 16.
Pettibone, Jonathan (P)05/0960-day DLTBDRecovering from June 2014 right elbow surgeryTransferred to 60-day DL on April 28.
Williams, Jerome (P)06/1715-day DLPossibly early JulyLeft hamstring strainPlaced on 15-day DL on June 17.
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