Series Preview - Cardinals (37-28) @ Red Sox (34-30)
Only 3 series left before we begin the Hell stretch of our schedule. The Cardinals will be the best team we have seen in a while, so this will be a good litmus test for where we're at.
Friday, June 17th 7:10 PM - Adam Wainwright (5-4 2.84 ERA) vs Michael Wacha (4-1 2.33 ERA)
Saturday, June 18th 7:15 PM - Dakota Hudson (4-3 3.29 ERA) vs Kutter Crawford (1-1 5.74 ERA)
Sunday, June 19th 1:35 PM - Andre Pallante (2-0 1.04 ERA) vs Nick Pivetta (6-5 3.50 ERA)
Whenever I write out the matchups, I always start to form what the series might look like in my head. And it seemed like for the past couple of series I have been largely spot on. Apparently, that is really easy when the opposing pitchers belong in AAA, and their best batters barely break the Mendoza line. Not so much the case with these Cardinals. This is a GOOD baseball team. They stand out as the best team in the NL Central, which is kinda like being the tallest preschooler. They also are super close to qualifying for AARP, with the likes of Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina, and Albert Pujols being their headliners. The bulk of their offense is provided by a couple of guys that made a name for themselves with other teams in MVP Candidate (probably favorite at this point) Paul Goldschmidt (.347/.430/.640 16 HR, 56 RBI) and Nolan Arenado (.271/.342/.467 7 HR, 26 RBI).
Tonight, we will see Adam Wainwright. He is 40 and still manages to be one of the best pitchers in the league. I mean, the guy threw 206 innings in his age 39 season, finishing 7th in the Cy Young voting, and came out of it thinking about retiring. He still has it, and that's bad news for the Sox. How has he done it? Well, he's an offspeed pitcher, so he isn't going to overpower you. Instead, he can locate to get you to swing, and at best hope for a ball to squeak through. He keeps his breaking balls low, and gets you to chase the fastball high. His pitching heatmap should be shown to any pitcher that leans towards throwing their breaking ball first:
Obviously Story has a lot of experience against him, coming from the NL, but with very little success 2 for 14 with 5 Ks. Excluding him and our pitchers, we have 24 at-bats against him with only 5 hits. Xander and JD combine to be 3 for 14 with 5 Ks, so not much better than Story. It's going to be a grind. We'll need a strong performance from Wacha going up against his former teammates. Wacha spent 7 years in the majors with St Louis. Many would have called them his best years, but those people haven't seen him on the Sox. He is a better pitcher now than he was with the Cardinals (except maybe 2015, his one ASG selection). Obviously, being teammates with these guys for so long, he hasn't seen many of them in live games. But, he has seen the big 2 of their lineup 28 times. Goldschmidt is 2 for 11, Arenado 6 for 13 with 3 home runs. Having good numbers against Goldschmidt is a good start, but if Arenado can tag him I struggle to believe our offense will be able to play catchup. Hopefully this turns into a pitchers duel, I got the under.
Kutter Crawford gets another shot on Saturday. He is coming off of his best big league appearance, going 5 and only allowing 1 hit. He needs to improve control, as he did walk 4, but he countered that with 7 strikeouts. He kept his curveball down, and his fastball was blowing by batters. It does worry me that this is such a veteran lineup, and I don't expect Crawford to go deep into this game, so we will maybe pair him up with Houck? We will get Dakota Hudson. I will not tell a lie, if you said to me "Who is Dakota Hudson" I would say that she starred in the 50 Shades franchise. That's Dakota Johnson, and one thing she has in common with Dakota Hudson is I have seen neither of them perform, but understand it usually involves them getting smacked around quite a bit:
He doesn't strike people out, and like Wainwright he pitches to weak contact. He is less successful however, because when guys do barrel the ball up it fucking soars. No experience outside of Story, but this seems like a guy JD will be able to figure out. Fastball at 92, a slider at fucking 89, and a curve at 82. He'll miss a spot and leave one in the zone to the meat of our lineup and we will have to take advantage. Over in game 2.
Lastly we come up to Pivetta v Pallante. Pallante is still technically a prospect, drafted in the 4th round back in 2019, but he is really showing out in his first season in the big leagues. Of 115 batted balls, only 3 have been barreled. That is good for a 2.6 barrel%, landing him in the 94th percentile of all pitchers. He doesn't throw anything crazy, a fastball at 95 coming in 65% of the time, a slider 18% of the time at 86, and a rolling curve at 76. I don't really understand how he has been so good, his fastball is directly down the dick, his slider comes in over the middle, but his curveball does stay low. That being said, he'll likely just be an opener, so we will see a lot of bullpen this game. Pivetta has been Pivetta. I won't even get into the numbers, because they don't matter. He has been pitching his BALLS off. coming off 8 innings of 1 earned, I expect him to really pull this team to a series victory in the closing game. Sox in the finale.