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Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Phillies welcome in the Saint Louis Cardinals for three late-May games

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The Saint Louis Cardinals visit Philly for three late-May games

Saint Louis Cardinals (26-26) of the NL Central Division in a three-game series scheduled to begin on Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park.
The Phillies remain on top of the NL East Division standings by 1.5 games, two in the loss column, over the Atlanta Braves. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have been slumping, falling to four games off the pace set by their arch-rival Chicago Cubs.
Earlier this month, the Phillies took two of three games from the Cards in a series at Busch Stadium. Saint Louis won the opener in a 6-0 shutout, then the Phils stormed back for 11-1 and 5-0 wins to take the series.
After a victory on May 1 over the Washington Nationals, the Cardinals sat 10 games over the .500 mark and three games up in their division. But since that time they have collapsed, dropping 16 of their last 22 games.
The main culprit has been their anemic offensive attack, which has put more than four runs on the scoreboard just nine times in that stretch. However, their pitching staff has also allowed the opposition to score in double-digits four times during what has turned into a nightmarish month of May.
The Cardinals scoring offense has produced similar results to the Phillies over the full course of the season. They are averaging exactly five runs scored per game, while the Phillies average is at 4.96 per game.
Saint Louis is 7th and the Phillies 8th ranked in the National League in OPS, and the Cards have slugged three more home runs. They are also much more prone to run, ranking in a tie for 2nd in the NL in stolen bases with 30, while the Phillies 17 steals puts them near the bottom of the league.
The Cardinals pitching staff is 5th in the NL in batting average against (.241), far better than the Phillies staff (.259) rank of 14th in the league. Neither staff is particularly overpowering, with the Phillies hurlers ranking 12th and the Cardinals pitchers 13th in the NL in strikeouts.
I’ve been talking for a couple of weeks now about this crucible of a schedule stretch which the Phillies are currently navigating their way through. To this point they have held their own, going 8-6 against tough opposition over the last two weeks.
This grueling stretch of games against talented teams will head back out on the road following this brief home series with Saint Louis. The Phillies will travel out to face the National League’s top team and the winners of the last two NL pennants, the Los Angeles Dodgers, over the weekend. The stretch will then end early next week with three games at improved San Diego.
Winning series. That’s what it continues to be all about for these 2019 Phillies. Taking at least two of three here against Saint Louis will be important before heading out to the west coast.

SAINT LOUIS CARDINALS

TOP LINEUP THREATS

  • Paul Goldschmidt: The 31-year-old first baseman was traded from Arizona to Saint Louis back in December for three prospects and a draft pick. He is slashing .264/.357/.433 and is second on the club with 10 homers. An NL All-Star for the last six straight seasons. Runner-up for the NL MVP in both 2013 and 2015, 3rd in voting in 2017. Three-time Gold Glover and four-time Silver Slugger Award winner.
  • Marcell Ozuna: The 28-year-old right fielder was acquired during the Miami Marlins fire sale back in December 2017 for four prospects. He is slashing .230/.316/.508 and leads the club with 14 homers and 45 RBIs.
  • Paul DeJong: A 25-year-old shortstop who was runner-up for the 2017 NL Rookie of the Year Award, DeJong has broken out as a potential All-Star this season. He is slashing .295/.396/.518 and has been the club’s most consistent offensive performer, leading the team with 26 extra-base hits and 39 runs scored.

SPOTLIGHT PLAYER

Yadier Molina: The perennial NL All-Star and possible future Hall of Famer turnes 37-years-old in mid-July. He has been an NL All-Star in nine of the last 10 seasons, and won eight Gold Gloves at catcher over the last 11 years. Molina is hitting .317 over the course of his big-league career against the Phillies, and his 11 homers against them are the most he has hit against any non-divisional opponent. He is hitting .309 with seven of those homers coming at Citizens Bank Park.

SCHEDULED STARTING PITCHERS

  • Adam Wainwright (37): 4-4, 4.82 ERA, 1.414 WHIP, 51 hits allowed over 52.1 IP including 8 HR with a 41/23 K:BB
  • Genesis Cabrera (22): a native of the Dominican Republic, this will be his big-league debut.
  • Dakota Hudson (24): 3-3, 4.22 ERA, 1.631 WHIP, 63 hits over 53.1 IP including 9 HR with a 38/24/K:BB

KEY BENCH & BULLPEN PIECES

  • Harrison Bader: 25-year-old righty bat outfielder slashing .265/.379/.449
  • Matt Wieters: 33-year-old backup catcher formerly starter with Orioles is slashing .333/.346/.458
  • Michael Wacha: 27-year-old righty was just moved to the bullpen after making nine starts
  • Jordan Hicks: 22-year-old second-year righty has 10 Saves as the closer, with a 4.24 ERA and 1.235 WHIP
  • John Gant: 26-year-old righty having strong season with 1.26 ERA, 0.698 WHIP, 31/8 K:BB over 28.2 IP
  • John Brebbia: 29-year old righty also strong with a 1.61 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, 33/10 K:BB over 28 IP
  • Andrew Miller: 34-year-old lefty famous with Indians, 4.19 ERA, 1.397 WHIP, 25/10 K:BB over 19.1 IP

THE SKIPPER

Mike Shildt is in his second season at the helm after taking over around the mid-point of last season. He took over from longtime skipper Mike Matheny with the club just a game over the .500 mark in third place and 7.5 out in the division. Club went 41-28 under his guidance, finishing just three games out of an NL Wildcard berth.
The 50-year old Schildt was a scout and minor league coach in the Cardinals organziation. He was given a chance to  manage with their short-season affiliates back in 2009 and rose through their organizational and coaching ranks, becoming third base coach in Saint Louis in 2017. Schildt was named the interim manager after Matheny was fired, and then in late August 2018 was given a three-year contract and became the permanent skipper.

PHILLY SERIES WEATHER REPORT

This could be a touch-and-go series as far as the Philadelphia weather goes. There is a 90% chance of precipitation on Tuesday and 80% on Wednesday, dropping to 40% or less on Thursday. There is a strong chance of storms just prior to game time for Tuesday’s opener, and then a 90-95% chance of thunderstorms between 7-9pm.
For Wednesday, there is a 60% chance of storms at the scheduled first-pitch time after an afternoon of rain. However, once that system passes the chances or precipitation drop to 15% by 8pm. Thursday looks fine at this point, but with a chance of afternoon storms.

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