Cardinals vs Brewers Preview: April 28-30

You can take the boy out of the ballet academy... - Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

St Louis (14-12) hosts the NL Central leading Milwaukee Brewers (18-7) for a trio of games to close out April.

Schedule

Mise-en-Scene

This series presents an excellent opportunity for the Cardinals to make up a game or 3 in the division, as the Brewers are expected to be without 2 of their top players, Ryan Braun and Jean Segura. Braun has a strained intercostal muscle and is expected to miss several days. Prior to the injury on Saturday, Braun inadvertently hit Segura in the head with his bat while stretching on the clubhouse steps. Like Braun, Segura avoided anything major, but is not expected to appear in the upcoming series.

Aramis Ramirez, Jonathan Lucroy, and Carlos Gomez are still excellent hitters, and Khris Davis' power showed up in the last week (3HR), but the bottom of the lineup will be particularly weak, featuring punchless utility players Jeff Bianchi and Elian Herrera.

Edit:

What to Watch for

The brand new shiny Cardinals! They're still in their original packaging! Take a look at these pieces on Randal Grichuk (link) and Greg Garcia (link) from this spring. It's pretty clear that Grichuk will simply take over Sugar Shane Robinson's role of defensive replacement and RH PH, but I'm very interested to see how Garcia gets used in relation to Daniel Descalso.

It will be exciting to see what kind of arsenal Michael Wacha employs tonight. In last week's game against the Mets, Wacha had electrifying early success while nearly abandoning his esteemed changeup entirely. His curveball was the sharpest it's ever been as he struck out 9 batters in 3 innings before losing his command in the windy Citi Field conditions. I expect to see the changeup back in the fold, but his curve appears like it might be ready for its close-up.

Pitching against Wacha, Yovani Gallardo is off to an excellent start (1.42 ERA) after 3 straight years of declining peripherals. His K-rate is plummeting this season, but so have his walks and homers allowed. This fangraphs article suggested a change in approach, but I don't think that his usage data bears this out. It's early yet, and tonight's game won't make any firm declarations either way, but it's something to keep an eye on. We can say definitively that his 89% strand rate won't hold season-long. Not even Joe Kelly could do that!

The Milwaukee bullpen has been terrific so far. Francsico Rodriguez, Will Smith, Tyler Thornburg, Brandon Kintzler, and Zach Duke have combine for over 50 innings while allowing all of 4 runs.

Speaking of the bullpen, Trevor Rosenthal's fastball velocity has been the subject of some minor consternation in this young season. While he's not quite back to where he was last year, he breached 99 in 2 of his last 3 games, and his game average is climbing back well over 97. Look for that to continue to improve.


Who the hell is that?

That's Scooter Gennett! Let's run down the pesky player checklist to see if Scooter fits the mold:

Short and skinny: 

Gets an irksome number of hits: 

Plays up the middle and is annoyingly cromulent at it: 

Has no or little power: 

Isn't even that fast and oh god that's irritating about him too: 

Oh hell did we just WALK him?: X No. Probably not.

Bonus round

Plays on a division rival: 

Is fucking named Scooter: 

So yes, he has strong pesk about him. He has no particularly good tools except hitting the ball with his bat, and he's pretty good at that. Currently, he's on the heavy side of a platoon with Rickie Weeks, who recently probably said of the situation: "I didn't think so much of him at first. But now I get it, he's everything I'm not."

To be fair to Scooter (gah!), he actually has a little bit of power, but won't be truly consistently irritating unless he can develop a better eye. At the moment, he's probably just good enough that we'll all remember just how annoying it was the handful times he did contribute against the Cardinals in key moments. Won't that just be the worst?

Keys to the Series

  • Please don't let Scooter beat the Cardinals
  • Or anyone else
  • But especially Scooter
X
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