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Series preview: Brewers at Cardinals, Masterson and UPDATED Lackey debuts, August 1-3

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Cardinals new and old battle for first place against the Milwaukee Brewers as Adam Wainwright leads things off, Justin Masterson makes his first start as a Cardinals player and John Lackey finishes the series on Sunday.

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Hit him second
Hit him second
Denis Poroy

UPDATE: John Lackey to start Sunday

Editor's Note: The original post had Lance Lynn listed as the starter on Sunday. The post has been updated to reflect John Lackey taking Lynn's spot on Sunday.

Schedule

  • Wily Peralta and Adam Wainwright face off at 7:15 (CST) tonight, August 1st.
  • Jimmy Nelson and Justin Masterson on Saturday August 2nd at 6:15.
  • Kyle Lohse and John Lackey on Sunday August 3rd at 1:15,

Last Time

The Brewers faced off against the Cardinals right before the All-Star break with the Cardinals taking two of three. The series preview included an interview with Noah Jarosh of Brew Crew Ball.

Storylines

  • Justin Masterson makes his Cardinals debut on Saturday. Aaron Finkel wrote about expectations for the Cardinals' new sinkerballing righthander. Masterson has yet to make a start in the majors since going down with a knee injury a month ago. Expect to see a sinking fastball, a very good slider, and high socks. He has had walk issues this season and has had trouble against lefthanders during his career, but Milwaukee is a group of free-swinging righthanders which could play to Masterson's strength. As Aaron wrote, "This is a guy who flashed excellent strikeout numbers while leading the league in groundballs over the last two years. That's a rare combination teeming with potential."
  • UPDATE: John Lackey makes his debut on Sunday. Lackey has been solid this season for the Red Sox with a 3.60 ERA and a 3.56 FIP in just over 137 innings. He is familiar with A.J. Pierzynski so expect him behind the plate. Starting Lackey against the Brewers prevents an awkward matchup against his former Red Sox teammates. John Lackey throws a four seam fastball roughly half of the time, averaging around 93 miles per hour. His second pitch is a slider, but also works in a two-seam fastball and curve. The Cardinals' new acquisitions will be thrown right into a tight a pennant race with the first-place Brewers.
  • Jimmy Nelson attempts to perform better against the Cardinals than he did on July 12th when the Cardinals knocked him around for eight runs and he failed to make ti through the fifth. Nelson has pitched much better in his two most recent starts, striking out 11 and walking just three in 13 innings for two quality starts.
  • Adam Wainwright looks to continue to suppress offenses with less than his best stuff. He went seven innings in his last outing against the Brewers, but followed that up with a poor outing against the Rays (6 runs, 4 walks) and a solid outing (0 R) against the Cubs while still struggling with walks (3BB). Wainwright has not struck out more than five hitters in his last five starts, but continues to sport a sterling ERA (1.92) and FIP (2.63).
  • The Cardinals were not the only team to make deadline moves as the Brewers brought in Gerardo Parra from Arizona. Parra is a solid all-around player known for solid defense. He has not hit well this season (81 wRC+) and his role for the Brewers is not yet clear with Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez and Khris Davis in the Milwaukee outfield.
  • After trading away Allen Craig, Oscar Taveras is the de facto right fielder for the Cardinals. He responded in a big way on Thursday, homering in his first at bat. His performance down the stretch will be a key to whether the Cardinals offense can play better than they have shown thus far.
  • Just like the series before the All-Star Break, the Cardinals enter the series two games behind the Brewers. They took the first two games of the series before dropping the third and going into the break a game back of the Brewers. A sweep would allow them to overtake the Brewers before the revenge reunion series with the Red Sox that begins on Tuesday.

Narrative

If the Cardinals go on a run, the narrative the rest of the season will be about these past few days, about the trades that transformed the Cardinals. Ignoring the narrative is a bit much, but at least discount it. The Cardinals have really good players that were bound to playe better. Matt Adams has come on strong. Matt Holliday looks to be heating up. Kolten Wong is already starting to put it together. Matt Carpenter and Jhonny Peralta have played well all season long, and Oscar Taveras was bound to hit better regardless of Craig's presence. The Cardinals' pitching additions should stabilize a rotation decimated by injuries. The trades were not made to serve as a wake-up call. They were made to make the team better and Justin Masterson and John Lackey will do just that. We will remember these trades for what Joe Kelly and especially Allen Craig have meant to the Cardinals as well as the opportunity it afforded Oscar Taveras, but the act of making the trades does not make the Cardinals a better team. The players, both new and old, will shape the way this Cardinals season is viewed, and their play, not their attitudes will determine how far the Cardinals go.

Keys to the Series

  • Mind your manners
  • Battle for first place
  • Whichever team has the most fun and scores the most runs wins


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