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Series Preview: Cardinals at Marlins, August 11-13

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The Cardinals (62-54) head to Miami to take on the Marlins (57-60).

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Also good young outfielders
Also good young outfielders
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
The Schedule

  • Shelby Miller starts opposite Tom Koehler tonight at 6:10 central.
  • Adam Wainwright is set to pitch game two against the recently acquired Jarred Cosart tomorrow at 6:10.
  • Justin Masterson will attempt to right the ship vs Nathan Eovaldi Wednesday, also at 6:10.
The Marlins
Miami continues to hover around .500 and continues to be the kind of team whose hovering around .500 elicits some grunts of minor surprise from fans around the country. It's pretty impressive they've managed a respectable year without Jose Fernandez, and there are a number of things trending in the right direction for the franchise.

Giancarlo Stanton rebounded from a disappointing 2013 to insert himself into the MVP race, while fellow young outfielders Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna are developing nicely. Starting pitchers Nate Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez are improving, and while Jose Fernandez managed to accrue more fWAR in his eight starts than any starter on the club other than the two mentioned above, there's a clear young core in Miami to build around.

The team sits on a precipice. They've made a number of overtures to extend their young superstar hitter, but it seems unlikely that they will be able to so do. He is set to become a free agent in 2017, so the team is looking at a two year window to compete, and possibly only one if they end up trading Stanton in 2016. While I have no inside knowledge of Jeffrey Loria's savings account, this off-season seems to present an opportunity for the Marlins to repeat their brash 2012 foray into the free-agent market. A couple of key pieces, let's say Nelson Cruz to 1B and JJ Hardy to short, would suddenly allow the Marlins to boast a formidable lineup in support of a pitching staff anchored by Jose Fernandez, Nate Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez. They're not far off.

Anyway, Spants did a preview just over a month ago and just about everything still applies. The one new piece since that time will make the start tomorrow. The Marlins traded away an OF prospect without a spot, Jake Marisnick, IF prospect Colin Moran, and a competitive balance pick to the Astros last month to acquire Jarred Cosart and some prospect change. Cosart is an intriguing young pitcher, ranked the #50 prospect in baseball before 2013, but has struggled thus far in his major league career.

The Marlins were generally panned in the media for the trade, but Cosart certainly has talent, and it should be noted that Miami received both Eovaldi and Alvarez in trades over the last couple of years. If their scouts and coaches are as sharp with Cosart as they were with Eovaldi and Alvarez, the Fish might find themselves holding the lone valuable piece in the swap. John Sickels' take seems balanced, and includes this sentence about Cosart: "If a time traveling scout told me that Cosart would flame out due to command problems or injury I'd believe them, but if they told me he developed into a 200-inning-per-year-for-a-decade workhorse I'd believe that too." Look for a hard cut fastball and a good curve with iffy command and hopefully not great results. If he's good, it won't take him long to show up here:

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via Baseball Reference

How many can you name?

The Cardinals

While the Cardinals' offensive struggles have been at the root of the team's poor performance, the performance of the trio of Redbird starters pitching in this series might be the real key down the stretch. Adam Wainwright pitched well last time out, though still not quite to the level he flashed earlier in the season. Another good start would go a long way toward convincing me he's back on track after his recent stretch of poor games.

Shelby Miller has twelve strikeouts against just one walk in his last three outings. He looked good against Boston, and if he can be an effective pitcher down the stretch, it's possible Wainwright, Lynn, Lackey, Miller can bring back the joy of those halycon days before Jaime and Wacha were hurt.

Justin Masterson is the final person of interest here. He was awful against Baltimore, but he's also made just two starts now after a lengthy DL stay. We should expect him to have at least a couple more opportunities to show why the John Mozeliak shopped for him, but with Tyler Lyons and Carlos Martinez pitching very well in AAA right now, Masterson will not stay in the rotation too long if he continues to struggle.

After escaping Baltimore with a series salvaging win in the final game, the Cardinals have it relatively easy the rest of the month. Three games in Miami are followed by seven games at home against the Padres and Reds, a trip East to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and then back home to close out the month with four games in Busch against the Cubs. Just two games back of the Brewers entering play today, the Cardinals are set up well to enter September in a competitive position. We'll see.

Keys to the series

Do better, human beings.

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