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Series Preview: Cardinals vs Padres, August 14-17

The 63-56 Cardinals host the 57-62 Padres

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Denis Poroy

  • John Lackey and Eric Stults open the series tonight at 7:15 (all times central).
  • Lance Lynn will pitch against Tyson Ross Friday at 7:15.
  • Shelby Miller gets the start against Jesse Hahn Saturday at 6:15.
  • Adam Wainwright and Odrisamer Despaigne will finish the set Sunday at 1:15.

Before the Cardinals played the Padres at the end of July, I wrote that the Padres had a historically bad offense. If they were able to keep "up" their terrible team-wide output, they would have the worst offense in baseball since 1972. The good news for the Padres is that they've been considerably better of late. Over the last 14 days, the team has a 114 wRC+, and 111 going back 30 days.

Some of that bounce must certainly be regression to the mean -- a historically bad offense is always unlikely to really be quite that bad -- but there have been three developments that have improved the offense in a likely sustainable manner:

  • Tommy Medica is now receiving regular playing time (often in LF), and while he's unlikely to be a star, he's quite likely to be a solid regular. Not the kind of guy you'd expect to see on the worst offense in baseball since 1972. John Sickels over at  the always insightful minor league ball did a nice write-up of Medica recently here.
  • Jedd Gyorko has an excellent rookie season last year, signed a nice contract extension in the off-season, and then was awful early this season. He spent most of June and July on the DL with plantar fasciitis, and returned July 28. He has a .333/.387/.526 line in the fifteen games since.
  • Yangervis Solarte came over from the Yankees in the Chase Headley trade. Since then he's hit .282/.370/.423. He is unlikely to continue to hit at that level, but he is hitting well not and wasn't a part of the team's early struggles.

edit: Rymer Liriano was recently called-up. Read about him here.

There have been others performing well (Yonder Alonso and Will Venable have been especially hot), but it's the three players above who have shaped the Padres' offense into something different from what it was earlier in the year.

The Cardinals saw how good Tyson Ross is and how good Jesse Hahn can be last month. They hit Despaigne well, however. Tonight's starter, the LHP Eric Stults, has bounced around a lot in his major league career, and his identical 4.76 ERA and FIP this season isn't likely to prevent him from bouncing around in the future.

The Cards are coming off a pair of series losses to the Orioles and Marlins. The offense is still scuffling and the pitching is still more concerning than earlier in the year, but Mike Matheny wants you to know that they're trying, so please don't pick on him or his friends. It's ugly. And yet, El Birdos are still just two games back in the division. The Pirates are half game up, and the Reds are hanging around 3.5 back of St Louis with a series looming between them after the Padres. Winning three or four here would be nice, but the Padres run differential for the year is only two worse than the Cards. What can we reasonably expect?

I look at the standings and am reminded of Budd in Kill Bill volume 2:

"That woman, deserves her revenge and... we deserve to die. But then again, so does she. So, I guess we'll just see. Won't we?"

Keys to the Series:
  • We'll see.


Editor's Note: Oh, hi there. It's me, Aaron Finkel. I'm here today to tell you about an exciting new opportunity offered by FANDUEL. SB Nation's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $18,000 Fantasy Baseball league for tonight's MLB games. It's $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Jump in now. Here's the FanDuel link for today's games.