The Cardinals keep going along at a mediocre rate. The Pirates took two of three and the team is now back to .500 with a 16-16 record. The latest they have been under .500 since ending the 2007 below .500 happened in 2014 when they were below .500 on May 12, 2014. The team is approaching dangerous territory. Fortunately, the Cardinals travel out west to the play the Angels, who they should destroy.
The Angels best player is Mike Trout, who is absolutely spectacular. The Angels second-best player is Kole Calhoun, who is pretty good. I don't know who the Angels third-best player and that is a problem for them. A little bit ago, it might have been Andrelton Simmons, but he's not out for a good portion of the season, replaced by Cliff Pennington, and maybe even Brendan Ryan. It perhaps should be Albert Pujols, who still has solid walk and strikeout rates, but has fallen from greatness to merely slightly above average as a hitter.
Yunel Escobar is decent enough. C.J. Cron probably is not terrible. Daniel Nava used to be able to do a few things, but Johnny Giovatella and Geovony Soto are not very good. Regarding the Angels offense, Dave Cameron recently wrote,
So far, the Angels offense has rated as one of the 10 worst in baseball. Yes, their 99 wRC+ suggests that their hitters have been average-ish, but they've been the worst baserunning club in baseball by a mile, which is one of the reasons they're only scoring 3.75 runs per game. The team's offense projects to be okay, primarily thanks to the one superstar hitter they have carrying them up from the depths, but for the Angels to contend in 2016, they were always going to need the run prevention to carry the day.
And that run prevention has taken some hits of late. Garret Richards is done. Andrew Heaney is probably done. The Cardinals see Hector Santiago in the first game of the series. The lefty is decent, perhaps approaching average as a starter. He faces off against Mike Leake, who has not played well so far this season for the Cardinals.
It is believed that Matt Shoemaker will start the second game of the series. The righty has made five starts and his last two starts went so poorly with 13 runs in 5.1 IP that he was sent to the minors. He did make one positive start there, but it remains to be seen what he has to offer. He will face off against Jame Garcia, who has pitched very well so far this season.
You might have heard about Jered Weaver and his velocity issues. Those issues have not gone away. He can't strike guys out, and he is providing innings, albeit at a below average level. His last start was encouraging, with five strikeouts and two runs over six innings, but he gave up 11 runs in the two starts before the last one. He will face off against Carlos Martinez (insert joke about Martinez's offspeed pitches compared to Weaver's fastball and watch hilarity ensue).
This could be the spot where I talk about how great Albert Pujols was and how the Cardinals have been better off than if he accepted their contract offer, but at this point, it has been more than four years. I think it would have been nice if the league had scheduled an Angels visit sometime in the last three years, but at this point, I am hopeful Pujols hangs around at a decent level, hits some milestones, retires, and then comes back to St. Louis so that the team can retire his number. If you are feeling nostalgic about Pujols, lil scooter has you covered.
Enjoy the games if you can stay up that late. They all start at 9:05 PM, central. The designated hitter will be involved if you are into that sort of thing.