In a long season, there are going to be a number of period where the team struggles, and for good teams, there are also going to be a considerable number of periods where things go really well. The Cardinals are currently in one of the good times. It remains to be seen whether they are in the middle or at the end of those times, but it is becoming increasingly clear that the Cardinals are a good team. That is less clear about the Astros, a very talented team beset by a bit of bad luck. The Astros are certainly better than their 30-35 record indicates. The Cardinals should destroy the Astros.
The Astros have three of the very best young players in baseball in Carlos Correa, George Springer, and Jose Altuve. The Astros second baseman, in particular, has been great this year with 10 homers, 18 steals on 19 attempts and a 161 wRC+ for Altuve. Springer has also played very well this season with 14 homers and a 128 wRC+ for the right fielder.
The Astros most talented player is 21-year-old Carlos Correa. The Astros made Correa the number one overall pick out of Puerto Rico just four years ago. He made his debut last year, won rookie of the year and great things are expected of Correa. Thus far this year, he has been solid with a .256/.351/.423 line good for a 113 wRC+, but his power has not reached last year’s level. His ISO is at .167, down from .233 last year and it remains to be seen where he will settle. At just 21, Correa’s best is ahead of him. He tweaked his ankle last week and missed the weekend series, but he is expected back against St. Louis.
Carlos Gomez has been a bit of a disappointment this season after coming over in a trade last season from the Milwaukee Brewers. Gomez is hitting just .181/.249/.297 with a 46 wRC+ while striking out 36% of the time. He will be a free agent at the end of the year, and will have to have a pretty big turnaround in order to get the type of money that would have been expected just a year ago.
Both surprisingly positive and disappointing might describer Tyler White so far. Winning the first base job in Spring Training, White was hot at the beginning of the year, but has struggled since, with his line all the way down to .211/.296/.386. At this point, it is just a matter of time before more highly regarded prospect A.J. Reed takes over.
Old friend Colby Rasmus is doing Colby Rasmus-type things with a lot of walks, a lot of strikeouts, the occasional home run and a wRC+ at 89 on the season. Luis Valbuena is basically the same player, except at third base and Jason Castro is roughly the same except at catcher. The Astros tend to strike out a lot is what I’m getting at. Speaking of, Evan Gattis is the team’s designated hitter so it’s not clear if he will get into the games this series.
On the pitching side of things, Doug Fister starts the first game for the Astros. Fister does not strike many hitters out, he walks too many hitters for a guy without strikeouts, and he also gives up home runs at an above-average (in a bad way) rate. Thus, it might be surprising to find out Fister has a 3.34 ERA on the season. He has only given up more than three runs in one start all year. His FIP is a poor 4.67, but due to a .262 BABIP and an 80% left-on-base rate make that ERA possible, but there is no reason to think it’s sustainable. He will go up against Jaime Garcia, who pitched poorly his last time out against Cincinnati.
Tomorrow, Colin McHugh takes the mound for Houston. McHugh is like the reverse-Fister this year. He strikes out a decent amount and doesn’t walk many, but despite a 3.82 FIP his ERA is a very bad 5.22 on the season. McHugh is fly ball pitcher who has seen a few too many leave the park this year. His BABIP is a crazy .358 and his LOB-rate is a lower than expected 70% on the year. He lasted just 3.2 innings in his last start against the Rangers, but his talent is probably pretty close to his current FIP. Adam Wainwright goes for the Cardinals and he has 20 strikeouts against two walks in his last three starts.
Tonight’s game is at 7:15 pm CT and can be seen on FOX Sports Midwest
Wednesday’s game is at 6:15 pm CT and can be seen on FOX Sports Midwest
Ahead of tonight’s game at 6pm CT, I will be doing a Facebook Live event. You can view it live by going to our Facebook page here.