One minute, you’re on top of the world, the next minute, some secretary’s running you over with a lawn mower.
- Joan Holloway
A week and a half ago the Cardinals seemed to be moving up. They put their pitching woes behind them and put together a five-game winning streak. St. Louis was beating good teams, too. Then, last week the team had bullpen and offense problems that turned a five-game winning streak into a five-game losing streak. Three games later after a sweep of the Chicago Cubs, things are looking up again as they head out west to play the Mariners, who have had their own struggles of late going 9-19 over the past month. The Cardinals should destroy the Mariners.
On offense, the Mariners are headed by a trio of players: Robinson Cano, still going strong at age-33 after a difficult 2015 season, Kyle Seager, who has been consistently above average with more than 20 homers the past five years, and Nelson Cruz, who is still really good on offense in the power department so hopefully he doesn’t work the Cardinals over like a pair of kissing cousins. And hopefully that reference didn’t go over your head. Enough about Nelson Cruz and things going over heads...
Adam Lind is likely to be designated hitter or perhaps first base in this series depending on where Cruz plays. He got off to a terrible start this year, but over the past month has seven homers and a 141 wRC+ after a decent year with Milwaukee last season. Dae-Ho Lee could also see time and is in his first year in the majors. He has hit well with 10 homers and a 127 wRC+, but he has only walked six times in 138 plate appearances.
Ketel Marte is the team’s shortstop, but does not bring a lot to the table offensively. At catcher, Chris Iannetta is a patient offensive player, drawing a decent amount of walks with occasional pop, making him roughly average with the bat and therefore above average for a catcher.
In the outfield, Leonys Martin is known for his good glove, but he’s showing some pop this year with a .202 ISO. He strikes out a lot (26%), but if he can even be average at the plate, it would make him a pretty valuable player for Seattle, who got him from the Rangers in the offseason for Tom Wilhelmsen, who is back on the Mariners now. Seth Smith is a decent lefty platoon bat, while Nori Aoki has been a disappointment this year with just an 80 wRC+ so far.
If you are wondering if it has been a long time since the Cardinals visited Seattle, it has:
From one of our comments. Last time the Cardinals were at Safeco in Seattle. pic.twitter.com/K14Vwt2ZmK— viva el birdos (@vivaelbirdos) June 23, 2016
On the pitching side, the Mariners have had a rough go of it of late. Felix Hernandez is on the disabled list and Taijuan Walker is having his start skipped. That means tonight’s starter is Wade LeBlanc, who is 31 years old, having bounced around quite a bit. His last major league appearance was in 2014, and he was just traded from the Blue Jays organization pretty much yesterday. LeBlanc pitched in Japan last year, and was pitching well in Triple-A (23% K-rate, 6% BB-rate), so we will have to see what the lefty has to offer. Carlos Martinez will pitch for the Cardinals.
On Saturday, Nathan Karns will pitch. Karns, acquired in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays in the offseason for Brad Miller, strikes a lot of guys out (25% K-rate). However, he also walks a lot guys which leads him pretty close to average overall. He is mainly fastball-curve with the fastball in the low-90s, but also mixes in a change. Mike Leake with be taking the mound for St. Louis.
On Sunday, James Paxton pitches for Seattle and he throws hard. The lefty’s fourseam fastball, which he throws roughly two-thirds of the time, averages 97 mph, a big jump from last season. The only other pitch he throws with any frequency is a cutter. Those pitches have led to a very good 25% K-rate with a solid 7% walk rate. That production has led to a FIP and ERA in the low-threes, though he has made just five starts this season. Jaime Garcia takes the mound for the Cardinals.
Also of note, former Cardinals reliever Steve Cishek is the Mariners closer, although he let the winning run in on a wild pitch in yesterday’s game against the Tigers. The game was pitched by the bullpen so it isn’t clear how well rested the bullpen will be heading into the series.
Tonight’s game starts at 9:10 pm CT and will be on FOX Sports Midwest
Saturday’s game starts at 9:10 pm CT and will be on FOX Sports Midwest
Sunday’s game starts at 3:10 pm CT and will be on FOX Sports Midwest