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Cardinals should destroy the Brewers

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MLB: Kansas City Royals at St. Louis Cardinals Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

At the end of the upcoming series against the Brewers, the St. Louis Cardinals will be at the halfway point of the regular season. The season has been somewhat disappointing, not because the Cardinals are not playing well for the most part, but because they have been playing well and that play is not reflected in a 40-38 record. Regardless, almost halfway through the season, the Cardinals are just one game out of the Wild Card, a spot many teams would love to be in. The Cardinals should destroy the Brewers.

It has been a month since the Cardinals took two of three from the Brewers, and not a whole lot has changed in the standings or expectations-wise. As we get closer to the trade deadline, we will be sure to hear more about Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy, but for now, things seem pretty quiet. In an interesting development, none of the three pitchers who started for the Brewers in the last series will start this series against the Cardinals.

Ryan Braun is still having an excellent season, putting up a 144 wRC+ and there will not likely be a better time to trade him. His contract is not particularly onerous, owed $58 million over the next four years with another $14 million in deferred payments over the following decade. However, Braun is also 32 years old, and the odds that he keeps up his current pace for much longer are not great. If they don’t move him now, they might soon find his somewhat reasonable-seeming contract is no longer movable.

Jonathan Lucroy has rebounded after a disappointing 2015 season, putting up a 124 wRC+ from the catcher spot. Lucroy is owed around $2 million the rest of this season and another $5.25 million next season making him an incredible bargain for the Brewers, and should make him less so for the team looking to give up prospects to receive him. While the Brewers are in a tough division with the Cubs, Cardinals, and Pirates all looking competitive, they have done a solid job rebuilding thus far, and you don’t have to squint to see them being competitive in a few years.

As for the rest of the position-player side, Jonathan Villar has been playing closer to average offensively of late, which is more in line with reasonable expectations after his hot start. He strikes out a ton, not unlike teammates Chris Carter and Kirk Nieuwenheis, the latter of the pair getting starts in center field of late. Ramon Flores has been getting some playing time of late, but has not done much, although he’s probably a bit better than the 57 wRC+ he’s putting up thus far. Aaron Hill also plays for the Brewers.

On the pitching side, Matt Garza has returned and pitches tonight. In 16 innings over three starts, he has just 8 strikeouts and four walks, but he has yet to give up a home run, keeping his ERA and FIP low at 2.81 and 3.10, respectively. Garza is owed another $12.5 million, following the trail set by former Cardinals Jeff Suppan and Kyle Lohse as mid-rotation starters who cashed in by signing with Milwaukee. If the Brewers could move Garza, I’m sure they would be happy to, and Garza might be pleased with that himself. Jamie Garcia takes the mound for St. Louis.

On Saturday, Jimmy Nelson pitches for the Brewers. Nelson does not strike out a lot of hitters, he walks too many, and he doesn’t suppress home runs, yet his ERA sits at a reasonable 3.60 compared to his 4.94 FIP. In his last start he managed to walk five batter, strike out just one, but still shut out the Nationals for five innings. Reasonable expectations going forward probably sit in the middle of his current ERA and FIP. Adam Wainwright will start for the Cardinals.

In the final game of the series, Chase Anderson will start for Milwaukee. Anderson made the start against the Cardinals back on April 13, giving up 3 unearned runs with four strikeouts and two walks in six innings. Things haven’t been going great for Anderson since then who has an ERA and FIP both above five and 16 homers in 77.2 innings pitched. All three starters for the Brewers this series are righties. Michael Wacha will pitch for the Cardinals.

Tonight’s game is at 7:15 pm CT and will air on FOX Sports Midwest

Saturday’s game is at 1:15 pm CT and will air on FOX Sports Midwest

Sunday’s game is at 1:15 pm CT and will air on FOX Sports Midwest

Have a great Fourth of July weekend.