This week did not go as planned for the Cardinals as apparently everyone went on the disabled list and the Cardinals lost the first three games of the series to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Despite not having any healthy players, they still beat the Pirates yesterday because Adam Wainwright decided it was the right thing to do. The Cardinals enter this weekend’s series at Milwaukee just one game in the loss column behind the second-wild card Dodgers and the wild card leading Mets just lost Matt Harvey for the season so it isn’t like the Cardinals are the only team with injury issues. The Cardinals could destroy the Brewers.
It feel like I just did this, and it turns out the Cardinals just swept the Brewers last weekend. So as not to pull a RIck Reilly and self-plagiarize, I will liberally quote from what I wrote last week.
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.
My how things change in just one week. Just about everything is more or less true, except of course that last sentence. Aaron Hill is now with the Red Sox. Hernan Perez gets the start tonight at third base. Perez is fast—he has ten steals in 130 plate appearances—but does not hit very well with an 81 wRC+ and projections that are worse.
On the pitching side, tonight’s game brings us Jimmy Nelson. This is what I wrote last week:
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.
Nelson had four strikeouts and three walks while giving up three runs in six innings in his last start against the Cardinals with the Cardinals winning the game 3-0. Michael Wacha goes tonight for the Cardinals.
Tomorrow, Chase Anderson goes for the Brewers. This is what I wrote about Anderson last week:
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.
Anderson made it just 4.1 innings against the Cardinals last week, striking out two and walking five while giving up three runs in a game the bullpen almost blew, but turned into a 9-8 victory. Carlos Martinez starts for the Cardinals.
On Sunday, Brewers ace Junior Guerra pitches for Milwaukee. Guerra has put up a 2.93 ERA and 3.55 FIP on the season after 12 starts. Guerra throws a mid-90s fourseam fastball more than half the time, but mixes in a splitter and a curve. When Guerra throws those offspeed pitches outside the zone, hitters have a really tough time making contact. This is the one pitching matchup where the Brewers will have the advantage as Mike Leake goes for the Cardinals.
Tonight’s game is at 7:10 pm CT and airs on FOX Sports Midwest.
Saturday’s game is at 1:10 pm CT and airs on FOX Sports Midwest.
Sunday’s game is at 1:10 pm CT and airs on FOX Sports Midwest.