The St. Louis Cardinals just split the series with the Chicago Cubs that had its share of disappointments and joy. The upcoming series in Houston figures to have considerably less of both given the teams are playing just two games. The Cardinals had the day off yesterday and the they will have another day off Thursday. Rest is good. The Cardinals should destroy the Astros.
Last time the Cardinals played the Astros, Houston was just 30-35 on the season. They have fared a bit better since then getting to 61-57 on the season although they are just 6-8 this month. The last time these two teams faced off, Doug Fister faced off against Jaime Garcia and Colin McHugh battled Adam Wainwright as Garcia pitched decently while Wainwright pitched seven shutout innings before Kevin Siegrist and Trevor Rosenthal gave up four runs in a 4-1 loss. Garcia and Fister are both pitching again this series, but not against each other.
On the position player side, Houston has undergone a fair amount of changes. Carlos Correa, George Springer, and Jose Altuve are all still great. There have been a bunch of changes everywhere else, though.
Alex Bregman is the new Astros third baseman for now. One of the top prospects in baseball, Bregman is a shortstop, but has moved to third as Correa stays at shortstop. How long he will remain at third base the rest of the season is not yet clear as the Astros signed Cuban free agent Yulieski Gurriel. While Gurriel is in the minors now, it is only a matter of time before he comes up and Bregman, who got off to a slow start, moves to left field.
Speaking of left field, Cardinals legend Colby Rasmus is currently on the disabled list. That has left Tony Kemp in left field for the time being, but not much is expected of Kemp. In center field, the Astros are getting rid of Carlos Gomez and have called up Teoscar Hernandez. Not much should be expected of Hernandez either, but he does have a decent bit of speed. Jake Marisnick could see time out there as well.
At first base, prospect A.J. Reed, who can hit a bit, but hasn’t yet, and Marwin Gonzalez, who can’t hit a bit and likely won’t, are sharing time. Tyler White has also seen time at first, and he or Reed could see time at designated hitter, but that spot is likely going to Evan Gattis, a less athletic, older version of Randal Grichuk.
On the mound tonight for the Astros is Dallas Keuchel. The reigning Cy Young winner has not had as great of a season in 2016 as he did last year, but the lefty has been solid. His BABIP and home runs have regressed a bit, keeping him a bit above average as opposed to ace. His fastball stays in the upper-80s with his high-70s slider his best offering. Jaime Garcia, who has been very good the last few times out, will pitch for the Cardinals. He will not be hitting as the designated hitter will be used for this series.
Tomorrow, Doug Fister will pitch for the Astros. Fister’s ERA of 3.61 is a bit misleading as his FIP is 4.49 on the season. This is what I wrote last time and I stand by it:
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.
It’s been another two months, and in his last four outings he has given up 6, 0, 1, and 5 runs, so it’s anybody’s guess at this point. Carlos Martinez will pitch for the Cardinals.
Tonight’s game is at 7:10 pm CT and will air on FOX Sports Midwest
Tomorrow’s game is in the afternoon, starting at 1:10 pm CT and will air on FOX Sports Midwest. It is also the free game of the day on MLB.tv.