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Cardinals next three games are scheduled against the Pirates

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A series preview

St. Louis Cardinals v New York Yankees Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Looking for some glass half full-type statements? The Cardinals have played a difficult schedule, some of their poor performances have come from players that almost assuredly will play better, and both times the team has lost three games in a row this season, they followed it up with a victory. What about glass half-empty? The Cardinals play another difficult team in the Pirates, they’ve now had three, three game losing streaks, and some of the performances they’ve gotten aren’t really that much worse than expected. The Cardinals next three games are against the Pirates.

The Pittsburgh Pirates, not unlike the St. Louis Cardinals, got off to a rough start, winning just three of their first nine games. The Pittsburgh Pirates, unlike the St. Louis Cardinals, rose to the challenge over the weekend and swept the Chicago Cubs. Most of the Pirates players should be familiar to you, but we’ll do a quick rundown before getting to the pitching matchups.

Andrew McCutchen really fell of last season, becoming an average hitter to go with less than stellar defense in center field. He’s been moved to right field this season and has put up average numbers on offense, but there are signs vintage McCutchen is alive and well with four extra base hits, including two homers, in the past week. Starling Marte is the player who moved McCutchen to right field and despite striking out a ton so far this year is still pretty close to average on offense.

Gregory Polanco rounds out a very good outfield, although he might not be able to play in every game this series due to a groin injury. Adam Frazier has been getting playing time and he is currently playing out of his mind. Josh Bell is playing a lot at first base and he’s struggled a bit to start the season, but the other first base option, John Jaso, is hitting even worse than Jhonny Peralta.

Jordy Mercer is still your typical, no-hit shortstop, Josh Harrison is a BABIP-dependent second baseman, and Cardinals legend David Freese still loves that local pizza chain and is having a really good season so far with 9 walks and just 4 strikeouts. Francisco Cervelli remains the Pirates catcher after a somewhat disappointing, injury filled season last year.

Tonight, the latest Ray Searage-creation, Ivan Nova, will pitch for the Pirates. Many people think that Nova’s name is Searage, but actually Searage is the name of the pitching coach. Nova pitched really well for the Pirates after a mid-season trade from the Yankees last year and signed a three-year deal for just $26 million in the offseason. Nova throws a low-90s twoseamer which generates a bunch of ground balls along with a curve and fourseamer. In two starts, he’s gone six innings both times with a total of just five strikeouts, no walks and three earned runs. Lance Lynn pitches for the Cardinals.

Tomorrow, Chad Kuhl takes the mound for Pittsburgh. Kuhl is a 24-year-old righty who is mostly a sinker-slider pitcher, though he doesn’t end up with as many ground balls as one might think given his profile. He had a rough start against Atlanta in his first start of the season, striking out five and walking six, but against Boston, he went 6.1 innings, striking out six against no walks and just one run. Mike Leake will go for St. Louis.

On Wednesday, Gerrit Cole pitches for the Pirates. Cole has gotten off to a rough start this season, lacking in strikeouts, although his walks have been fine and he has improved with each outing. He’s increased the use of his change over past seasons, and in is more recent, successful outings, has upped his slider usage, which is good sign for those who dig Cole. Michael Wacha will pitch for the Cardinals.

This series is in St. Louis

Tonight, 6:05 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest, ESPN, MLB.tv free game of the day

Tuesday, April 18, 7:15 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest, MLBN

Wednesday, April 19, 12:45 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest