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Cardinals next two games are against the Red Sox

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A Series preview

MLB: Chicago Cubs at St. Louis Cardinals Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

One series against a good team down, between four and six to go depending on your estimation of the San Francisco Giants and Colorado Rockies. After getting by the Chicago Cubs and winning two of three to keep the top spot in the Central, things won’t be getting any easier with the Red Sox followed by the Giants, then Dodgers, Rockies, Dodgers, and Cubs. First, a quick two-game series at home against Boston.

The Red Sox are doing okay so far this season at 19-18. That is certainly a little bit worse off than what might be expected of them, but David Price has yet to start a game and fill-ins like Kyle Kendrick, Brian Johnson, and Steven Wright have been a bit of a disaster. You replace typical David Price starts with the numbers for those players and you probably have a two-win difference, putting them right near the Cardinals current record.

As this is an interleague game in a National League park, no designated hitter will be used. That could give the Cardinals a bit of a break as Hanley Ramirez has played just three innings in the field this season and could be reduced to pinch hitter duties. Assuming he can’t play first base, lefty Mitch Moreland should see time there. Moreland is walking a lot but hasn’t shown much power this year.

Dustin Pedroia is still solid at second base, Xander Boegaerts is slapping singles all over the place while playing shortstop. Third base has been a bit of a mix and match with Pablo Sandoval down. Apparently Deven Marrero is starting tonight. He’s been splitting time between Triple-A and the majors since 2014, and he has not hit at all in the last three years. Josh Rutledge might also be an option.

In the outfield, Jackie Bradley, Jr. is off the disabled list and back in center field. He hasn’t hit yet this season but the lefty is dangerous, putting up a 118 wRC+ last season. In right field, Mookie Betts remains awesome. His 9.7 WAR since the start of 2016 is third in Major League Baseball behind only Mike Trout and Kris Bryant. In left field, Andrew Benintendi might be hearing a lot of Rookie of the Year hype if Aaron Judge didn’t exist. The young lefty has a nice swing and puts the ball in play a lot.

Behind the plate, Christian Vazquez is BABIPing and statting his way to a solid line, but he doesn’t walk or hit for power so that isn’t likely to last. Sandy Leon is somewhat similar.

Think Trevor Rosenthal has been good this year? Craig Kimbrel has struck out 33 batters against just two walks in 16.2 innings this season. The Cardinals would be wise not to be behind heading to the ninth. Cardinals legend Joe Kelly is putting up an incredibly strange stat line, striking out only 10 batters against nine walks in 19 innings, but posting a 1.89 ERA thanks to no homers and a .228 BABIP. Other Cardinals legend Allen Craig is not hitting well in Pawtucket. Still seems weird.

In tonight’s game, the Red Sox are sending Eduardo Rodriguez to the mound. The 24-year-old lefty might be coming into his own as a starter this season. He pitched decently in parts of the last two seasons, but he is striking out 30% of batters this season. His walk numbers aren’t great at 11%, but his FIP is a good 3.47, even if his ERA at 2.80 doesn’t quite match up. He throws a mid-to-low-90s fourseam fastball most of the time and throws a decent amount of changes as well. He also uses a slider and twoseamer from time to time. Lance Lynn will pitch for St. Louis.

Tomorrow night, Rick Porcello goes for Boston. He won the Cy Young award last year and nobody can take that away from him. Porcello hasn’t pitched poorly, but things haven’t gone quite his way this season like they did last year. His strikeout numebrs are actually increased over last year so far with his walk rate at about the same spot. He’s given up nine homers already, which has caused a 3.83 FIP and 4.01 ERA. Once a ground ball specialist, Porcello has turned into a fly ball pitcher and for the most part it has been worth it given the increased strikeouts with no change in his walks. Sometimes homers come in bunches. Mike Leake pitches for the Cardinals.

Tonight, May 16, 2017, 7:15 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest, MLB Network

Wednesday, May 17, 2017, 7:15 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest, ESPN