There are two franchises whose fans were surely disappointed with the results of last weekend’s Cardinals series at Busch Stadium against the San Francisco Giants more than any other. The first is obvious: the Cardinals. The second are fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the long-time arch nemesis of the Giants. The Cardinals’ next three games are against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Dodgers are currently 26-19, which puts them in third place in the National League West behind the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks, because baseball. The four-time defending division champions entered the season once again as favorites and they surely are poised to make a run sooner or later.
The greatest pitcher in the world takes the mound tonight, and unfortunately, I am not talking about Lance Lynn. Clayton Kershaw has a 7-2 record, a 2.15 earned-run average, a 2.89 fielding-independent ERA, and has been considered somewhat disappointing in 2017 because we are all spoiled by his greatness. Because they are facing the greatest lefty since (at least) Randy Johnson, the Cardinals will sit Kolten Wong, who missed Sunday’s game with injury, sliding third baseman Jedd Gyorko to second and giving Jhonny Peralta his second consecutive start at the hot corner.
Lance Lynn takes the mound for the Cardinals. His ERA is a solid 2.78, although his peripheral statistics have been cause for some concern. The pitching advantage in game one undeniably goes to the Dodgers, though the degree to which it does may vary a bit, from “material” to “oh no oh no oh no”, depending on how much you value statistics beyond raw run suppression.
Unfortunately for the Cardinals, they no longer have their Secret Kershaw Weapon.
Well, that one at least. They have their other one. He’s playing first base and batting third tonight.
The Dodgers have less substantial pitching advantages in the next two games, but both starters should be challenging opponents. Rich Hill, a surprising, resounding success in 2016, has a 2.77 ERA, though his 5.42 FIP is a bit more worrisome for the Dodgers (note: he has only pitched 13 innings in 2017, so take all of this with a grain of salt; also, Hill is 37 years old and only started showing signs of being a potentially dominant starter at age 35, which is extremely weird). Mike Leake has the advantage by ERA (2.03 and FIP (3.18) in 2017.
In Game 3, Kenta Maeda takes the mound. Maeda had a promising rookie campaign last season but has struggled so far in 2017, with a 5.03 ERA in seven starts. For the Cardinals, Michael Wacha and his 2.74 ERA.
Among position players, Logan Forsythe has returned from the Disabled List and will start tonight at third base, as starting third baseman and rumored Cardinals off-season target Justin Turner is on the Disabled List with a strained right hamstring. His 160 wRC+ on the season will surely be missed in the middle of the Dodgers’ lineup. Meanwhile, 2016 Rookie of the Year and MVP candidate Corey Seager has not missed a beat, as his present wRC+ is 138. Infielder Chris Taylor has been even more dominant at the plate, with a current wRC+ of 176, although he is sitting tonight in favor of Chase Utley at second base. Left fielder Cody Bellinger, batting cleanup tonight, may give the Dodgers a chance at yet another Rookie of the Year award, as he has nine home runs in 105 plate appearances, good for a wRC+ of 163.
Oh, and in seventeen innings, closer Kenley Jansen has a FIP of 0.03. No, seriously, He has yet to issue a walk and his strikeout rate is 16.94 per nine. Even his xFIP is 0.67. I hate to say this about a team facing Clayton Kershaw, but the Cardinals would be advised to get to the Dodgers sooner rather than later.
Here’s the broadcast schedule:
Tonight, May 23, 9:00 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest, ESPN
Wednesday, May 24, 9:10 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest, MLB Network (out of market)
Thursday, May 25, 9:10 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest, MLB Network (out of market)