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Cardinals should destroy the Brewers

A series preview

Philadelphia Phillies v St. Louis Cardinals Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

On Friday, the Cardinals made some organizational changes, removing Chris Maloney from the MLB coaching staff, putting Mike Shildt in his spot over at third base and calling up Mark Budaska and Pop Warner to the big league staff. They also put good clubhouse guy Jhonny Peralta on waivers, and John Mozeliak told everyone that nobody's job was safe. The team responded by destroying the moribound Phillies in a sweep, and despite a 29-32 record, sit just 2.5 games out of first heading into this home series against Milwaukee. The Cardinals should destroy the Brewers.*

*It's back. Here's why.

The first-place Brewers find themselves in an interesting spot just a month fyi the All-Star Break. They haven't played great baseball, but the mediocrity of yhe NL Central means playing halfway decent ball gets you in first place. The team probably shouldn't be buyers given they are still in rebuilding mode, but they hold on another month, and they might have to reconsider.

Ryan Braun has been on the disabled list with a calf problem and seems likely to miss the series. Travis Shaw, who is putting up a very good 124 wRC+ on the season, missed the last series on bereavement leave but will be back against St. Louis. Hernan Perez has filled in for Shaw and could go back to filling in for Ryan Braun as he has played all over the field for the Brewers with an average hitting line.

Jonathan Villar, who has hit terribly this season, is currently on the disabled list with a back issue. His replacement at second has been Eric Sogard, who has been hitting like crazy. Villar's replacement on the roster has been top prospect Lewis Brinson. The outfielder's stay in the majors is undetermined with Braun rejoining the team at some point, but if Keon Broxton and his 40% K-rate don't come around soon, Brinson could find himself the everyday center fielder.

Brewers have recently called up other prospects like outfielder Brett Phillips, who just got sent bak down, and lefty starter John Hader, who is currently pitching out of the pen. Also of note, Eric Thames has come down a bit, with a 91 wRC+ since the beginning of May, though his incredible April still puts his seasonal wRC+ at a robust system 147. Domingo Santana is having a pretty quietly solid season with the bat and Manny Pina and Jett Bandy are holding up well behind the plate.

Today’s doubleheader will begin with another Brewers rookie, Brandon Woodruff, making his debut. Woodruff is a righty with okay Triple-A stats—4.33 FIP and 4.12 ERA—but keep in mind the Brewers Triple-A club is in Colorado, which can inflate numbers a bit. In Double-A last year, Woodruff struck out 27% batters, walked 7% and gave up just four homers in 113.2 innings pitched. He was Fangraphs’ 80th best prospect coming into the season, and Eric Longenhagen had this to say:

Woodruff broke out in 2016 by throwing his heavy sinker for strikes with consistency and locating his above-average slider to his glove side. He’s a physically mature 24-year-old and there likely isn’t much more coming in the way of stuff, but there’s already a solid fourth-starter profile here.

Lance Lynn will be starting for the Cardinals in Game 1.

As of this writing, the Brewers have not named a starter for tonight, but for the sake of argument, let’s say it is Jimmy Nelson. April 23, Nelson pitched against the Cardinals, struck out five but walked six and gave up four runs in a Cardinals victory. Since that game, Nelson has been fantastic. Over his last eight starts, Nelson has pitched 46.2 innings, struck out 50 and walked just eight. For the time being, it certainly appears he has eliminated his control problems. He’s a big righty and he throws a hard fourseamer and sinker along with a change and curve. Marco Gonzales, who is battling back from Tommy John surgery, will pitch for the Cardinals. We will see how ready the lefty is and we should note that two of the Brewers best hitters in Eric Thames and Travis Shaw are both left-handed, as is Eric Sogard.

Tomorrow, we don’t know for sure who is starting for the Brewers so let’s say it is Zach Davies. The 24-year-old righty has not pitched well this season, failing to miss bats and giving up too many homers. However, he does have a 3.33 ERA since facing the Cardinals in April. That’s mostly due to a pretty lucky 87% left-on-base rate that is unlikely to continue. Mike Leake pitches for St. Louis.

In the finale, let’s just say Junior Guerra will be ther pitcher. Guerra had an outstanding season last year as a 31-year-old rookie, but has had some injury problems this season, pitching in just a single game before hitting the disabled list with a calf strain. In four starts since coming off the DL, he’s hardly been lights out, walking almost as many batters (13) as he has struck out (14). An unsustainably low BABIP of .235 and a riduclous 94% left-on-base rate ahs kept his ERA at 1.99 over those last four starts. Michael Wacha will start for the Cardinals.

It looks like the Cardinals will miss Chase Anderson, who has limited home runs this season and put up very good numbers and Matt Garza, who is currently on the DL and been decent this year by limiting walks.

Today, June 13, Game 1, 1:15 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest, MLBN

Today, June 13, Game 2, 7:15 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest

Wednesday, June 14, 7:15 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest

Thursday, June 15, 6:15 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest