The Cardinals had some real opportunities to gain some ground in the division against both the Cubs and Brewers, but did not take advantage. They lost three of four games against Milwaukee despite both teams scoring 21 runs. At least the offense was decent as the Cardinals scored at least four runs in all four games. Now, the Cardinals head outside the NL Central where they have won just one of their past 11 games heading out East to the American League. The Cardinals should destroy the Orioles.*
*W% with title, .571, W% without title, .448
Record-wise, the Orioles find themselves in a somewhat similar situation to the Cardinals at 32-33. Situation-wise they are much worse off. They play in this year’s best division in the American League East. With the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox atop the division by a healthy margin the Orioles have little chance at a division title even if they were to go on a run. As for the wild card, the race is wide open, and they are still in it, but there are about eight teams chasing one spot, which makes things incredibly difficult.
The Orioles pitching has been terrible, but their offense is decent, getting production from unexpected sources. Trey Mancini and Jonathan Schoop have been the team’s best hitters with wRC+ of at least 125. Home run hitters Chris Davis, in the second season of his 7-year, $161 million contract is still hitting for power, but has struck out in 38% of plate appearances, making him merely a slightly above-average hitter overall. He will be out this series due to an oblique strain. David Washington, who hit 30 homers last year in the Cardinals minor league system, was called up to take his place.
Wellington Castillo has been an above average hitter behind the plate for the Orioles while Seth Smith has done the same in the outfield, although the latter is currently day-to-day with a back issue and might hit the DL. The Orioles retained Mark Trumbo after a monster 2016 season, but he has not hit this year with a 91 wRC+ and just 8 home runs after a 123 wRC+ and 47 homers a year ago.
Adam Jones has hit about as well as Trumbo. Manny Machado has hit even worse, although he is still fantastic on defense and has been one of the unluckiest players in baseball this year (just like Matt Carpenter, per Baseball Savant). Manny Machado would look really good with the Birds on the Bat.
J.J. Hardy has been one of the worst hitters in baseball this season and his backup is Cardinals legend Ruben Tejada. Lefty Hyun-Soo Kim hit well last year in a part-time role for Baltimore, but the success has not carried over to this season.
As for the starters, some are calling Baltimore’s rotation terrible. In tonight’s game Kevin Gausman will get the start for Baltimore. After a decent year in 2016, Gausman has been terrible thus far, striking out just 14% of batters and walk 10%. He’s also given up a ton of homers leading to a 5.59 FIP and 6.49 ERA. He throws a 95 mph fourseamer two-thirds of the time, mixing in a splitter and a slider. In his last start, he struck out no batters and walked six, something no starter has done with at least three innings since Jeff Locke back in 2014, per Baseball-Reference’s Play Index. Carlos Martinez will pitch for St. Louis.
On Saturday, Wade Miley will pitch for the Orioles. The lefty has been close to average with strikeouts, but even more generous than Gausman when it comes to walks. His 4.64 FIP is just slightly above average when factoring in league and park with a decent 3.97 ERA. He’s a groundball pitcher when things are going right and he throws a low-90s twoseamer 40% of the time, mixing in a fourseamer, slider, change, and curve. He hasn’t made it through the third inning in either of his last two starts. Adam Wainwright will go for the Cardinals.
It looks like Alec Asher will get the ball on Sunday for the Orioles although an official announcement has yet to be made. Asher made five starts for the Phillies last year, limiting walks and homers, but not missing many bats. He’s split his time between the bullpen and rotation this season, getting good results in the bullpen despite poor peripherals. As a starter he’s had both poor results and peripherals due mostly to low strikeout numbers and too many homers. His fastballs hit the upper-80s and lower-90s, also using a cutter, curve, and change. Asher was previously a part of the Cole Hamels trade and has also served an 80-game PED suspension. Lance Lynn will pitch for the Cardinals.
As the series is in Baltimore, a designated hitter will be used, so presumably Tommy Pham can get some starts again after being benched the last two games for no good reason. Depending on what rumors you believe, Dexter Fowler was almost an Oriole after the 2015 season before joining the Cubs. I doubt Fowler has any regrets. Helpful reminder that Sunday is Father’s Day
Tonight, June 16, 6:05 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest
Saturday, June 17, 3:05 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest
Sunday, June 18, 12:35 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest, MLB Network