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Cardinals should destroy the Phillies, again

A series preview

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at St. Louis Cardinals Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

Eleven days ago, the Cardinals made some organizational changes ahead of a series with the Phillies. Looking back, it is hard to tell if the organizational changes spurred the Cardinals onto a sweep against the Phillies or if the Phillies themselved did most of the work. Since that sweep the Cardinals are 2-5, but the Phillies are an even worse 1-6, winning one game against Boston and getting swept by Arizona, although four of the losses were by a single run. The Cardinals should destroy the Phillies.*

*Update: Cardinals W% with, .500, Cardinals W% without, .448

Given that these two teams played just over a week ago, I’d like to point you to the preview we did for that series in St. Louis ahead of the current series in Philadelphia. Let’s take a quick look at what has gone on with the Phillies of late.

  • Cesar Hernandez was placed on the disabled list on June 11 after getting hurt during the Cardinals series.
  • Joquin Benoit was activated from the disabled list at the same time. He’s given up one run on a homer in three outings while striking out two and walking one.
  • Today, the Phillies designated Jeanmar Gomez and Michael Saunders for assignment and called up pitcher Hoby Milner and outfielder Cameron Perkins. They also put Jerad Eickoff, who wasn’t in line to start this series, on the disabled list and called up Brock Stassi.

Gomez started the season as the Phillies closer and the team probably hoped to trade him to a contender at the deadline before free agency at the end of the season, but he was pretty bad so they never got the chance. Similarly Michael Saunders was signed to a one-year deal with an option for 2018 and the team probably hoped for some trade value or a bargain player next year, but he performed poorly.

As for their replacements, Milner is a lefty reliever with solid numbers in the minors. Perkins is a 26-year-old with solid contact ability who can play all three outfield positions. The rest of the team remains unchanged and Howie Kendrick has been getting Hernandez’s time at second base with Daniel Nava getting most of the starts in left, though Perkins might change. Cardinals minor league legend Ty Kelly is a utility player on the team.

As for the pitching matchups, they are exactly the same from the Phillies end. Tonight, Jeremy Hellickson. From the last preview:

Hellickson put up a good season last year and accepted the qualifying offer, but has completely lost the ability to miss bats this season with a strikeout rate going from 20% last year to 10% this season. His swinging strike rate was 11% last season, which is bit above the league average for a starter (10%), but this year it has dropped to under 7%, one of the worst marks in baseball. He split his 90 mph fastballs last season between a fourseamer and a twoseamer pretty evenly last year, but has gone almost all fourseamer this year. The righty throws a ton of changes and mixes in a slider and curve as well.

Hellickson had a decent outing against St. Louis last time out, giving up three runs in six innings with strikeouts and a walk. In his last start against Boston, he walked three, struck out one, and gave up six runs in five innings. Mike Leake gets the call for the Cardinals.

Tomorrow night, Nick Pivetta.

Pivetta is a 24-year-old righty who came from the Nationals in the Jonathan Papelbon trade. He pitched well in Double-A and Triple-A last year before earning a promotion after a strong month in the minors this year. In five MLB starts, his strikeouts have been respectable with a mid-90s fastball, a slider, curve, and change. Where he’s had trouble so far has been walks and the long ball, giving up 12 walks and five homers in 24.1 IP. The curve has been a weapon against righties, but he might end up a reliever.

Against the Cardinals, Pivetta struck out two against four walks and gave up four runs in five innings, but he threw seven shutout innings against the Red Sox with nine strikeouts and two walks. Michael Wacha gets the start for the Cardinals.

On Wednesday afternoon, Aaron Nola.

Nola pitched well in over 100 innings last year, but had an inflated 4.78 ERA due to some bad luck on sequencing. He’s pitched pretty well this season, but missed some time earlier due a lower back strain. He’s pretty close to average when it comes to walk and strikeout rates, but a heavy dose of groundballs keeps his home run rate low even though he pitches in a hitter’s haven in Philly. He mostly throws a low-90s twoseamer with a curve as his primary breaking pitch. The 24-year-old righty also mixes in a change and fourseamer.

Nola struck out six and walked two against the Cardinals but last just five innings and gave up three runs. He repeated the strikeout and walk numbers against Arizona, but only went five innings and gave up six runs. Carlos Martinez pitches for St. Louis, and thank goodness he does.

Tonight, June 20, 6:05 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest, MLB.tv Free Game of the Day

Wednesday, June 21, 6:05 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest

Thursday, June 22, 12:05 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest, MLB Network