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Cardinals should destroy the Mets

A Series Preview

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

So that Pittsburgh series was a bit of a downer. The Cardinals were so close to a sweep. If they hadn’t given up a walkoff homer on Friday in a tie game and if they had closed out the game yesterday, the Cardinals would be 4.5 games out of first, 5.5 games out of the wild card, and they would actually have a winning record for the first time since June 1. Alas, they did lose two out of three in Pittsburgh and continue eastward to New York. The Cardinals should destroy the Mets.*

*With title, .545 W%. Without title, .448 W%.

There really isn’t a whole lot to preview in this series that we didn’t cover a little over a week ago as the Cardinals last series before the All-Star Break was a homestand where the Cardinals took two of three from the Mets. Yoenis Cespedes’s status isn’t exactly clear after he hurt his hip a few days ago, but he played yesterday. Michael Conforto returned from the disabled list during the Cardinals series, so he’s back now and playing center field. Curtis Granderson has only played sparingly of late with Cespedes, Conforto, and Jay Bruce getting most of the playing time.

Zach Wheeler starts tonight for the Mets. Here’s what we said last series:

Wheeler hasn’t been great this season after coming back from Tommy John surgery and then complications from the same. He’s walking too many guys and giving up a lot of homers which is a bad combo causing an ERA and FIP both around five. He was on the DL after two disastrous starts in mid-June, giving up 15 runs in 3.2 innings. In his last start, he went 3.2 innings, giving up two unearned runs and his last scheduled start was rained out.

Wheeler did pitch a good game against the Cardinals the last time these two teams met, going six innings, striking out five against one walk and gave up two runs. Adam Wainwright will pitch for St. Louis.

Rafael Montero gets the start on Tuesday. The righty has pitched mostly out of the bullpen this season, but has made four starts. He’s got decent peripheral numbers when it comes to strikeouts and homers this season, but his ERA has been awful due to a high BABIP and tons of walks. He’s been better in his career against righties than lefties so Fowler, Sierra, Carpenter, and Wong could have an advantage. He’s mainly fastball, slider, but also throws a change. Michael Wacha will go for the Cardinals.

On Wednesday, Jacob deGrom is scheduled to pitch for the Mets. Here’s what we said about deGrom a week ago.

The Mets best pitcher this year has been Jacob deGrom and he starts tonight. deGrom has struck out 29% of batters against 9% walks and that’s caused a solid 3.63 FIP and 3.55 ERA. He’s given up a few more home runs this season than he has in the past, but his velocity on the fastball is back up to near 96 mph, what it was when he had a five-WAR season two years ago.

deGrom gave up four homers in his start against the Cardinals, but in his first start back from the break, he struck out 11 Rockies, walking one, and pitched eight innings of two-run ball. Mike Leake will pitch for St. Louis.

On Thursday, Seth Lugo is the scheduled starter for the Mets. Lugo is a right-hander who has also spent some time in the bullpen as well as the rotation, but has six of seven appearances this season as a starter. He doesn’t strike out a lot of guys, but doesn’t walk a lot either. That should make him a roughly league-average starter, though his ERA is a bit higher than that. Unless his somewhat low home run rate is a skill, he’s probably a bit worse than league average. Lance Lynn gets the call for the Cardinals.

Tonight, July 17, 6:10 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest

Tuesday, July 18, 6:10 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest

Wednesday, July 19, 6:10 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest, ESPN

Thursday, July 20, 11:10 am CT, Fox Sports Midwest, MLB Network