The Cardinals just keep playing well enough to blow a lot of games. Very soon, the same might be said for the Cardinals season. On paper, the Cardinals are a talented team that should be in the playoff hunt. For the most part they’ve played like a team—in terms of hitting and pitching and scoring runs and preventing runs—that should be in the playoff race. However, when you keep losing close games, at some point you find yourself out of playoff contention. The Cardinals appear very close to that point. That said, the Cardinals should destroy the Rockies.*
*With title, .525 W%, Without title, .448 W%. It’s getting dicey here, folks.
The Cardinals are 21-19 since making organizational changes and this website re-instituting the above series preview title. We are fast approaching the date where we accept neither the organizational changes nor the series preview title have had the desired affect. For the Cardinals, that’s going to mean selling. For this website, it might mean changing the series preview titles. It also might not.
While perhaps the Cardinals won’t destroy the Rockies, they still are the better team on paper despite the 10-game gap in the standings. Think about it for a minute. Yadier Molina or Tony Wolters. Matt Carpenter or Mark Reynolds. Kolten Wong or D.J. Lemahieu. Paul DeJong or Trevor Story, who is the current dark timeline of Paul DeJong. Nolan Arenado or...well that one doesn’t work as well. Tommy Pham or Ian Desmond. Dexter Fowler and Charlie Blackmon is probably closer than you might think. And either Randal Grichuk or Stephen Piscotty have been better than Carlos Gonzalez.
It carries over to the pitching matchups as well. Antonio Senzatela or Mike Leake. Jon Gray is probably better than Lance Lynn, but Carlos Martinez against Jeff Hoffman isn’t particularly close talent-wise. So, yes on paper, the Cardinals are the better team. Going forward, FanGraphs projects the Cardinals to go 34-30 while the Rockies to go 29-35. That’s five games better for the Cardinals! That doesn’t really matter much when one team is ten games out in front.
If the Cardinals were to sweep, and the Cardinals then finished five games better than the Rockies, they’d still finish two games behind them in the Wild Card. That is the Cardinals hole, and now that they lost two of three to the Cubs, who have already made a great midseason addition, they are sadly more likely to make the Wild Card than win the division. That’s why the Cardinals are probably going to be selling this week.
In tonight’s game, the previously mentioned Senzatela gets the call for Colorado. Rockies pitchers have pitched much better outside of Coors Field this season. Of course, Senzatela gets to play outside of Coors Field this series so even though he doesn’t strike a lot of guys out, he’s only given up 3 homers on the road, good for a 3.65 FIP. That probably isn’t sustainable, but he is a fourseam fastball pitcher who generates a lot of ground balls, which Colorado’s defense is well-equipped to handle. Mike Leake gets the start for the Cardinals.
On Tuesday, Jon Gray pitches for the Rockies. The big righty has only made seven starts this year due to a broken foot, but has put up good peripheral numbers with 22% K-rate, a decent 9% BB-rate and suppressed homers in 32 innings. A ridiculous .390 BABIP and 64 % left-on-base rate makes his ERA appear much worse than he has actually pitched. He might still be shaking some rust off, but he should be Colorado’s best pitcher. Assuming Lance Lynn hasn’t been traded, maybe even to the Rockies, he will start for the Cardinals.
On Wednesday’s finale, Jeff Hoffman is Colorado’s scheduled starter. Hoffman was a part of the ill-fated trade that sent Troy Tulowitzki to Toronto and brought back Jose Reyes. Hoffman debuted last year and gave up seven homers in 31.1 innings. He’s been better this season in 11 starts and one relief appearance, putting up a 4.01 FIP, which is really good considering his home park and a 5.10 ERA, which is crazily average after you take Coors into account.
Hoffman’s a fly ball pitcher who hasn’t given up that many homers using a mid-to-high 90s fourseamer and a curve along with the occasional change and slider. He got off to a good start after his callup this year, giving up just one run in four of his first five starts. Arizona then exploded on him for nine runs and in six starts after that one, he has a FIP above five and ERA above six, so it is possible the league is adjusting to him. Carlos Martinez take the hill for St. Louis.
Tonight, July 24, 7:08 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest, ESPN
Tuesday, July 25, 7:15 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest, MLB Network
Wednesday, July 26, 7:15 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest