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Cardinals should destroy the Diamondbacks

A series preview

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Arizona Diamondbacks Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t think anybody really has any idea what is going on. After losing two of three to the Cubs, the Cardinals seemed sure sellers and they still might be. After sweeping the Rockies, the team stands just 3.5 games out of first place and seven back in the Wild Card. Now they face the Wild Card leaders and they are eight back. The Cardinals should destroy the Diamondbacks.*

*With title, .558 W%. Without title, .448 W%

It’s been a month since the Cardinals and Diamondbacks last played each other. The Cardinals took two of three. Much of the team is the same, but the Diamondbacks have already made one major acquisition in acquiring J.D. Martinez. The free-agent to be does one thing well and that is hit the ball. He’s got a 163 wRC+ on the season in 250 plate appearances and already has three home runs for Arizona. His defense is a liability, but he hits enough to be a very good player.

On to the pitching matchups:

Zack Godley gets the call in the opener for Arizona. Last month, he pitched seven strong innings against the Cardinals, striking out seven, walking three and giving up three runs. He’s still sporting a very good FIP at 3.11, a very good ERA at 3.32, and he’s still striking out a lot of hitters, getting ground balls and preventing homers. His two starts since the All-Star Break haven’t been great despite striking out 19 against four walks. He gave up seven runs against the Braves and four runs against the Nationals and wasn’t generating ground balls like he did in the first half. Could be just a random blip or it could be a sign as Godley’s track record and projections veer closer to average than ace.

For St. Louis, Luke Weaver will make his first start of the year with Adam Wainwright taking what is hopefully a short stint on the disabled list. Weaver has appeared in two MLB games this year, striking out two against one walk in three innings. Last season was a bit of mixed bag at the major league level. He started off very strong, but fell off steeply enough at the end of the season that his numbers were pretty pedestrian. In Triple-A this season, he’s been dominant, with 69 strikeouts and just 14 walks, good for a 2.91 FIP and 1.96 ERA. He’s certainly earned this shot.

On Friday, Robbie Ray will pitch for Arizona. Ray had a bit of a mini-breakout last season, and has continued that this year. The lefty has struck out 31% of batters. He does walk his fair share, but not enough to make him ineffective. He has a 3.91 FIP, which is 10% better than league average given his home park and a very good 3.15 ERA. Ray has given up eight homers in six starts and his strikeouts were down in both starts since the All-Star Break, but it is hard to read too much into that. Michael Wacha is scheduled to start for the Cardinals.

Zack Greinke goes for the Diamondbacks on Saturday. You know about Greinke. After a tough year in 2016, Greinke has rebounded strongly with a fantastic FIP, ERA and 3.2 WAR. He only pitched five innings with three strikeouts and three walks in his first start after the break, but pitched eight innings of two-run ball against the Braves with six strikeouts and no walks. Mike Leake, who was better last time out, pitches for St. Louis.

On Sunday, the final game before the trade deadline for the Cardinals, they will face Taijuan Walker. The 24-year-old righty is having a good first year in Arizona after coming over in the Jean Segura-Mitch Haniger trade. His last two starts have come against the Braves and he’s given up a homer in each game, but struck out 10 against just one walk. He throws a sinker, a slider, and an occasional curve, but it is his fourseam fastball that he throws more than half the time that gets batters out. Lance Lynn is the currently scheduled starter for the Cardinals.

Tonight, July 27, 6:15 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest

Friday, July 28, 7:15 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest

Saturday, July 29, 6:15 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest

Sunday, July 30, 1:15 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest