Welcome back “bitter” fans who faithlessly abandoned a mediocre team. After playing poorly for a couple months, then playing well for a couple months, the Cardinals have begun the last two months of the season by winning a bunch of games in a row. So what does it all mean? The Cardinals should destroy the Braves.*
*W% with title, .579 (94-win pace). W% without title, .448 (73-win pace).
Let’s take a quick look at the standings.
The Cardinals playoff odds, according to Fangraphs are up to 34.7% as high as they have been in the last two months. Those odds are due to a 20.1% chance of winning the division and a 14.5% chance of winning the Wild Card. It is appropriate to add those two together because the odds are based on thousands and thousands of simulations and so in 34.7% of those simulations the Cardinals make the playoffs.
The Cardinals are chasing three teams, the Cubs, who are a game ahead of the Cardinals, the Rockies who are 6.5 games ahead in the Wild Card, and the Diamondbacks, who are 5.5 games ahead of the Cardinals. All three teams are projected to win 88-89 games with the Cardinals near 84. St. Louis needs to catch just one of these teams to make the postseason.
As for the Braves, they are 51-61, which is about what would be expected. They no longer have Jaime Garcia, who was traded to the Twins, who traded him to the Yankees. Dansby Swanson struggled enough that the Braves sent him to the minors, but he is back up with the big league club and still has a very bright future. Players like new second baseman Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna could form a core for a future contending club along with Swanson, Ender Inciarte—both formerly of Arizona—and the team’s big star Freddie Freeman.
Freeman missed a bunch of time earlier this year with a wrist injury. He hasn’t matched his crazy pre-injury production since returning, but has still been solidly above average. Inciarte is a light-hitting defense-first center fielder, basically what the Cardinals hope to get from Magneuris Sierra someday. Elsewhere in the outfield, Matt Kemp and Nick Markakis are average hitters, but Kemp is on the disabled list, which has made room for:
Matt Adams, left fielder. The experiment—which is a little more justifiable for a rebuilding team without an incentive to win games thisyear--continues.
If Yadier Molina plays better angry, note that Brandon Phillips is on the Braves. At catcher, Tyler Flowers has had a really good season with a 127 wRC+.
Tonight, Mike Foltynewicz starts for the Braves in St. Louis. The young righty throws hat's, averaging 96 mph on his fatball. He's a bit above average on strikeouts, about average in walks, but has given up too many homers leading to a 4.49 FIP with an ERA just under four. His last start against the Marlins was one of hus best of the season, striking out 11 with no walks, giving up only a solo shot in 6.1 innings. Adam Wainwright will pitch for the Cardinals.
Tomorrow, Lucas Sims makes his third career start. The 23-year-old righty was walking people like crazy in the munors before this season. He seems to have gotten that issue under control/nailed it. So far, he has used a fourseamer, sinker, slider, change, and curve with usage split pretty evenly. The fastball sits in the low 90s. Carlos Martinez goes fir the Cardinals.
R.A. Dickey gets the call on Sunday for Atlanta. Dickey is a 42-year-old knuckleballer who isn't too far from league average. That's about it. Obligatory: He doesn't have a UCL. Michael Wacha is going for the Cardinals.
Tonight, August 11, 7:15 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest.
Saturday, August 12, 6:15 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest.
Sunday, August 13, 1:15 pm CT, Gox Sports Midwest.
Other relevant games:
Rockies at Marlins
Cubs at Diamondbacks