Tonight and tomorrow night is good for night owls and Cardinals fans living on the West Coast as the team begins a eight-game stretch in California with four games against the Giants. The Cardinals could really use some wins. The Cardinals will destroy the Giants.*
*With title, .541 W%. Without title., .448 W%.
So the Giants aren’t very good this year. I’d check a calendar and use basic math knowledge to determine if this was an even or odd year and how that’s supposed to work with regard to San Francisco, but we aren’t a superstitious bunch around here* so that seems pretty pointless.
*See previous asterisk
Buster Posey is still Buster Posey, but he has been less Posey-like over the last week as he sits for a thumb injury. He could be back for this series which would make the Giants lineup slightly more potent. Brandon Belt was having a solid season, but he is out with concussion symptoms and might not return this season. After that the Giants are a mess.
Starting pitcher Ty Blach’s wRC+ of 78 is tied with Brandon Crawford and only slightly behind Hunter Pence. Madison Bumgarner’s 88 wRC+ sits between Denard Span and Nick Hundley at 7th on the team. With Belt out, the Giants most prolific hitter on the season with at least 200 plate appearances is Joe Panik, who just returned from the disabled list. He’s been below average as a hitter this year. Austin Slater has a 107 wRC+ in 107 PA this year, but he’s on the disabled list.
It's August, and the no. 3 hitter is someone who has 293 plate appearances this season and zero home runs. https://t.co/3Mbr8MaP7g— Grant Brisbee (@mccoveychron) August 30, 2017
That’s what is going on with the Giants on offense. Earlier this season, Aledmys Diaz was demoted to the minors for having a 78 wRC+. The Giants have an 81 wRC+. Ryder Jones is the current first baseman. He’s a 23-year-old lefty who kept getting promoted without hitting well at any point until this season in Triple-A. The success he had in 273 Triple-A plate appearances has yet to carry over into the majors as he has a 52 wRC+ and his projections aren’t much better. Jarret Parker is another lefty on the Giants and he’s been up and down the past three years, but hasn’t been able to stick.
Do you ever wonder how crazy it would be if the Cardinals added Allen Craig to the team right now and just made him an everyday starter despite the fact he couldn’t get back to the majors with the Red Sox? The Giants are playing Pablo Sandoval regularly.
This is a four-game series so the Cardinals are going to see all the Giants starters except for Johnny Cueto. Madison Bumgarner gets the call this evening. He’s good at pitching, but he’s only made 13 starts this season because he heroically tried to save multiple puppies from a tree.*
*How did those puppies get in that tree, you ask? Johnny Cueto put them there, of course, as Hunter Pence looked on. Pretty sure that’s how Bumgarner hurt himself. There’s no way he would be stupid enough to risk his health and his team’s success by selfishly riding a dirt bike. No way, right?
Michael Wacha, who has definitely never pitched against San Francisco—maybe in the regular season but definitely not in the postseason as far as I can remember—will start tonight.
On Friday, Chris Stratton pitches for the Giants. Stratton pitched pretty poorly in Triple-A this season, but he has pitched pretty well in the big leagues, with a 3.21 FIP and 1.52 ERA over his last four starts. He walks a bunch of guys, but he has kept the ball in the park, which might be somewhat aided by the Giants home park. He throws a low-90s fourseamer a majority of the time and uses a curveball about 20% of the time. He’ll mix in an occasional slider and change as well.
Jack Flaherty will make his major league debut in this game. Flaherty has moved up the ranks quickly since being picked 34th overall in 2014 out of Harvard-Westlake high school in Southern California. More on him in tomorrow morning’s daily post.
On Saturday, Jeff Samardzija will pitch for the the Giants. He’s had some pretty rotten luck all season long, but his FIP is 3.44, an indication that he’s actually pitched well. He just pitched a complete game shutout against the Padres and has six quality starts in his last seven outings. He doesn’t throw a single pitch more than one-third of the time, throwing a sinker (30%), fourseamer (20%), slider (20%), curve (14%), splitter (10%) and cutter (7%)*. Lance Lynn will start for the Cardinals and throw with considerably less variety.
*These numbers are rounded, wiseacre
Matt Moore is the scheduled starter for Sunday. Moore has pitched worse than Samardzija, but has also had some bad luck, which makes me think the Giants defense hasn’t been very good this year. The lefty actually had three good starts in a row, but then gave up five runs, striking out just two Padres in his last outing. Luke Weaver will start for St. Louis.
9/1 Update: Madison Bumgarner missed the first game with the flu, and the team decided to get Cueto back for Friday’s game. That means Stratton pitches Saturday and Samardzija pitches Sunday.
In other Cardinals news, John Gant has been called up to replace Mike Leake on the active roster. Kevin Siegrist has been DFA’d, presumably to clear a spot for Sandy Alcantara on the 40-man so they can call him up on Saturday. I would expect him to get eased into the bullpen because that’s what Mike Matheny does, but Alcantara throws hard and I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do.
Tonight, August 31, 9:15 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest
Friday, September 1, 9:15 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest
Saturday, September 2, 3:05 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest, FS1
Sunday, September 3, 3:05 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest