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Cardinals should destroy the Pirates

A series preview

St Louis Cardinals v San Diego Padres Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

The Cardinals more or less took care of business in the last two series’ taking three of four from both the Giants and the Padres. Including the split with the Brewers, the Cardinals have won seven of their last 10. If they do that again over their next 10, they will be in good shape with just a dozen more games after that. The Cardinals should destroy the Pirates.*

*.561 W% with title, .448 W% without title.

The Pirates are a more formidable opponent than the Giants or Padres, but the Pirates as currently constituted might not be as good as their mediocre 67-74 record. The Pirates are not very healthy and have a pitching issue for this series.

Consider the following:

  • Josh Harrison is on the disabled list with a fractured hand. Max Moroff is Harrison’s replacement and he has a 64 wC+ in 100 plate appearances and his projections aren’t that much better.
  • Gregory Polanco has been out for a while, and might not come back this weekend, but probably won’t play much. His replacement, Jordan Luplow, has had a good year in the minors, but might not be ready for the majors.
  • Francisco Cervelli is on the disabled list and Chris Stewart and Elias Diaz have replaced him. Neither one has hit at all this year and neither one is expected to.
  • While still dangerous, Andrew McCutchen’s hasn’t hit well lately, and his season-long wRC+ of 119 might be pretty close to his current talent level instead of the hitting monster he showed for parts of this season.
  • The Pirates two best pitchers are probably Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon. Neither one will face the Cardinals this series.

As for the rest of the team, Starling Marte has yet to come around since returning from his PED suspension. David Freese is having a decent season and has reached base in 12 of his last 24 plate appearances. Josh Bell continues to have a solid season with the bat, though playing first base and running the bases like he plays for the Cardinals has kept his value down a bit. Jordy Mercer remains a glove-first shortstop.

In tonight’s game, Trevor Williams will pitch for the Pirates. This is what we had to say about Williams last month before the two teams played:

Many probably thought this would be Tyler Glasnow’s spot in the rotation by now, but Williams has pitched pretty well, keeping the ball in the park to make up for a lack of strikeouts. He relies on his fourseamer, but between that pitch and his sinker, he goes to a fastball 70% of the time. He also uses a change and slider. He’s only given up one home run in six starts since the All-Star Break.

Against the Cardinals, Williams gave up three homers and eight runs. Since that start, he’s given up just two runs in 20 innings, striking out 14 and walking eight. Luke Weaver gets the start for the Cardinals.

On Saturday, Chad Kuhl will go for Pittsburgh. Kuhl doesn’t strike out a lot of hitters and walks batters more than 10% of the time. He succeeds by preventing homers. Against the Cardinals last month, he struck out six against one walk in five innings and gave up just one run. He pitched well in his last start against the Cubs, going seven scoreless with eight strikeouts and two walks. Carlos Martinez will pitch for the Cardinals.

Ivan Nova takes the mound for the Pirates on Sunday. Nova never walks anyone, but he doesn’t get a lot of strikeouts and has given up too many homers this year. He pitched 5.2 innings against the Cardinals last month giving up three runs and walking none with five strikeouts. That performance was followed by two rough outings that caused his last start to be skipped. Michael Wacha will start for St. Louis.

Tonight, September 8, 7:15 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest.

Saturday, September 9, 6:15 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest

Sunday, September 10, 1:15 pm CT, Fox Sports Midwest