The Cardinals continue their season-opening road trip in Milwaukee, as they confront the upstarts-- Hooligans, I say!-- that left them in third place last season rather than second. This year, the Cardinals will set the tone by appropriately Destroying the upstart Brewers.
The Brewers are no pushovers, mind you. They have seemingly bought into the notion that a window is opening for them, and have tried to force it open with a crowbar; this past winter, they took advantage of Miami's Project Wolverine to trade top prospect Lewis Brinson in a deal for Christian Yelich. They also inked Lorenzo Cain to a FA deal, adding a couple of marquee talents to an already fearsome lineup. While the Cardinals can say "best outfield in the NL" with a relatively straight face, the Brewers might challenge for that title. Ponder this: the Brewers are now platooning career OF star Ryan Braun and 2017 breakout Eric Thames at 1B, because the nine alotted lineup slots is too paltry a number for all the sluggers in Miller Park. Combine this with the fact that Miller Park is an excellent field for sluggers to play at, and you get the potential for some real messes up north.
If that was the whole story, I can see you being skeptical over my conclusion. For all their vaunted power, though, the Brewers are also a team with a glaring weakness: Pitching. Jhoulys Chacin, Brent Suter, and Brandon Woodruff round out a rotation headlined by Zach Davies and Chase Anderson. That's not a great look, and it doesn't stack up well even if you lopped the top 2 or 3 off the Cardinals' rotation. Jimmy Nelson is set to help some later in the year, but he's not back from his shoulder injury yet, and the farm is thin in Milwaukee. As to bullpens, the Cardinals should have a pretty significant advantage there as well.
Here are the expected matchups:
Today (1:10 Central): Miles "Lizard King" Mikolas v. Zach Davies - slight advantage to Davies, though pretty wide error bars given Mikolas's limited track record.
Tomorrow (6:40 Central): Jack Flaherty v. Chase Anderson - give me Flaherty every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Wait, belay that - I don't want to give Mike any ideas here.
Wednesday (6:40 Central): Carlos "El Gallo Fantastico" Martinez v. Jhoulys "who?" Chacin - this isn't even a question.
The upshot: The Cardinals have the skill to silence this Brewers lineup, and Milwaukee lacks the arms to answer against St. Louis's highly respectable bats. Miller Park is a bandbox, but that cuts both ways. Expect to see some DeJong Dongs, El Oso Grande to take some strong rips, and a ton of struck out Brewers hanging their heads in shame. Let's Go Cardinals!