After opening the season with each other, the Mets and Cardinals will face each other for the second and final time this regular season during the week - the final full week of April. The series will begin on Tuesday at Busch Stadium. The Mets enter the series with a 14-6 record, and the Cardinals are 13-8.
I will note that both teams lead their respective divisions, if you were interested in such news on the 24th of April..
Tuesday was in line to be Adam Wainwright’s day to start; nonetheless, Wainwright was placed on the disabled list on Sunday with elbow inflammation. Thanks to Monday’s off day, the team was able to ‘skip’ Wainwright’s spot in the rotation and allow the loop of starters to flow on regular rest. Wainwright’s spot will come up again on Saturday, so the team will (most likely) have to make an additional move at that time.
In the opener, Luke Weaver will take on Zack Wheeler at 7:15 PM Central time. Weaver had some trouble in his last start on 4/19, when he faced the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Weaver allowed six earned runs in four innings; this was the first start of the season that he allowed more than two earned runs. Weaver will look to get back on track against New York, a team he held one run over five innings in his first start of 2018. With a double off Weaver in that start, Jay Bruce is the only current Met with an extra-base hit off the Cardinals’ hurler.
Wheeler has made two starts for the Mets this season - 4/11 against the Marlins and 4/17 against the Nationals. He allowed one run in seven innings in Miami and surrendered three runs in his six-inning outing when the Nationals came to New York. Wheeler has had success against a few Cardinals, including Marcell Ozuna and Jedd Gyorko; Wheeler has fanned Ozuna six times in 15 at-bats and Gyorko five times in nine. Wheeler has also had success against him; Paul DeJong has hit two homers off the righty.
The middle game of the series will feature Michael Wacha and Steven Matz. This game, too, has a start time of 7:15 PM. Wacha faced the Mets in his first start of the year and surrendered four runs over 4 2⁄3 innings; outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and catcher Travis d’Arnaud homered off Wacha. Those long balls are the only homers hit off Wacha in his four starts, totaling 21 1/3 frames. Todd Frazier has had the greatest success off Wacha in the past, with seven hits - including two doubles and two home runs - in 26 at-bats. Wacha has controlled the Mets’ other smashers, holding Adrian Gonzalez to a .143 (2-for-14) batting mark and Jay Bruce to a 1-for-31 stretch with 13 punchouts.
Matz has made four starts for the Mets in 2018. He has not provided much length in these starts, failing to get out of the sixth inning in all four and pitching in to the fifth frame twice. In 18 1⁄3 innings between the four starts, Matz has a 4.42 ERA and a .203 opponent’s batting average. Matz has allowed five home runs and eight walks, striking out 23 batters. Matz has struggled against St. Louis in the past, particularly DeJong and Pham. Off the left-handed Matz, DeJong is 3-for-3 with a pair of homers, and Pham is 4-for-4 with a long ball.
Carlos Martinez will get the ball for the Cardinals in Thursday’s matinee against Noah Syndergaard for the Mets. This matchup of aces is set to begin at 12:15 PM Central time. Martinez has dazzled over his last four starts. In 27 1⁄3 innings dating back to April 4, Martinez has a 0.33 ERA with 32 strikeouts. His only subpar start of the year came against these Mets on Opening Day. In 4 1⁄3 frames, Martinez was touched for five runs (four earned) on four hits and six walks. Perhaps Martinez had some pressing nerves?
Syndergaard has been no less than sharp in his first five starts of the year for New York. In 27 1⁄3 innings, Syndergaard has held his opponents to a .229 batting average with 39 strikeouts and just five walks. Syndergaard allowed four runs in his Opening Day assignment against St. Louis, as Yadier Molina and Jose Martinez took him deep. He did, however, record 10 strikeouts, and the power-heavy Cardinals will have another tough task when facing the Mets’ frontline hurler.