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Series Preview 8/3-5: Cardinals at Pirates

A weekend in the ‘burgh

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Cincinnati Reds
Gomber will take the mound for the Cardinals on Saturday.
David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off three wins in a four-game series with the Rockies, the Cardinals will look to transition that momentum over to their three-game set in Pittsburgh against the Pirates this weekend. The series will begin on Friday evening.

Entering play on Friday, the Cardinals and Pirates share 56-53 records, trailing the 62-46 Cubs and 63-49 Brewers atop the National League Central division. In the Wild Card race, the Brewers, Phillies, Diamondbacks, and Dodgers are all holding a piece of those two spots at this time.

In the series opener, Chris Archer will make his Pirates debut against John Gant at 6:05 PM Central time. The Pirates acquired Archer hours before the Trade Deadline, sending top prospects Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows to the Rays. In 17 starts for Tampa Bay, Archer had a 3.62 FIP and 102 strikeouts in 96 innings.

Gant is continuing to start in place of Michael Wacha, who is nursing a strained left oblique. This will be Gant’s ninth start and 16th appearance of the season for the Cardinals. Current Pirates are slashing .241/.303/.345 in 30 plate appearances against Gant, who has a 3.46 ERA in 26 innings on the road in 2018.

Saturday’s contest, another 6:05 PM start, will feature Ivan Nova and Austin Gomber. Nova will be making his 21st start of the season, his first against St. Louis since back in September of 2017. Nova’s opponent’s batting average is down to .274, his lowest since .269 back in 2015. Dexter Fowler is a career .385 (5-for-13) hitter facing Nova, and Yadier Molina, Jedd Gyorko, and Kolten Wong have all homered off the 31-year-old.

Gomber will make his second Major League start after a first that will be tough to top. In Cincinnati back on 7/24, Gomber recorded six hitless innings and finished his evening with 6 13 frames, allowing two runs on as many hits. This will be Gomber’s first time facing the Pirates since he twirled three scoreless innings against the club in his Major League debut in early June.

In Sunday’s series finale, Trevor Williams and Jack Flaherty will share the mound, with first pitch scheduled for 12:35 PM. Williams has a 2.92 ERA over his last seven starts and enters Sunday riding a streak of 17 scoreless innings. Williams’ start on Sunday will be his 22nd of the season, tying him with Jameson Taillon for the team lead.

Flaherty has hit a bit of a rough patch, unable to pitch beyond the fifth in four of his last five starts. In July, Flaherty had a 4.71 ERA in 28 23 innings over six starts. In three career starts against the Bucs, Flaherty has a 3.94 ERA with 11 strikeouts. Away from Busch Stadium this season, opponents are batting just .210 off Flaherty.