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Series Preview 9/10-12: Pirates vs. Cardinals

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The final three meetings with the Pirates of 2018

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at San Diego Padres Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a 3-3 roadtrip against the Nationals and Tigers, the Cardinals are back in St. Louis to begin a seven-game homestand. St. Louis will host the Pirates on Monday night for the opener of a three-game series.

Entering play on Monday, the Cubs have an 83-59 record that leads the National League Central division by two games over the Brewers and 4 12 games over the Cardinals. In the Wild Card, 82-62 Milwaukee and 79-64 St. Louis hold the two highly-coveted spots, with the Dodgers and Diamondbacks both within three games.

For the first time since May 13, the Cardinals will give the ball to Adam Wainwright at 7:15 PM Central time. Wainwright will work opposite of Trevor Williams. The 37-year-old Wainwright was sidelined in mid-May with right elbow inflammation and began his rehab work in August. In seven rehab starts, Wainwright logged 22 scoreless innings with a 25:4 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Wainwright worked at High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A.

In the second half of the season, Williams has been very tough to crack. Across eight starts since the All-Star Break, Williams has maintained a 0.72 ERA with 31 strikeouts. Seven of those eight starts have been at least six innings, including his outing against the Cardinals on 8/29. In his career facing the Cardinals, Matt Carpenter is 7-for-16 (.438) with three long balls.

Tuesday’s contest will feature Miles Mikolas and Joe Musgrove in another 7:15 PM start. This will be Mikolas’s 29th start of the season and his fifth against the Buccos. Mikolas enters the series leading the NL Central with a 3.06 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and 173 23 innings pitched. Mikolas will look to continue his home-field dominance, as he has a 2.31 ERA in 14 starts at Busch Stadium.

For Musgrove, five of his last six starts have been at least six innings in length. In fact, Musgrove has only three starts this season that have not reached the sixth-inning mark; Musgrove has a career-high 17 starts in 2018. Musgrove allowed five runs on back on 8/30 against the Cardinals, with home runs from Harrison Bader and John Gant leading the charge.

In Wednesday’s series finale, Daniel Poncdeleon will get another assignment for the Cardinals, and Jameson Taillon will go for the Pirates in a 12:15 PM start. Poncedeleon will be appearing in his 10th Major League game and his fourth as a starter. Cardinals manager Mike Shildt is using Poncedeleon’s versatility (his ability to work as a reliever or starter) to the team’s advantage, as it allows him to create the best starting-pitching matchups for future games. This will be Poncedeleon’s first outing against Pittsburgh.

Taillon is in the midst of a very solid stretch for the Pirates. Over his last seven starts dating back to 7/31, Taillon has a 2.56 ERA over 45 23 innings of work. The 26-year-old Taillon has made two starts against the Cardinals this year, totaling 14 13 frames of three-run ball. In those outings, Taillon fanned 12 batters and issued only one walk.