After a sweep of the Giants over the weekend, the Cardinals enter the final week of the regular season with an 87-69 record and hold possession of the second National League Wild Card spot. This week, the Cardinals will try to grab that top seed, as the 89-67 Brewers are in town for a three-game series as the two clubs strive to clinch postseason berths.
The Cubs lead the Central division by 2 1⁄2 games over Milwaukee and 4 1⁄2 over St. Louis. The Rockies pose the only threat in the Wild Card standings, sitting 1 1⁄2 games behind the Cardinals. The Cubs are hosting the Pirates in Chicago this week, and the Rockies are welcoming the Phillies to Coors Field. The Phillies were just swept in Atlanta by the Braves, who clinched the East division over the weekend.
In the series opener in St. Louis on Monday evening, Jack Flaherty will take the mound for the Cardinals at 7:15 PM Central time. Flaherty was roughed up in his last outing, with five earned runs allowed across 4 2⁄3 innings in Atlanta on 9/19. This will be Flaherty’s four start of the season against the Brewers, a team he has fanned 29 times and limited to just two runs across 18 innings of work.
The Brewers have opted to try a ‘bullpen game’ in the series opener, and Dan Jennings will make the start. Chase Anderson was initially in line to start the game. Following Jennings out of the bullpen will be some combination of Milwaukee’s top relievers: Joakim Soria, Brandon Woodruff, and Josh Hader.
The middle matchup of the series is set to feature Austin Gomber and Gio Gonzalez at 7:15 PM. Gomber debuted in early June of this year and has appeared in 27 games, including 10 as a starter. For the 24-year-old lefty, this will be his first starting assignment the Brewers and just his second meeting overall. Gomber has maintained a 0.52 HR/9 rate in 69 1⁄3 frames, so we’ll see if he can keep Brewers sluggers Jesus Aguilar, Christian Yelich, and Travis Shaw in check; they enter the series with, respectively, 33, 32, and 31 homers.
Gonzalez enters his Tuesday-evening work with a 5.59 ERA over his last seven starts, including a five-run outing he had against these Cardinals while still a member of the Nationals’ pitching staff. For Gonzalez, who was drafted by the White Sox and came up with the Athletics before joining the Nationals, this will be his fourth start for the Brewers.
Wednesday’s series finale will start a bit earlier - 6:10 PM - and showcase John Gant and Jhoulys Chacin. Walks have really blown up for Gant, who has 13 in 18 innings of work in September. In August, Gant walked only 12 in more than 32 frames. It will be interesting to see if Gant can settle things down and return to the effectiveness we witnessed last month.
Chacin will make his 34th start of the season and set a new career high after 32 last season with the Padres. Chacin has been a solid pitcher on the road this season, holding opponents to a .216 average in 108 1⁄3 innings away from Miller Park. Whether this will hold true in St. Louis on Wednesday is up for debate; Matt Adams is 4-for-9 facing Chacin, and Marcell Ozuna and Jedd Gyorko each have six hits off the 30-year-old.