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Series Preview 5/6-8: Phillies vs. Cardinals

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Washington Nationals Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Cardinals are back home in St. Louis after a roadtrip that featured three wins in four games against the Nationals and the Cubs sweeping them out of Wrigley Field in a three-game series over the weekend. The Cardinals, with a 20-14 overall record (and a 12-4 at Busch Stadium), will take on the Phillies three times this week in a series that will open on Monday.

Entering play on Monday, the Cubs lead the National League Central division by a half-game, with their 19-12 record. The 19-14 Phillies lead the East. The Rays are still the best team in baseball, in terms of winning percentage, with a .636 - a 21-12 record.

On Sunday on his rehab assignment, Carlos Martinez pitched a scoreless inning for the Class-A Peoria Chiefs. Martinez needed only six pitches to induce three groundball outs in the fifth inning.

In the series opener on Monday, Miles Mikolas will take the mound at 7:05 PM Central time. Mikolas limited the Nationals to one run in his six innings of work last Wednesday. Mikolas will look to keep the ball in the park for the second straight start. Looking at the Phillies leaderboards, Rhys Hoskins leads the team with 10 homers, followed by Maikel Franco with seven, and Bryce Harper with six.

Vince Velasquez will go for the Phillies. Velasquez enters the day with a .222 opponents’ batting average; his career best was a .240 back in 2015. In 17 23 innings of work on the road this year, Velasquez had a 1.53 ERA with 20 punchouts.

Tuesday’s contest will feature Dakota Hudson and Aaron Nola at 6:45. Hudson posted career highs in his last outing, with seven strikeouts in his six-inning outing. This will be Hudson’s first MLB outing against the Phillies.

Nola comes into this series leading the club with 38 strikeouts. That’s one of the few positive numbers for Nola so far in 2019. Glancing at Nola’s batted ball splits, 24.8 percent have been line drives; that is up over five percent from last year. His hard contact is also up to 29.7, an increase of greater than four percent.

The finale of this series is set for Wednesday at 12:15, with Jack Flaherty going in line for the Cardinals. Flaherty ranks fifth in the National League with an 11.05 K/9, a category led by Max Scherzer’s 12.04 rate. This will be Flaherty’s fifth start of the season at Busch Stadium, where he has a 1.88 ERA in 24 innings entering this series.

Jerad Eickhoff will take the ball for the Phillies. Eickhoff has a 1.78 FIP in 22 innings this season and has not allowed a home run. Pair that with a .192 BAA, and it’s fair to say Eickhoff won't be an easy matchup for the Cardinals.

So, to recap:

Monday, 5/6, 7:05 | Mikolas v Velasquez | ESPN, FSMW, KMOX, CRN

Tuesday, 5/7, 6:45 | Hudson v Nola | MLB Network, FSMW, KMOX, CRN

Wednesday, 5/8, 12:15 | Flaherty v Eickhoff | MLB Network, FSMW, KMOX, CRN

Notes from around the league:

  • Reds rookie Nick Senzel hit two homers in Monday’s game against the Giants and has three in his first four games in the Majors.
  • Red Sox lefty David Price was placed on the injured list on Monday with elbow tendinitis.
  • Ron Darling, a former pitcher for the Mets and Athletics (and a brief stint with the Expos), announced on Monday that he has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Darling is a member of the SNY broadcast team for the Mets and does some work on MLB Network. Darling’s doctors believe it is treatable, and he hopes to be back in the booth in June.