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Series Preview 6/21-23: Angels vs. Cardinals

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Miami Marlins v St Louis Cardinals Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

After splitting a four-game series with the Marlins this week, capped off with two extra-inning games, the Cardinals open the weekend two games above .500, at 38-36. The Cubs are in first place in the division, and the Brewers are in second. Just three games separate these three clubs as the schedule shifts to late June and the midway point of the 2019 season nears.

This weekend has been highlighted on the calendars of many Cardinals fans across the region, as Albert Pujols will step in the Busch Stadium batter’s box for the first time since 2011 with the Angels in town for a three-game series. The Angels are 38-38 and in fourth place in the American League West, trailing the Astros by 10 games. The Rangers and Athletics are in second and third place, respectively, with the Mariners in the basement.

In the first game of this series on Friday evening, Michael Wacha and Griffin Canning will be the starting pitching matchup. Wacha allowed six runs, including homers to Pete Alonso and J.D. Davis, in his four innings of work against the Mets back on June 15. Wacha will be the first Cardinals pitcher tasked with taming Angels star Mike Trout. Trout is 12-for-28 (.429) with four homers and 12 RBIs in his last seven games.

Canning is 23 years old and in his rookie season with the Angels. Drafted out of UCLA in the second round back in 2017, Canning will make his 10th start of the year on Friday. Canning has a 0.99 WHIP and a 9.66 K/9 rate in 50 13 innings of work in 2019. This will be Canning’s first start against a National League Central opponent.

Dakota Hudson and Felix Pena will go on Saturday afternoon. Hudson will make his 15th start of the season on Saturday and look to extend his streak of seven straight quality starts dating back to May 12. Opponents have hit .274 off Hudson in 78 23 frames this year, and he’ll face an Angels lineup with three, high-average hitters; Trout is batting .302, Tommy La Stella .301, and David Fletcher at .299.

Pena will make his fifth start of the season and first since mid-April. Pena, a Cubs reliever for 36 games across the 2016 and 2017 seasons, has allowed 32 earned runs in 61 13 innings this year for Los Angeles. Pena has allowed 12 homers and walked 19 batters, and left-handed batters are hitting .288 off him. We’ll see if this translates to success for Matt Carpenter, Kolten Wong, and Dexter Fowler.

Sunday evening’s series finale will feature Miles Mikolas and Tyler Skaggs. Mikolas worked six scoreless innings against the Marlins in his last start, a nice rebound after he allowed five runs against the same club the week prior. This will be Mikolas’ fourth career appearance against the Angels and first since he was with the Rangers in 2014.

The lefty Skaggs has been in the league since 2012 and is in his fifth season with the Angels. Skaggs has made 13 starts this season, and his most recent one was the best he has had so far. Against the Blue Jays back on June 18, Skaggs held Toronto to one run - a solo homer by Lourdes Gurriel Jr. - in 7 13 frames with six punchouts and no walks.

So, to recap:

Friday, 6/21, 7:15 | Wacha v Canning | FSMW, KMOX, CRN, WJIR

Saturday, 6/22, 1:15 | Hudson v Pena | FSMW, KMOX, CRN, WJIR

Sunday, 6/23, 6:05 | Mikolas v Skaggs | ESPN, KMOX, CRN, WJIR

Notes from around the league:

  • The Yankees activated slugger Aaron Judge off the injured list on Friday, just in time to face the Astros this weekend.
  • Dallas Keuchel will make his Braves debut on Friday when he makes the start against the Nationals. This will be his first regular-season game since last September.