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Series Preview 7/12-14: Diamondbacks vs. Cardinals

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MLB: Atlanta Braves at St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

After a first half that featured several highs and as many lows, the Cardinals will open the second half of their 2019 campaign this weekend. Entering play on Friday, the Cardinals are 44-44, yet they are just two games out of first place in the National League Central division. In fact, only 4 12 games separate the last-place Reds from the Cubs at the top. Needless to say, the final months of this season will be very thrilling. St. Louis will start off with a three-game series against the Diamondbacks.

On Thursday, the Cardinals announced that they have activated Matt Carpenter off the injured list and placed Yadier Molina on the injured list with a right thumb tendon sprain. These two moves sent Rangel Ravelo back to Memphis and bumped Andrew Knizner up to the Majors. In addition, the Cardinals transferred Jordan Hicks to the 60-day injured list and selected the contract of Chasen Shreve.

On Friday, in their first game back from the All-Star break, Daniel Ponce de Leon will go for the Cardinals against Arizona’s Robbie Ray. Adam Wainwright was originally scheduled to start for the Cardinals, but the 37-year-old was scratched on Friday afternoon with back spasms.

The 27-year-old, left-handed Ray is in his sixth season in the Majors and fifth with the Diamondbacks. Three of Ray’s last four starts have been quality, and Ray ranks fourth in the National League with 137 punchouts, trailing Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, and Stephen Strasburg. Pretty good company.

Saturday’s ballgame will feature Dakota Hudson and Merrill Kelly. Hudson entered the All-Star break with a 2.54 ERA over his last seven starts and will make his 18th start of the year this weekend. Hudson has a 1.27 HR/9 rate in 92 13 innings this season but will have to face Arizona’s slugging cast; Ketel Marte leads the team with 20 long balls, followed by Eduardo Escobar with 18 and Christian Walker with 17 homers.

After spending time in the Korean Baseball Organization, the Diamondbacks took a chance at signing Kelly back in December. Fast forward seven months, and Kelly will make his 19th start of the season (and his MLB career) on Saturday. Kelly has a 0.93 WHIP over his last seven starts dating back to June 2nd, and his assignment this weekend is his first against a Central division team since April, when he held the Pirates to two runs in seven innings.

The series finale on Sunday is set to have Miles Mikolas and Zack Greinke on the mound. Mikolas gave up four runs against the Giants in his last start and has allowed eight runs in his last 15 innings. On a positive note, Mikolas has walked only two batters in his past 21 innings and opponents are hitting just .223 against him at Busch Stadium.

Greinke is in his fourth year with the Diamondbacks and this is shaping out to be his best season in the desert. Greinke leads Arizona’s staff in several categories, with a 3.15 FIP, a .299 opponents’ batting average, and 122 innings pitched. Carpenter returned from the injured list just in time to face Greinke, who he has hit .345 (10-for-29) off of with two homers and two doubles. In contrast, Dexter Fowler and Paul Goldschmidt are a combined 7-for-47 with 23 strikeouts facing Greinke.

So, to recap:

Friday, 7/12, 7:15 | Ponce de Leon v Ray | FSMW, KMOX, CRN, WJIR

Saturday, 7/13, 6:15 | Hudson v Kelly | FSMW, KMOX, CRN, WJIR

Sunday, 7/14, 1:15 | Mikolas v Greinke | FSMW, KMOX, CRN, WJIR

Notes from around the league:

  • Greinke is just one of the names that are floating around as the trade deadline nears. The Tigers are open for business on Matt Boyd, the Indians are getting attention for Trevor Bauer, and the Mets are listening on Noah Syndergaard.
  • Former Cardnal Shelby Miller signed a Minor League deal with the Brewers on Thursday, so there’s that..