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Series Preview 7/22-25: Cardinals at Pirates

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Cincinnati Reds David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

A successful series in Cincinnati puts the Cardinals at 51-47 as we enter the final full week of July. With seven wins in their last 10 games, St. Louis is in third place in the National League Central division, just 2 12 games back of the first-place Cubs and a half-game behind the Brewers.

The Cardinals will finish up their first road trip of the second half with a stop in Pittsburgh for a four-game series at PNC Park that will begin on Monday evening.

On Monday, Trevor Williams and Daniel Ponce de Leon will be the pitching matchup. Williams has allowed 13 earned runs over his last 12 innings, logged in two starts against the Cubs. Opponents have hit .289 off Williams this season, by far the highest in his three seasons as a full-time starter. Williams held the Cardinals to one run in seven innings back in early May, but he did miss a month with a side strain shortly after. Jose Martinez is 7-for-20 facing Williams, and Paul Goldschmidt and Kolten Wong are both 5-for-11 against the 27-year-old.

Ponce de Leon will make his third start since taking over Michael Wacha’s former spot in the rotation. Ponce de Leon pulled in the fourth inning in his last start, which came against these Pirates, and charged with four runs.

Chris Archer and Dakota Hudson will go on Tuesday evening. Archer held the Cardinals to three runs in six innings back on July 17, whiffing eight batters along the way. With 10 strikeouts in the start before that, it’s not surprising that Archer’s 10.52 K/9 rate is notably up from last season’s 9.83.

Hudson will make his 20th start of the season and second against the Pirates. After a stretch of 44 innings between May 12th and June 16th, Hudson did not allow a single home run. Over his last 17 23 innings, Hudson has surrendered five long balls. Josh Bell leads the Pirates with 27 homers, and Starling Marte has hit four in his last nine games.

The Cardinals will go with Adam Wainwright on Wednesday, followed by Miles Mikolas for Thursday’s series finale. Wainwright was roughed up in his last start back on July 19, when the Reds scored seven runs and knocked him out in the fourth inning. This will be Wainwright’s 40th outing facing the Pirates, a team he has a managed a 177:63 strikeout-to-walk ratio against in 211 13 innings. As for Mikolas, after he tossed a complete-game shutout against the Pirates back on July 15th, he followed with a quality start against the Reds in his most recent start. This current Pittsburgh roster has a combined .648 OPS facing Mikolas with 34 strikeouts.

The Pirates have not confirmed their pitching plans for Wednesday and Thursday.

So, to recap:

Monday, 7/22, 6:05 | Ponce de Leon vs. Williams | FSMW, KMOX, CRN

Tuesday, 7/23, 6:05| Archer vs. Hudson | FSMW, KMOX, CRN

Wednesday, 7/24, 6:05 | TBD vs. Wainwright | FSMW, KMOX, CRN

Thursday, 7/25, 11:35 AM | TBD vs. Mikolas | MLB Network, FSMW, KMOX, CRN

Notes from around the league:

  • The Hall of Fame officially inducted its newest members on Sunday, with Mariano Rivera, Roy Halladay, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Harold Baines, and Lee Smith enshrined in Cooperstown as the Class of 2019.
  • As next Wednesday’s trade deadline nears, the market for starting pitching continues to hear up. Madison Bumgarner and Zack Greinke are garnering plenty of attention out west, while Marcus Stroman is an attractive option north of the border.