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Series Preview 8/22-25: Rockies vs. Cardinals

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MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

After last night’s rain-shortened loss, the Cardinals are 67-58 and a half-game back of the Cubs in the National League Central division at the start of play on Thursday. St. Louis is 7-3 in its last 10 games and will welcome the Colorado Rockies to town for a four-game series starting Thursday night. The Rockies are 58-69, in the basement of the National League West.

On Thursday afternoon, the Cardinals recalled reliever Dominic Leone from Triple-A Memphis and optioned Junior Fernandez. The move was to get a fresh arm at the big-league level, as Fernandez worked two innings on Wednesday night and would have likely been unavailable for the next night or two.

In the first of four games on Thursday evening, Miles Mikolas and German Marquez will be the starting pitching matchup. Mikolas has allowed five earned runs in each of his last two starts - which have both been five innings. This will be Mikolas’ 26th start of the season and 13th at home. Right-handed batters are hitting .251 off Mikolas this season, compared to the .308 that lefties have managed. Mikolas has allowed four homers in his last 10 innings, and Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado has nine long balls in his last 15 games.

Marquez will make his team-leading 28th start of the season on Thursday. In 168 innings of work this season, Marquez has maintained a 1.77 BB/9 rate - his lowest in four seasons in the Majors. So, it’s no surprise that the .298 OBP that is opponents have managed is also a personal best. Marquez has a 3.52 ERA in 14 road starts this season, with 171:33 strikeout-to-walk ratio for the season as a whole. Paul Goldschmidt is 10-for-26 with two doubles and four homers in his career facing Marquez.

Jack Flaherty and Peter Lambert will start on Friday evening. Flaherty has a 0.83 ERA in his last seven starts, with 55 strikeouts in 43 13 innings dating back to July 16th. Four of Flaherty’s last six starts have been away from Busch Stadium, so we’ll see if Flaherty performs even better back on his home mound.

Lambert is a 22-year-old right-hander who the Rockies drafted back in 2015. Lambert made his Major League debut back in early June and has made 13 starts for Colorado this summer. Lambert worked a quality start against the Marlins in his last outing and has not allowed a home run in his last 11 frames.

On Saturday, we will see Dakota Hudson and Chi Chi Gonzalez. Hudson has not allowed a run in his last 13 innings pitched into the seventh in his last start; that was his first time doing that since July 23rd. Hudson has not given up a home run since the end of July but has walked 11 batters in 20 13 innings this month.

Gonzalez, a first-round pick of the Rangers back in 2013, will appear in his eighth game and make his seventh start on Saturday. Gonzalez held the Diamondbacks to two runs in his six innings of work back on August 19th, his first six-inning outing as a member of the Rockies.

Michael Wacha in the series finale for the Cardinals on Sunday. The Rockies have not publicly confirmed their rotation plans for Sunday, at this time. Wacha has shown signs of improvement over the last week and will look to give the Cardinals some length when he takes the mound on Sunday. Wacha worked four innings against the Brewers in his last start but held Milwaukee scoreless on just three base hits.

So, to recap:

Thursday, 8/22, 6:45 | Mikolas vs. Marquez | FSMW, KMOX, WJIR, CRN

Friday, 8/23, 7:15 | Flaherty vs. Lambert | FSMW, KMOX, WJIR, CRN

Saturday, 8/24, 6:15 | Hudson vs. Gonzalez | FS1, FSMW, KMOX, WJIR, CRN

Sunday, 8/25, 1:15 | Wacha vs. TBA | FSMW, KMOX, WJIR, CRN

Notes from around the league:

  • The Pirates requested release waivers for Francisco Cervelli on Thursday and the catcher is closing in on a deal with the Braves. Cervelli has been with the Pirates since 2015 but has appeared in only 34 games with Pittsburgh this season due to concussions.
  • Ryan Pressly, a key Astros reliever, will miss most of the remaining regular season after he has arthroscopic knee surgery on Friday. Its hard to say if Pressly will recover in time to join the Astros in the postseason - and if he will be the same pitcher, shall he return.