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Series Preview 7/24-26: Pirates vs. Cardinals

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Baseball is back!

St Louis Cardinals Summer Workouts Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

With spring and a chunk of the summer spent wondering when we may see sports again, we finally have meaningful Major League Baseball upon us. After two games on Thursday night, there is a 14-game slate for Friday; the Cardinals will host the Pirates at Busch Stadium for this 2020 Opening Weekend. (We get an Opening Day in St. Louis for the first time in recent memory but no fans can attend... cool.)

The Cardinals released their roster for the first two weeks of the season on Thursday.

Jack Flaherty will make the Opening Day start for the Cardinals on Friday, with his first pitch set for 7:15 PM Central time. The 24-year-old Flaherty was at the top of the St. Louis staff last season and expects no different from himself this year. Flaherty led the Cardinals with with 231 strikeouts in 196 13 innings, during which he held opponents to a .192 average and maintained a 2.75 ERA. Flaherty is the youngest Cardinal to start on Opening Day in more than 30 years, dating back to 1989 when Joe Magrane got the nod.

Opening Day plans

Pittsburgh will send Joe Musgrove to the mound. Musgrove was the Pirates’ most durable starter last season, leading the club with 31 starts. Musgrove logged a career-high 170 innings pitched in 2019. Tommy Edman, Dexter Fowler, and Paul Goldschmidt combined to go 12-for-22 off Musgrove last year, with two doubles from Edman and homers from Fowler and Goldschmidt. In four starts against St. Louis last year, Musgrove’s ERA sat at 10.00.

Welcome to Opening Day During a Pandemic

We will see Adam Wainwright and Trevor Williams in Saturday afternoon’s game. Wainwright is entering his 15th season with the Cardinals. Saturday will be Wainwright’s 42nd career start against the Pirates. Last year, Wainwright kept Josh Bell in check, as the Pirates’ slugger went 0-for-10 facing Waino. Collectively in 2019, the Pirates batted .245 with Wainwright on the mound.

Williams is entering his fifth season with the Pirates and fourth as a full-time starter. Williams had a rough second half of the 2019 season, with a 6.45 ERA and .292 opponents’ batting average in 14 starts after the All-Star break. Across 145 23 frames last year, batters slashed .284/.338/.513 off Williams. With Chris Archer and Jameson Taillon shelved for 2020, the Pirates are hopeful that Williams can return to his 2018 form.

This series wraps up Sunday afternoon with Dakota Hudson and Mitch Keller. Hudson is opening his second year as a member of the Cardinals’ rotation. Hudson posted a 2.36 ERA over the final two months of the 2019 regular season and will look to reverse his trends against the Buccos. The Pirates slashed .309/.372/.441 facing Hudson in 2019. Bell took his Wainwright frustrations out on Hudson, as the switch-hitter went 6-for-8 with four doubles off the Cards’ righty.

Keller made his MLB debut last May and made 11 starts for the Pirates in 2019. It wasn’t always pretty for Keller — a 1.83 WHIP with an opponents’ .546 slugging percentage — but the 24-year-old turned in a 12.19 K/9 rate. Sunday will be Keller’s first meeting against St. Louis.

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Friday, 7/24, 7:15 PM CT | Flaherty vs. Musgrove | FSMW, KMOX, WJIR

Saturday, 7/25, 1:15 PM CT | Wainwright vs. Williams | MLB Network, FSMW, KMOX, WJIR

Sunday, 7/25, 1:15 PM CT | Hudson vs. Keller | FSMW, KMOX, WJIR