Here we are: the final week of the 2020 MLB regular season.
The Cardinals are in Kansas City for the first part of the week for a three-game series with the Royals. It was surely a happy commute to KC, with St. Louis riding a four-game winning streak for the first time this year. The I-70 Series was in St. Louis about a month ago (8/24-26), and the Cardinals took two of three. The Royals enter Monday at 21-32 and were swept by the Brewers over the weekend.
The Cardinals are 26-24, second place in the National League Central, trailing the Cubs by 3 1⁄2 games. The Brewers and Reds are just a game back of the Cardinals, and the Brewers are in Cincinnati for a three-game series starting tonight. The Cubs are in Pittsburgh this week.
The Cardinals would be in the postseason if the season ended today, but it doesn’t — and the Brewers and Reds are on their heels.
Gabe did a nice job of detailing the possible outcomes for Cardinals as they open up what is sure to be an eventful week.
The week ahead - Viva El Birdos
Outfielder Dexter Fowler and right-handed reliever Giovanny Gallegos are expected to be activated off the injured list on Monday, prior to the series opener against the Royals. Fowler has been out since 9/2 while dealing with a stomach ailment and taking medicine that might weaken his immune system. Due to COVID-19, it was best for Fowler to be sidelined. Gallegos has been shelved with a groin strain since 9/11. Gallegos will be a nice boost to a Cardinals ‘pen that could use a fresh arm.
Reinforcements coming for the #STLCards, with Giovanny Gallegos and Dexter Fowler both likely to be activated from IL today, I've heard.— Mark Saxon (@markasaxon) September 21, 2020
Monday, 9/21, 7:05 | Carlos Hernandez vs. Adam Wainwright | FSMW, KMOX
Tuesday, 9/22, 7:05 | Brady Singer vs. Austin Gomber | FSMW, KMOX
Wednesday, 9/23, 7:05 | Danny Duffy vs. Carlos Martinez | ESPN 2, FSMW, KMOX
Hernandez will make his second Major League start on Monday and fourth overall appearance. Hernandez started against the Pirates back on 9/12 and gave up three runs on three hits — all solo home runs. Prior to 2020, the 23-year-old hadn’t pitched above Low-A.
Wainwright fanned nine and held the Brewers to two runs over seven innings his last time out. Six out of Wainwright’s eight starts this season have been quality starts, and the 39-year-old owns the Cardinals’ only complete games thus far in 2020. Wainwright logged seven innings against the Royals back in August, with four runs allowed.
The rookie Singer made his debut back in July during the opening weekend of the season, and Tuesday evening will be his 11th start of the year. Over his last two starts, against the Indians and Tigers, Singer has totaled 14 scoreless innings with 16 punchouts. Singer has a 6.75 ERA in three starts at Kauffman Stadium this year, as opposed to a 3.18 in seven road starts; perhaps this is good news for the visiting Cards.
The lefty Gomber has made two spot starts for the Cardinals this year with 10 relief appearances mixed in. Gomber will go Tuesday night, opposite of Singer. Gomber struggled in his relief work against the Pirates the other night, with Gregory Polanco’s two-out, three-run homer the big blow. Take away those four runs in 1 2⁄3 frames against the Pirates, and Gomber has allowed only one run in 17 1⁄3 innings this season.
The Royals will send their lefty Duffy to the mound on Wednesday. In three September starts, Duffy has surrendered 12 runs (all earned) in 15 1⁄3 innings; that includes 5 2⁄3 shutout frames against the Indians. Right-handed batters are hitting .250 with nine long balls of Duffy this season.
Wednesday is an important assignment for Martinez. With a 2020 ERA that has ballooned to 8.40 as the result of a rough September, Martinez is looking to prove that he can be a dependable arm in the postseason if the Cardinals make it. Walks were a problem for Martinez in his last start, as he walked the first three Pirates batters he faced in the bottom of the first.