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The St. Louis Cardinals should respectfully defeat the Miami Marlins

A wholesome preview

St Louis Cardinals v San Francisco Giants Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Starting Monday, June 14 at 7:15pm and ending Thursday, June 16 at 1:15 pm the St. Louis Cardinals will host the Miami Marlins for three games. The Cardinals have... woof. They are 2-9 in June and 2-11 since all the unpleasantness began. During their skid they have fallen from first to fourth in the National League Central and six games out of first place. It has been ugly. The Marlins have played pretty well in their last few series. They are 5-5 in their last 10 games, but are coming off series wins against the Colorado Rockies and the Atlanta Braves. They will be looking to continue their winning ways and the Cardinals need to rebound and get back to .500. Should (please) be fun!

The Good

The Cardinals record against Miami

In the second series of the season the Cardinals flew down to Maimi and swept them in impressive fashion outscoring them 15 runs to 3. In the last two games of the series the Marlins were held to two runs or fewer while the Cardinals offense took off later on in the game, scoring all their runs for those games in the sixth inning or later. In the first game, started by Daniel Ponce De Leon, the Cardinals came out swinging, putting up three runs in first inning and tacking on another run in the fifth for good measure.

The Marlins’ starting pitching

Regardless of if you are looking at Fangraphs or Baseball Reference, the Marlins have three really valuable starters — any one of the three would be the most valuable pitcher for the Cardinals in 2021. The Cardinals will not face Pablo López this series, but they will face lefty Trevor Rogers and righty Sandy Alcántara .

The Cardinals were able to get to Rogers early the first time the faced him this season, tagging him for three runs (two earned) in the top of the first. The walked four times and struck out six times off Rogers in his four innings of work. Alcántara shut the Cardinals out until the sixth inning. Like Rogers he allowed three runs, two earned, but only walked two and struck out ten.

Rogers throws three pitches: a 4-seam fastball, a changeup, and slider. Baseball Savant shows he has thrown one sinker this season, but he appears to have only thrown it 5% of the time last season so it does not really seem to be a weapon in his arsenal that warrants further examination. His most valuable pitch is his 4-seamer, which is a change from 2020 where is was one of his least valuable. He throws it at about 95 mph and around 60% of the time. When the count gets to 0-2, the likelihood of a changeup incoming increases to almost 42%. His changeup is his second best pitch and he throws it about 26% of the time. The slider gets thrown around 15% of the time and is distributed pretty equally among right and left-handed batters. It does not appear to be a pitch Rogers likes to throw often or when he needs to make a pitch: the fastball and changeup are his bread and butter. Should the Cardinals try to tee up against Rogers early on in the count, or try to work the count to drive his pitch count up and get into the weaker Marlins bullpen?

Rogers has been the most consistent, but Alcántara has been the most interesting. He has a four-pitch arsenal that he throws about the same amount and a curveball he will pepper in for flavor. His best pitch has been his changeup and he has thrown that the most at almost 28%. Righties will see more sinkers and sliders — overall he throws them 25% and 20% of the time, respectively, but against right-handed batters that increases to 34% and 29%. Lefties will see the changeup and 4-seamer. He throws his 4-seamer 22% of the time overall, but 27% of the time against lefties. 35% of his pitches to lefties have been the changeup. He also throws hard. His changeup comes in around 92 mph while his sinker and fastball sit around 97-98 mph.

The Not-So-Good

The Cardinals’ June Swoon

The month has been terrible for the Cardinals. They have suffered several key injuries and played a tough 17-game stretch. Injuries to the rotation are spreading the bullpen thin. There is no need to go into too much detail — you have probably been watching.

The Marlins’ power-hitting

The Marlins do not have a lot of weaknesses, honestly. They have good starters, some good bullpen pieces like Dylan Floro and Anthony Bender, and they have six regulars with over 100 wRC+. Starling Marte is having a terrific year so far batting .348/.439/.563 for a 179 wRC+. The defense is average, though the team is without Miguel Rojas, the slick-fielding shortstop and Brian Anderson, who plays a strong defensive third base. This team’s biggest issue it looks like is they just don’t have any power. They are 29th in the league in ISO at .138 and 27th in home runs with 60. They have allowed only 251 runs against, but have only scored 257 runs. It is easier for a team to underperform their Pythagorean record when they have to rely so much on fortuitous hit sequencing to score runs.

The Match Ups

Tyler O’Neill struggled mightily against Sandy Alcantara his last time facing him, but he is on a tear now. I will be watching to see if he extracts any revenge.

Game 1 — Monday, June 14 at 7:15 pm — Braxton Garrett vs. Adam Wainwright

Game 2 — Tuesday, June 15 at 7:15 pm — Trevor Rogers vs. TBD (likely the return of Kwang-hyun Kim)

Game 3 — Wednesday, June 16 at 1:15 pm — Sandy Alcántara vs. Johan Oviedo