Tonight, the Cardinals begin a road series against the Big Strong Mets. They very graciously resisted the urge to put the Cardinals in the hospital, but less graciously won a three-game series. But the Cardinals did win that final game, and tensions were high, all beginning long before the Mets ever faced the Cardinals, when their team full of HBP leaders got hit by pitches a lot. But specifically in that series, when Stubby’s cushion got hit in the face. A wink wink nudge nudge high fastball that was totally not on purpose to Arenado caused the benches to brawl and well that happened in the bottom of the 8th of a game that was already over, so we’re pretty much picking up right after that happened.
At the time, the Mets had won every series, and that streak continued for exactly one more series. They have since lost two series, including to the Mariners, who they just faced. So if momentum were a thing, and we kind of know it’s not, the Cardinals are coming off a 2-1 series win against 20-14 Giants while the Mets are coming off a 2-1 series loss to the 16-19 Mariners.
The Mets are down two guys from when the Cards last saw them. James McCann, who’s not very good, and Trevor May, who hasn’t been very good, so not a huge impact on this particular series. They are up one Tajiuan Walker though. We can expect some drama, because, I cannot stress this enough, the Mets are compiled of players who get hit by pitches a lot by design so some Mets will get hit, they will get mad about it, and we’ll do this stupid dance again.
Monday - 6:10 PM
Trevor Williams (5.73 ERA/3.21 FIP/3.38 xFIP) vs. Miles Mikolas (1.49 ERA/2.98 FIP/3.74 xFIP)
We have seen Trevor Williams a lot. He has started 14 games and pitched in 19 against the Cardinals and he has not been very good. The Cardinals have batted .322/.366/.495 against him and he has a 5.64 ERA in 75 IP. Buck Showalter said Williams is likely starting and I’m not sure if that means he’ll be truly starting and expected to go around 5 innings or if it’s a bullpen game. If it’s the former, the Mets are in trouble. If it’s the latter, Williams is actually a decent reliever.
Facing Williams is someone who, I hate to say it, feels a bit due for a bad start. I just kind of got a feeling. After a poor first start of the year, Mikolas had four dominant starts in a row, and I emphasize dominant. He had 24 Ks to 2 BBs in those four starts. In his last two starts, he has 6 Ks to 4 BBs combined. The former version is hard for anyone to beat, the latter is going to eventually have a bad start. But I have not been great at predictions so feel free to ignore this one.
My pick: Cardinals (If Mikolas was facing anyone better than Williams, it would not be the Cardinals)
Tuesday - 6:10 PM
Taijuan Walker (3.00 ERA/4.51 FIP/4.34 xFIP) vs Steven Matz (6.40 ERA/4.08 FIP/2.96 xFIP)
The Cardinals missed Walker last time - he was on the injured list, but has since made three starts. He’s been a very unusual pitcher since he came back. He struck out four batters in two innings before he had to exit his first game of the season. Since he came back, he has struck out 4 batters in 16 innings. He has walked five batters. He has relied entirely on groundballs, which is certainly interesting for a guy who has a career 43.3 GB%.
I am still a Steven Matz believer. His advanced stats are still pretty good. Even his xERA is 4.49, which admittedly is not good, but is also not 6.40. He just needs to avoid the big inning. He has allowed 21 of his 23 earned runs in just six innings. That goes a long way towards explaining how exactly he can have a 6.40 ERA and have three of his seven starts combine for one earned run. That said, I’m going to have to pick the Mets, because I picked Matz to beat the Mets last time and it didn’t work, so let’s try something different.
My pick: Mets
Wednesday - 6:10 PM
Max Scherzer (2.66 ERA/3.05 FIP/2.99 xFIP) vs. Jordan Hicks (4.15 ERA/4.46 FIP/4.13 xFIP)
The last time the Cardinals faced Scherzer, he opposed Miles Mikolas and the Cardinals should have won. But they kind of collapsed in the 9th inning. This time, they will probably not get the same chance to collapse, because I don’t know that you get two chances to beat Max Scherzer. There’s no a whole of indication the Cardinals are at all capable of hitting off of Scherzer and I’m not sure what’s different now.
It does not help that he’s facing Jordan Hicks, who will probably be okay, but also probably give the ball to the bullpen around the 5th inning. The Cardinals will probably need to be near flawless pitching-wise and I just don’t see a Hicks/bullpen combo pulling that off. But here’s to hoping!
My pick: Mets
Thursday - 12:10 PM
Chris Bassitt (2.34 ERA/3.38 FIP/3.53 xFIP) vs. Dakota Hudson (3.06 ERA/5.08 FIP/4.83 xFIP)
I seem to have put myself into a corner here. As of this game, I have the Cardinals losing 2 games out of the first three. I feel decently confident they will split the series, seeing as that tends to happen over most four-game series. Just how baseball works. But I feel not a whole lot of confidence in the Cardinals on this matchup.
Last preview (which I’m only just now realizing I wrote and not Heather, which means it’s her turn, but I’m almost done with this preview so I guess I’m writing it!), I expressed doubt at Chris Bassit’s start to the year. That doubt remains, being only a few starts later. Although he has maintained it. So I’ll just carry that opinion over to her and say the Cards help him regress.
My pick: Cardinals
I am 7-7 on individual games and have accurately predicted the series prediction 3 times to one miss. I’m just glad I didn’t get the chance to predict the Orioles series because I would have gotten that wrong. I’ll be interested to see if the Cardinals split, because they would seem to need to win one of the three games the Mets have the “better” pitcher (though it’s hard for me to buy 11% K rate Walker as better, but the ERA difference is undeniable). Not a huge leap for baseball, but sure puts a lot of burden on Mikolas to take game one.