The St. Louis Cardinals are coming off a series split with the Toronto Blue Jays. That series ended up with results about as we expected, even if the way it all played out was a little surprising. On Tuesday’s game Jordan Hicks left after only three innings. Now we know a little bit more on why:
Jordan Hicks is going on the IL with right forearm tightness #stlcards— Jeff Jones (@jmjones) May 26, 2022
Hicks had an ultrasound and they’re still waiting to have the results analyzed. He says it feels much more minor than either of the last two injuries. Was normal soreness for a pitcher between starts and they’re taking a step back to let him rest, recover— Jeff Jones (@jmjones) May 26, 2022
Hicks said he expects whether he comes back as a starter or reliever will depend on team need, as well as how long he’s out and how much build he’ll need.— Jeff Jones (@jmjones) May 26, 2022
The #STLCards have put Jordan Hicks on injured list, optioned Junior Fernandez to Mempjis and called up Woodford and Whitley from Memphis.— Rob Rains (@RobRains) May 26, 2022
So that is the big news for El Birdos. This weekend they will face the first-place Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers lead the Cardinals by 3.5 so with a sweep they could find themselves first in the division. The Cardinals and Brewers have faced each other once already this season and the season record is tied at two wins each. The announced starters for the Brewers are Eric Lauer against Adam Wainwright on Thursday, Brandon Woodruff on Friday, and Adrian Houser on Saturday. thestlcardsfan4 discussed Woodruff and Houser a bit in his preview from the last series between these two teams.
A few updates to his preview are in order I think. While Woodruff is striking out more batters than he did in 2021, he also walking more and allowing more home runs so far as well. His BABIP jumped from .261 in 2021 to .324 and his LOB% dropped from 81.4% to 65%. Looking at his page on Baseball Savant there is one adjustment that stands out to me: he is throwing his 4-seam fastball more and his sinker less. Look at the difference in placement of it compared to last season:
Instead of running off the plate, it stays smack dab in the middle, which might be why he has allowed 4 homers of this pitch already.
As Gabe said in his preview, Adrian Houser has the shiny sub-3.00 ERA, but his peripherals do not really match. He has a strikeout rate just under 20% and a walk rate above 10%. What is propelling his FIP of 3.12 is that he has only given up one home run in over 42 innings. It does not appear to be a sustainable rate for him. He primarily throws a sinker, but his groundball percentage is only 48.4%. Nearly 26% of the balls put in play against him are flyballs. More are bound to leave the yard.
The Cardinals face Eric Lauer Thursday night for the first time this season. He has a 2.16 ERA and 3.36 FIP in over 41 innings this season. He is striking out almost 33% of batters while walking just under 5%, but has allowed seven home runs so far this season. He throws four pitches: a 4-seamer, slider, cutter, and curveball. The 4-seamer looks like a sneaky good pitch for him. He doesn’t throw it super hard — about 94 mph — but he has nearly pinpoint accuracy with it at the top of the strike zone.
The Brewers haven’t announced a starter for Sunday, but my guess is Corbin Burnes (unless there is something I don’t know). He is having anther strong season, striking out over 10 per nine innings and walking 1.56 per nine. Like the rest of his teammates, though, he is also having some trouble with giving up the long ball. In 2021 his HR/9 was just 0.38. In 2022 it is 1.25. He has given up eight home runs so far this season, three of those off his sinker, which he has only thrown 72 times this season. His cutter is still one of the best in the game, though. Per Baseball Savant’s run value, it has provided -10 runs already.
As a team the Brewers are hitting with a 102 wRC+. Hunter Renfroe has hit nine homers so far this season and has a .238 ISO. Willy Adames has also hit nine homers and has a .254 ISO. The offense has been mediocre and the story of this team has been the pitching so far. Also of note: closer Josh Hader was away from the team to be his wife. It looks as if he will return for this series against the Cardinals.
Craig Counsell said Josh Hader will be away for the Padres series and then they will assess. “Josh’s wife has had complications with her pregnancy, and they are at a stage where Josh did not feel comfortable leaving,” Counsell said.— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) May 23, 2022
As for the Cardinals pitching the only pitcher scheduled is Adam Wainwright. I am assuming Miles Mikolas and Dakota Hudson will take the mound, but with Steven Matz on the 15-day Injured List and Jordan Hicks hitting the IL, the other starter is a mystery.
Thursday, May 26 at 6:45 pm CDT: Eric Lauer vs. Adam Wainwright
Friday, May 27 at 7:15 pm CDT: Brandon Woodruff vs. TBD
Saturday, May 28 at 2:15 pm CDT: Adrian Houser vs. TBD
Sunday, May 29 at 2:15 pm CDT: TBD vs. TBD