Nobody is going to mistake the Marlins for a juggernaut but the Cardinals have actually been rather fortunate the past couple seasons. The Marlins have an ace up their sleeve, namely their starting pitching. Or at least some of their starters. And since during that same period, the Cardinals starting pitching could best be described as ehhhhh, the pitching matchups seem to always be lopsided in favor of the Marlins. And when it comes to pitching, sometimes who the better pitcher is matters more than who the better team is.
And yet, the Cardinals won all six games against the Marlins last year. Including two wins against Sandy Alcantara, former Cardinal. And they won 2 out of 3 earlier this year. Including against Alcantara. The Cardinals are destined to never not face Alcantara in a series it seems, and one of these times, he will win.
I’m going to have to skip right to the matchups and not give a whole lot of detail on the team. One of those situations where everything seems to keep happening, so I couldn’t write it. Got home from vacation Saturday night, had to work Sunday, time got away from me and I was too exhausted, and then I ended up being at work today much later than I expected, so well, here I am trying to rush this through. Apologies.
Monday - 6:45 PM
Pablo Lopez (2.61 ERA/3.28 FIP/3.34 xFIP) vs. Adam Wainwright (3.32 ERA/3.58 FIP/3.89 xFIP)
I always think of the Marlins as having this powerhouse pitching staff, and I don’t think that impression is quite accurate. But I think part of that impression is that the Cardinals literally always seem to face their “good” starters. In five of the six games last year, the Cardinals faced Trevor Rogers twice (who the Cardinals don’t face, and who has been bad this year, but had 4.2 fWAR last year), Alcantara twice, and Lopez once. Somehow they won five games. The Cardinals have faced Lopez and Alcantara, and Lopez was the lone loss.
So a lot is on Wainwright to pitch better than a very good pitcher. He seems to have a knack for delivering good pitching performances and wins exactly when the Cardinals need them. Well they need him. It’s going to be a tough series - at least hypothetically - and winning the Wainwright start would be rather convenient.
My pick: Marlins
Tuesday 6:45 PM
Braxton Garrett (4.08 ERA/3.86 FIP/4.05 xFIP) vs. Dakota Hudson (3.72 ERA/4.59 FIP/4.75 xFIP)
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. At some point, I truly believe Hudson is going to need to actually pitch better and not simply get all-time good luck from an ERA/FIP disparity. A 13.2 K% and 11.3 BB% is simply dreadful. He’s also currently getting a career low in GB%, although barely. Anyway, he’s had a bad few starts recently and hopefully he can reverse that trend.
Garrett is a difficult pitcher to know how good they are. He wasn’t really much of a prospect, finishing #20 in Miami’s farm system before this year. So the pedigree isn’t there. He has overall solid numbers and a pretty damn good K/BB numbers. All the advanced stats say he’s been solid. He also has a .390 BABIP against. Hitters see the ball well off him. He has the unfortunate distinction of being a left-handed starter, so you have to like the Cardinals odds.
My pick: Cardinals
Thursday - 6:45 PM
Sandy Alcantara (1.95 ERA/3.02 FIP/3.43 xFIP) vs. Andre Pallante (2.03 ERA/4.28 FIP/4.02 xFIP)
I mentioned on Twitter that Pallante has basically been Hudson as a starter so far, and I got a little pushback. He just kind of hasn’t been that good as a starter? But there is a distinction. One, Pallante has age on his side. He also hasn’t really been a starter long and he skipped AAA last year. So there is some reason to think he’ll improve, unlike Hudson. But I will repeat what I said about Hudson: he is going to have to pitch better to keep up his results at some point.
Unfortunately, he’s facing a freight train with whom the best thing that can be said is that his ERA is due to rise. Not much comfort, especially with how easily he dominates the Cardinals. That hasn’t stopped the Cardinals from winning, but there’s no reason to think he can’t do it again.
My pick: Marlins
I’ll be honest with you guys: this has sweep written all over it. I have, to be fair, felt this way about past Marlins series and somehow the Cardinals win. Hopefully the offense can show up, because the best hope is Hudson and I think you guys can surmise how I feel about Hudson. So here’s hoping for what feels like the fourth straight time, the Cardinals can defy my expectations and still win the series.
Individual Game predictions: 18-17
Series Predictions: 5-5